During the first year of college, my world shattered into a thousand sharp-edged pieces. While those around me were immersed in a college life full of books, parties and excitement; I became a brittle, broken 20-year-old. A sudden flood of memories of childhood abuse pitched me deep into a dark hole of depression. It didn’t take long for sneaky thoughts of suicide to twist around my brain.
How the Suicidal Thoughts Progressed
The thoughts started as “I’m alone” and “This is too much for me to handle.” Soon, they turned into a voice that shouted: “You can never heal from this.” “No one cares.” “No one understands.” “It’s TOO MUCH!” “Ending your life would ease your pain.” And when that voice got that loud, I couldn’t hear anything else. The idea of suicide became a comfort that melded into my brain.
This week is National Suicide Prevention Week. According to World Health Organization, someone commits suicide every 40 seconds. I can not even write that without a lump forming in my throat and my eyes tearing up. EVERY 40 SECONDS, a person reaches a decision that there is no more hope and there is no other option.
I almost became one of those statistics and I often wonder why I didn’t.
Here’s what I know. It makes no difference why a person struggles with mental health. For me, it was brokenness from childhood abuse. But suicidal thoughts can arise for many different reasons. What does matter is that if you are having these thoughts, there is hope and there is a different choice.
As I look back and really contemplate what stopped me from being a statistic, I can identify four areas that helped me through that dark time. Whether you are someone who is acquainted personally with the agonizing, taunting voice of suicide or know someone else who is struggling with it, I hope my experience can help shed some light on a subject that we don’t talk enough about.
Four Things that Helped Me Sidestep Suicide
One of the biggest factors in my healing from mental illness was the amazing fact that my college offered counseling to anyone for $5 a session! I spent 2 ½ years receiving professional support. Of course, I realize counseling may not be as readily available for everyone. But check with your insurance, check with a local church or charity if they partner with a counseling firm. And if you need to, ask those who love you to to help provide financial support. There is NO shame or guilt in seeking help!
Family and Friends
I was beyond blessed to be surrounded by a supportive family unit and friends who loved me fiercely. If you know someone who is struggling with suicide, I can not express enough just how much your presence can make a difference. I could call my family at any time. My family let me cry and cry and not have to talk about it. I had a friend who would take me to my favorite Mexican restaurant when things got bad. I had another friend who walked me to and from counseling. And a third friend who took me on crazy adventures just so I could laugh and get away.
I know everyone has different beliefs about religion, but my relationship with God gave me hope I didn’t know where to find anywhere else. I needed to know I was loved and cherished and valued and I found that within my church. If you are not comfortable with the church setting, find a group of people who can give you hope and support. There are support groups, resources and other people who know how you feel.
The emotions that poured out of me through words on paper was healing. It was freeing to release what I felt inside by writing it down. Journaling helped me get over the moment I was stuck in and move away from the negative feelings consuming me.
My hope during this week is that people feel comfortable talking about suicide and mental health. And I hope those who feel all is lost will hear they are not alone and that they can reach out to ask for help. Below is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
And if you are reading this and you need someone to talk to, I am here. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know me. I know you and I know how it feels to have suicide call your name.
Other Suicide Prevention Resources:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
This post regarding suicide prevention is part of Colorado Springs Moms Blog’s ongoing series about issues facing people in our community and resources to help. To read more pieces in the series or to find volunteer opportunities, click here.