Is there ever any proper way to talk about suicide without people cringing or a million red flags being raised? There’s something about saying even the word that makes people uncomfortable. No wonder people don’t want to ask for help.
In the U.S., it’s the tenth leading cause of death. It’s right after Kidney Disease and right before Blood Poisoning. The fact that something within our control is so high up there between medical issues that we don’t choose baffles me. On average 38,000 people take their lives every year. The highest cause is from a firearm. 105 Americans will die every day. That’s 1 every 12 minutes.
But more than just statistics, these are people. These are children. These are parents and friends and classmates.
While depression is linked so many people leading to making this decision if I could sit down and have one conversation with every person who becomes another victim of this dark cloud they think they can’t escape, this is what I’d say.
To the person contemplating suicide,
I know you don’t think anyone cares. I know you think you are a burden. I know you think everyone’s lives would be easier if you weren’t here. But all of those things you’re telling yourself, all of those thoughts that make you justify actions that will very well be a mistake, it’s not the truth.
And if you follow through with it, you might not live to regret it. But there’s someone who has.
On September 24th, 2000, Kevin Hines jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and he lived to tell about it. “Of thousands who have died on the Golden Gate bridge, I am 1% to have survived…I vividly remember writing my suicide note. People don’t get it, I thought I was a burden to everyone who loved me…I thought no one cared. The reality was everyone cared. I just couldn’t see it. I ran forward using my two hands, I catapulted myself into free fall… What I’m about to say is, the exact same thing 19 other Golden Gate bridge survivors have also said. The millisecond my hands left the rail, it was an instant regret. I remember thinking no one is going to know I didn’t want to die.”
Understanding the difference between your depressed voice that leads to these suicidal thoughts and your actual voice is vital. There is a difference. The depressed version of who you are when it seems nothing is going your way isn’t the real you. The real you is the person you are on your best days. The real you is the one people love to be around. The person you like when you look in the mirror. The real you is the one who is smiling and happy and laughing even if those days are few and far between.
But suicide isn’t a solution to your problems and it might stop what you are feeling at this moment but all you are doing is, taking all of these heavy emotions and passing them onto the people you care most about. You make this choice and you change their entire lives forever. You aren’t a burden. Even with the problems you face and how much they worry, they would rather do that than have to go to your funeral. And after the funeral, all they think of is how they were to blame for all of this. Why didn’t they see the signs? Why didn’t they act accordingly? The pain they feel in your absence will never go away. So while it might seem like you’re solving the problem that is you, you are more of a blessing than you even realize.
The depressed state and the suicidal thoughts and that dark place you go to every night, that you wouldn’t wish upon your worst enemy isn’t reality. It might feel like it is. And it might feel like you can’t beat this, but you can. You’ve beat it every day up to this point.
There is a strength within you that people don’t even realize when they look at you. There is this strength within you, you don’t even realize. But you have to keep fighting. Because beyond these really tough days, are better ones.
There are people you haven’t met yet, lives you haven’t changed, experiences that you need to have. And moments you need to be a part of.
So before you act drastically, before you make any rash decisions, I ask you instead of acting accordingly and doing something everyone will regret, go to sleep and try to get through another day. And just take it one day at a time.
Don’t be the empty seat your family wishes wasn’t at Thanksgiving.
Don’t be the Christmas gifts your mom can’t buy.
Don’t be the invite to a wedding that can’t be sent.
Don’t be the day that changes your families lives forever.
Don’t be the birthday they can’t celebrate.
Don’t be the story they choke up explaining to the niece or nephew you didn’t get a chance to meet or you didn’t get a chance to see grow up.
You are needed. You are wanted. You are loved.
Even on those days, it doesn’t feel like you are alone. You aren’t.
That voice that tells you otherwise is simply lying to you and it’s up to you to determine what you listen to. People’s lives are better because you are here.
They are people who need you here. There are people who need you to keep fighting.
I know how hard it is. But you haven’t lost yet.
On the other side of this darkness that plagues you, on the other side of this depression that lies, there is light and there is truth and the honest truth is, it isn’t your time to go yet because so many people need and love you more than you realize.
It’s isn’t about ridding yourself of depression or suicidal thoughts, but learning how to cope with it in a healthy way. You are strong enough to beat this. And when you don’t think you are and those days creep up on you, ask for help. Because asking for help doesn’t make you weak, it’s the strongest thing you can do.
National Suicide Prevention Line 1-800-273-8255.