So. You’re reading this because you googled suicide or something similar. Maybe you’re thinking about it. Maybe you know someone thinking about it. Maybe you’re just trying to understand why people do it.
First of all, since this is a touchy subject in the extreme, let me introduce myself. My name is Arthur. I am diagnosed Bipolar 1 with psychotic features. To make that understandable, I have physical and emotional experiences that don’t necessarily relate to current events in my life, and I always see and hear things that aren’t there. It makes life… interesting, to say the least.
I have attempted suicide multiple times, and I still think about it. Every day. The question that doctors and such like to ask: “Do you have a plan?” is almost meaningless. Potential means for suicide surround us constantly, so the plan is always available. I haven’t successfully done it yet(obviously… 😛 ), and while I make no guarantees for ‘never’, I haven’t actively attempted in quite a long time.
I still remember the sensation of every attempt, from the sawing sensation as the blade bit through my flesh, to the taste of gunmetal and blood as I scratched the roof of my mouth with it, to the fear I hadn’t taken enough pills and the ensuing chocolatey yet dirty taste of the quart and a half of charcoal I had to drink afterwards.(You poop it all out, by the way. It’s bad.)
But why? That’s the question I want to answer. Why do I, and maybe other people, think about, attempt, and sometimes succeed at, suicide?
In some cases, I was just so tired. Every breath was an effort, all food tasted the same, and all I could think was that it just never gets better. No matter what happens, the joy is always short lived and the grinding way that life goes always brings you down.
In others, my brain just wouldn’t shut up. Nothing made sense and I couldn’t grab one of the bits of thought that was racing around in my head and tie it to another one in a way that made any kind of sense. Tons of energy and no motivation to do anything with it.
But that’s me. What about other people? (Maybe you?)
There are a million situational reasons. Maybe the person doesn’t feel loved. Maybe they suffer from an uncurable illness. Maybe they feel guilty. Maybe they’re just tired of fighting, grinding their way through life. In the end, though, it all boils down to one thing.
A lack of hope.
The thought process goes something like this: This sucks. Tomorrow, this will suck, therefore tomorrow will suck. The day after that will suck. The next week, the next month, and I just don’t think it’s worth experiencing the amount of suck that is going to occur in order to experience that potential joy that I’m told exists but that is so far removed from me that it may as well be a fairy tale.
As far as hope goes, when it’s there you never notice it. It just is. It’s part of the way you think and the way you are. When it’s gone, you don’t generally know that that’s what’s missing. You only know that everything is intolerable and you are simply done with it. That’s when the thought first shows up, for many.
That first thought is terrifying for some, and they run directly to get help. For many, it isn’t terrifying. It’s a comfort, even beautiful. It’s the most soothing siren song in the world, and if you’ll only do this one tiny little, simple thing, all the pain goes away.
It doesn’t tend to mention that it’s all a lie.
Suicide is not an easy thing. Your body, your mind, fights you even as it encourages you to do it. Pulling a blade across your skin is easy, pushing down hard enough to hit an artery is beyond hard. Overdosing and ‘just going to sleep’ is beyond difficult as well, as the dosages required to kill you are far greater than those that will just destroy your body, shortening your life span but making you live under constant watch and care as your destroyed organs fail. Putting a gun in your mouth and pulling the trigger requires you to mentally overcome every survival urge your body has, and it is in that moment that your mind tends to flounder about, reaching for any hope that it can call up to keep you from squeezing the trigger.
The main thing that I have lacked, as far as successfully committing suicide goes, is enough anger to accept that I will hurt people simply by no longer being there. Anger is as irrational and powerful as lust, I think. That emotion is what makes a person do whatever it takes to die, and is probably at the heart of these public suicides that take the lives of others in the process.
So. Hopeless anger is what causes suicide by cop, suicide by shooting people, suicide in public or with a manifesto attached. Even that quiet end where someone manages to overdose and die in their sleep, they were tired, hopeless and angry enough to take enough pills or whatever to make sure they wouldn’t wake up.
How do you fight it?
I have some survival questions and rules that have kept me from attempting for a long time. Here they are:
1: Is my pain of greater value than the potential pain this will cause others?
