“Why do people scramble to prevent death by lightning strike but don’t scramble in the same way to prevent death by suicide? The latter is approximately 365 times more common than the former…it is fairly easy to understand how and why people die by lightning strike… By contrast, it is not all easy for people to understand how and why people die by suicide, and prevention is not clear cut at all. To make the prevention of suicide more like the prevention of lightning strikes, people need a clearer understanding of how and why people die by suicide.” – Thomas Joiner, Why Die By Suicide.
At the age of 15 I experienced suicidal thoughts for the first time. I was still a child but all I could think about for a long time was dying.
I have planned my death several times. I have written goodbyes. I have been in hospital after overdosing. I have spent hours imagining killing myself. I have longed for the nothingness of death.
You might be in the view that suicide is selfish. People who commit suicide do not think about anyone else.
As someone who has attempted suicide a few times and thought about it a lot, I can assure you this is wrong. I never thought about the impact my death may have on those around me. On the contrary, I always felt that my death would make other people’s lives better. Often, those considering suicide feel as they are a burden and that the world would genuinely be better without them.
When you feel like you’ve hit rock bottom despite trying to hard to fight, helplessness kicks in. It tells you that nothing will get better no matter what you do. The only way to stop the pain is to stop existing. There is nothing to suggest that there is light at the end of the tunnel so you may as well stop here.
I have spent many nights crying over how much I want to die. On those nights, I see no other way out of the darkness. My body feels like it is too weak to hold all this pain inside. My head starts to replay past attempts looking for ways to be successful this time. I am on the edge, well aware that doing this means going to nothing. In that moment, nothingness sounds ideal.
Someone puts a hand on my shoulder and I reluctantly turn around. “Step back, it will be okay, I am here.” They do not know that it will be okay. They will not be here forever. But, I cannot let them watch me do this.
We sit and talk. They listen.
In 2013, 6233 suicides were registered in the UK. 78% of these were male. Suicide is the leading cause of death among the age group 24 – 39.
It is difficult to know what to say to someone who has said they are suicidal. We should focus on preventing it from getting to this point. September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. This is about raising awareness of suicide and looking, as individuals and as a society, at ways of preventing suicide.
Thomas Joiner argues that those who commit suicide often have 3 things in common: feeling like a burden, history of self injuring behaviour and not feeling like they belong. If any of this reminds you of someone you know then reach out to them. Ask them if they are okay, reassure them. Let them know that talking about their problems does not make them weak.
What keeps you going until tomorrow? Whatever it is, share this. It may help someone else stick around too. No one is suggesting that you write the story for someone, just help them find some ink so they can keep writing.