How to Prevent Suicide
Today is World Suicide Prevention Day, and I think it is brilliant that so many are trying to diminish the stigma surrounding mental health issues. To me, I think the biggest components to prevention are knowledge and understanding. I think it is important for society in general to have a deeper understanding of what it means to be suicidal, and that knowledge of mental health issues should be taught to every single human. I don't believe anyone can truly understand what it feels like to be at the point where you feel the only option available to you is to take your own life unless you have felt that hopeless despair. I can try and explain what was going through my mind, but what seems logical and true to someone in that state can hardly make sense to someone who has never felt it. I sincerely and truly believed that killing myself was the only option. I felt like such a burden that I thought me being gone would be the best thing for the people in my life. Yes, I wanted my own pain to stop, but more importantly I wanted to stop bringing pain to the people around me. In my mind it was like ripping off a bandaid - it would hurt them for a little while but be better in the long run. It took me a long time, and a lot of intense therapy, to realize that that was not the case. The most important thing to understand when it comes to suicide is that the person truly feels so lost that taking their life seems like the only possible option. If you can begin to look at things from that angle, you can begin to understand the struggle they are going through should they decide to try and recover or stay alive.
There are so many dangers to not knowing or understanding suicide. When I disclosed my plan, I was at work. My manager then sent me home alone, when I said my plan was to commit suicide after my shift... I am so fucking lucky that something in me chose to reach out to an old friend, despite not having spoken for years, and she stayed on the phone with me until Isaac was able to get home. I was later forced to quit work because they would not give me the time off to check myself into a program and get the help I needed. Had there been more knowledge and understanding around the situation, many risks, undue stress and anxiety triggers could have been avoided. When you already feel like you're failing life, losing your job on top of that doesn't exactly help matters. Being sent home alone when suicidal could have resulted in a disaster that may have been avoided if people had more knowledge and understanding of how to handle these situations. Most people don't realize that this is a serious, life threatening illness, and should be treated as such.
Knowledge and understanding only come if we have open, honest conversations. I am blessed to have family and friends in my life who not only know what to do, but who understand me. I think that knowing and understanding are different yet critical - knowing is logically being able to comprehend something, but understanding is a deeper recognition of what someone is going through. My loved ones know what I suffer from because of diagnosis and research, but they understand what I go through because I am open and communicate honestly. It is not easy, just like writing this wasn't, but I believe from the deepest part of my soul that it is the most important thing I can do. If we can just talk about this topic openly, maybe someone going through these feelings won't feel like such a burden, or someone in their life will know how to help them. Maybe, just maybe, we can help save a life.
If you or someone you know is dealing with thoughts of suicide, phone the Distress Line in Calgary (403.266.HELP (4357)) or find your local crisis center here.