Suicide – How to Save Yourself

The closest I ever came to committing suicide involved holding a loaded gun to my head. It was a few weeks after my fiancée, Dan, had committed suicide by shooting himself in the head. When my finger touched the trigger, it was pure exhilaration. There was no sadness, no despair, no darkness. It was pure joy. When I began to increase the pressure on the trigger, everything that had ever been in my life just opened up and fell away from me.

At that moment, I was free. Free of everything. I doubt I can make you understand what this means with words, unless you have been in that same instance as well. I suppose in that one moment, I found what the Buddhist monks search for. And truth be told, I can only hope that as my natural death approaches, I will find that moment again.

I’ve wrestled with what happened next, trying to understand it. Was it my own subconscious? A guardian angel? Simple, dumb luck? What ever it was, it saved my life. As I began to pull the trigger, a vision flashed before my eyes. My friend – whose apartment I was in and whose gun I was holding – walked in the door. He saw my bloody, lifeless body on the floor holding his gun. He knelt beside me, cradled my head in his hands, and screamed.

Everything suddenly came crashing back to me.

With shaking hands I removed the gun from my head, thankful for whatever had just saved me and vowed from that moment on, I would kill myself “the right way”.  I would not be selfish, I told myself. I would not traumatize anyone, leave a bloody mess for anyone, or leave without a proper explanation to all my loved ones.

I continued to be suicidal. I made my detailed plan, got all my ducks in a row. But luckily, THAT moment, of letting go of everything I ever was, never came again. Ever since that moment, however, I have had a complete understanding of how and why people suddenly – and without warning or explanation or seeming regard for anyone else – commit suicide.

So, how do you save someone who reaches this “Nirvana” point of suicide ideation? In all honesty, I’m not sure you can. I believe at that point, only the person contemplating suicide can save themselves. In any case, the most important step is to recognize that this moment exists and prevent yourself or you loved one from reaching it.

Here is a the link to a past post I wrote on recognizing the warning signs and helping someone who is suicidal: How to Help Someone Who is Suicidal.

If you struggle with Depression and thoughts of suicide, please read the article. You CAN be your own friend, and you CAN save your own life.

As always, if you find yourself in a crises situation, please call 911 or your local emergency response number. The people on the other end of that line want to save your life!

If you are alone, though, there are other things that you can do to help yourself. You are not always 100% committed to dying. I will reckon that there are many times in your life when you do not want to die. During one of those times, you can take steps to prepare for your lowest points.

  • For starters, you can sign a “No-Harm Contract”. This can be a great tool to help you step back and stabilize yourself when you feel like falling. If you are caring for someone who is suicidal, discuss the “No-Harm Contract” with them. Unfortunately, people don’t always abide by them, but many times they will. Here is one form that I have created, based on others I’ve seen: No-Harm Contract.

If you fall into a crises situation, the best thing you can do is reach out for help. But often times, for any number of reasons, people do not do that. If you are alone, in crises, and unwilling or unable to get help, the best thing you can do to immediately help yourself is to distract yourself from self-harm or suicide until the feeling passes, or you ARE able to get help.

  • Come up with your own list of distractions and add them to the No-Harm contract. Make sure that you have what you need for the distractions you choose. Distractions can be simple or complex, here are a few examples:

  • Watch a favorite show. It may sound silly, but Star Trek saved my life! Although the characters you love will NOT cure your depression or grief, they CAN keep you company and distract you from your suicidal thoughts. My eternal gratitude goes out to the supporting cast of Deep Space Nine, especially, as I watched their episodes over and over. If you’ve read my book, you know I also owe a debt of gratitude to the cast of Galaxy Quest, Re-animator, and Death Machine.  😉
  • writing what you feel instead of carrying out what you feel. I kept a journal and wrote pages and pages of letters to Dan.
  • listen to upbeat music. Depressing music may speak to your soul, but your soul is telling you to kill yourself, so speaking to it isn’t exactly the best idea right now.
  • take your dog for a walk. It will remind you that you love someone, and someone depends on you
  • call a friend or loved one. You don’t have to tell them you are suicidal if you don’t want, but it will connect you to someone that loves you
  • Do something completely spontaneous (but harmless), like geting your hair cut (or dying it purple!)
  • Go somewhere – the mall, the art museum, Starbucks, the library, to the movies, the park – anywhere that you enjoy and can distract you, uplift you, make you smile
  • Come up with your own, unique distractions. Think outside the box. My teenage daughter took to drawing intricate patterns and artwork on her body to distract herself from cutting and suicidal thoughts. It takes her time, patience, and her thoughts must be focused on what she’s doing. And, I must say, the end results are quite beautiful!

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When your thoughts become profoundly suicidal, it would be almost impossible to “make” yourself do any of these distractions. Prepare ahead of time. Make that contract with yourself, or someone who loves you. Get your distractions ready by purchasing a bottle of purple hair dye, or all 7 seasons of Deep Space Nine (hey, I had to watch TV recorded VHS tapes, commercials and all!). By being prepared, you will be much more likely to follow through when thoughts of self-harm become overwhelming.

  • Write a “Suicide Prevention Letter” to yourself ahead of time. I tried to find something like this online, but was unable. So, I’ve kind of winged it here and created my own. You can either use mine, or come up with your own letter, or template. Write it during a time when you are completely committed to living. Imagine you are inside a window, talking to your other self who is standing on a ledge, ready to jump. You MUST convince yourself not to do it: Suicide Prevention Letter to Myself.

Keep your No-Harm Contract and your Suicide Prevention Letter to yourself with you at all times, or some place where you won’t ignore it. If you hide it away in a filing cabinet somewhere, the likelihood that you will dig it out in times of crises are diminished. If you keep it on top of your dresser however, in easy reach, you can look at it, and update it, often!