Generally, no. Your death will probably cause pain to at least one other person, even if that person is just trying to bury you. More than likely, people will grieve, probably for years, and be sad, depressed, and angry, much like you’re feeling now.
This falls apart when delusion takes over, though. If you aren’t angry, then this should be a big deal, and your empathy should kick in to some degree. In my case, I tend to fall into this place where I believe that a lack of having to deal with me would be a good thing to those that this choice would otherwise cause. That’s when I move onto the next rule…
2: Wait 24 hours, and sleep for no more than 8 of them, and no less than 6 of them.
Sleep does some amazing things, including allowing your brain to take a break. If you can’t sleep at all during those 24 hours, go to a hospital and tell them the situation. Yes, they will admit you. Yes, it will suck. Take a bag, something to read, and a notebook and pen so that you can write down all of the crap in your head.
I limit it to 8, because past that amount, I tend to feel worse. I will want to make sleep my escape, and it will turn into a situation where that’s all I do. This will hurt others just as bad, and if I don’t commit suicide, I’ll have to apologize to those it hurts, which sucks, which feeds into the thought process I mentioned above with some self-hatred and anger thrown in.
3: Do that thing you like, that you have access to, one last time.
Let’s say you like milkshakes. Go to the store, and buy one. Think about the fact this may be the last one you ever have. Love the sound of crashing waves? Go to a beach. Let yourself experience that, and think about the fact that this may very well be the very last time you do it.
You may find that you’d like to be able to do it again, enough to go to the hospital or police or whomever and tell them about it.
4: Once it’s done, it’s done. Did you do everything else possible?
Suicide, if successful, is the very last thing you will ever do. That’s it. No takebacks. Heaven, hell, reincarnation, none of that is guaranteed beyond your own personal belief. As far as you know, you are hitting the off switch on life with a hammer. There’s no turning it back on. Did you try quitting that job, leaving that relationship, moving away and starting over from scratch? People do those things, and are successful. Did you try them? Maybe you should.
I’m not going to lie to you. Life is hard. We fuck up. Other people hurt us. We hurt ourselves. We dream of comfort and stability, we imagine joy, but none of those things are guaranteed. We try to get help and the system we have has long waiting periods for appointments, and no real concept of fixing anything, only mitigating symptoms and making us manageable by society. (Seriously, world, what are you people doing? You say you care, but all you do is say it and encourage people to take the pills when we have all of this marvelous technology and money to throw at all of these other things… but I digress.)
Even then, suicide is probably not the best answer.
I know, if you’re here because you’re thinking about doing it, you’re still thinking about it. So, make a plan. Plan your death, the whole shebang, including your obituary and funeral arrangements. Think about who will react to it, how they’ll react, and what you want them to take away from it.
At the same time, make another plan. This one is to leave the situation and just go somewhere else. Plan on being broke, homeless, jobless, and without a friend in the world when you go. It’s the same thing as suicide, but you’re giving yourself one more chance to find something tolerable. Plan it all the way out, to include what paperwork you need to take, how much you can reasonably carry, and where you’ll go.
Now. I want you to consider this: the end goal is to make the old situation go away, right? Both plans do this. Both plans hurt people emotionally, but you’ll be either dead or away from those it hurts, so you don’t have to deal with that unless you want to alleviate the pain. One way means that perhaps you’ll find joy in a starlit night or be able to dance in the snow. Maybe try that one?
I’ve been in there, in that space. I know. I care. I’m not the only one, but none of us are psychic. You have to talk to us, and not just the people that blow it off or don’t listen or freak out. Everyone’s not like that. Use your words. The smallest words you have are enough. If you do decide to go, though, and there’s no changing your mind, know that you will be missed. You might have been that person who I’d run into someday and we’d be become best of friends. You might be the one who saves someone else from something horrible. You might be just a comfort to the people around you, just knowing you’re there, you’ve been through hell, and you’re still here, and that’s enough to make them keep going. If you still go, know that I hope that you find it’s better on the other side.
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Feel free to share this out there into the world, too. Maybe it’ll help somebody.
1 (800) 273-8255 Suicide prevention hotline
http://hopeline.com/ (This one is all a chat)