  • Get all that lethal junk away from you! Especially firearms! It takes very little contemplation to pull a trigger. Get rid of those things you are most likely to kill yourself with. Pretend that your suicidal self is a child. You would not leave guns, 10 boxes of sleeping pills, or razor blades around a child. Don’t leave it around yourself either.

I am not a mental health expert. If you or a loved one is struggling with depression, self-harm, and thoughts of suicide, please get professional help. Clinical Depression is a physical illness of the brain, not an emotional frame of mind, or weakness of character. It can not be over come by strength of will. It must be treated medically. Please help end the stigma of mental illness.

Help is available 24/7 at the

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What do you think? Have you ever been suicidal, or cared for someone who has? Do you have any other suggestions for someone who is in crises right now? Please feel free to comment below!

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11 thoughts on “Suicide – How to Save Yourself

  1. A little over a year ago, my brother-in-law tried to commit suicide by hanging himself. He survived, but was left with a traumatic brain injury and is now in a long-term care facility. He needs help to bathe, feed and dress himself. Sometimes he remembers us; sometimes he doesn’t. Even with therapy, the odds of him ever returning to “normal” are slim to none. The saddest and most ironic thing is that the suicide attempt occurred in the bathroom of a hospital, while he was admitted on an 72-hour “psych hold,” following a violent altercation with my mother-in-law and her boyfriend. A place where he should have been safe and supervised and protected from doing such things (and yes, a lawsuit is pending.)

    It was the culmination of a long, dark and difficult spiral. My in-laws adopted him from Guatemala when he was three years old, and according to them, he adjusted quickly and appeared to be a normal, happy boy. But as he approached adolescence, things changed. He became moody and withdrawn and prone to fits of occasional rage, like the time he broke the windows out of my father-in-law’s car after he was grounded for ditching classes at school. He began to drink and smoke pot. My in-laws have money and could afford the best care; they took him to the best counselors and psychiatrists in the city where they lived. He was a talented guitarist, and they even transferred him to a private, arts-oriented high school after he complained of being bullied at his public school.

    For a while, things seemed to get better. He managed to graduate from high school, joined the Coast Guard, and got married. They had a daughter. But when she was two years old, she was diagnosed with a particularly virulent form of leukemia, and died just three months later. Our entire family was devastated, and my brother-in-law began spiraling down again. He and his wife divorced, and he left the Coast Guard. He tried to hold down jobs but kept getting “let go.” He began drinking and smoking again, and soon added oxycodone to the mix. He was living with my father-in-law, but got kicked out after he was caught stealing money. He would get violent and pick fights while drunk, which led to a few jail stays. He overdosed at least once; whether it was a suicide attempt or just a run-of-th-mill OD, we don’t know.

    Again, my in-laws offered him everything; psych treatment, rehab, a paid place to stay if he would just go to AA, the best treatment money could buy. He was told frequently that he was loved and we wanted to help him get well. He told us all to go to hell. At least once, according to my father-in-law, a psychiatrist diagnosed him as bipolar and put him on meds. But he stopped using them, supposedly because he didn’t like that he couldn’t get an erection while taking them. (I can’t help but wonder if this is the reason many mentally ill men don’t stay on their meds.)

    From what I can tell, my in-laws and the rest of our family did everything they could to help my brother-in-law, to no avail. Even an involuntary commitment, albeit brief, did not help him, and indeed left him permanently damaged thanks to gross negligence on the part of the hospital staff. I really don’t know anything else that could have helped, except doing the work and research to fix our extremely broken mental health system. My brother-in-law should have been sentenced to mental health treatment instead of jail, or committed for a longer period of time when it became apparent that he was seriously ill, instead of waiting until he committed a violent act against his own mother. He should have received treatment at a facility where he could get compassionate, personalized care, perhaps with meds that don’t cause nasty side effects like impotence. Maybe if we treated mental illness like cancer, instead of regarding it as a “character flaw” or a “crime,” my brother-in-law would not be where he is today, and my own heart would not be broken for him.

    • I’m so sorry for you and your brother in law. My heart goes out to your whole family! thank you for sharing such a painful, personal story. By sharing it, you help raise awareness and the need to end the stigma of mental illness. You are 100% right. Your brother should have received competent medical care from the start. Hugs to you!

  2. I don’t like talking about both my attempts, but they say you need to, as not to hold it in. It was a terrible time in my life. Wrapped up deep in a gambling addiction, undiagnosed Bi-polar and Panic & High Anxiety disorder, and I just wanted it all to stop!! First time I cut my wrists, but Blacked out, had pretty deep cuts. Off to an Addiction/Mental crisis center for 14 days. Started on meds, then again 4yrs later, took all my Meds at once, I JUST WANTED to be a NORMAL Person!!……No understood, I was depressed, unhappy, and hated myself for what I’d done through my gambling addiction. Off to the hospital and the crisis center again, this time for 3weeks. The lord pulled me back twice from the edge of Darkness for a reason. The reason now, with 6+yrs in recovery, to help others who suffer from addiction, mental & emotional illness, and to have a VOICE to HELP SHATTER the *STIGMA* of all three!! Through my published book and blog, that is what I do each day!! It is least I can do, to do the work the lord called on me to do……He did save my life….TWICE!! Thank you for this Helpful Post!
    God Bless, Catherine Lyon

    • oh, Catherine, thank goodness you are still with us! Now, you will be inspiring others and saving lives! Bless you, sweetie, and thank you for being so honest about your story. Would you consider a guest interview? If so, let me know and I will email the questions to you. =D hugs

  3. Pingback: How to Help a Grieving Person | Little Blog of Letting Go

  4. Pingback: How To Help Someone Who Is Suicidal | Little Blog of Letting Go

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