A personal story

“Never kill yourself when you’re depressed” a philosopher of suicide famously quipped (Brandt, 1980). Though blithe, he said so for good reason: it is a permanent decision based on the depths of a despair that is physically impossible for the human machine to maintain entirely.

For me, it’s also been a truism when in psychosis and when heartbroken. That hasn’t stopped me from trying, anyway. I wish it had.

After every suicide attempt I have been surer that I didn’t need to nearly die to get to this clarity — it comes from simply surviving the pain preceding the attempt itself.

At my strongest, having voices in my head telling me my life is not worth living can activate a protective mechanism that makes me more determined to live despite it all.

I didn’t need to attempt suicide to get to the point where I have to think, “no I won’t” and get angry or more certain that there is beauty, or reason, or suffering and life to be had. This is why I am writing.

It is a very normal human experience to consider no longer existing. That normalcy does not negate that seriously entertaining ending one’s life requires support (not coercion or restraint), especially if it is something that someone lives with for days and weeks at a time.

This is something I usually do not have to deal with, as I said, my truly suicidal moments come most often in the form of psychosis or responses to life events, but having bipolar I can enter periods of depression where the suicidality is more chronic.

For some survivors especially with chronic depression, these thoughts are daily and unceasing. I believed at one time that I understood their struggle because I also live with suicidal ocd (s-ocd) and get suicidal images projected in my mind at random times throughout most days of my life, and used to worry this meant I was at immediate risk. (I still struggle to differentiate my own risk levels at times.) These images are unrelated to my actual risk of suicide and basically need to be ignored like so much mind garbage, however hard it is to do.

When it’s not s-ocd, living with suicidal thoughts or images is something that can be a catalyst for changing one’s entire life, or sometimes can be a sign that it is something else or some circumstance that needs to change, even if it can only be in a very small way—not you that needs alter yourself to fit the world, or worse, to leave it.

I want everyone who has had thoughts of ending their life and yet gone on living anyway, or better yet, gotten up to seek support, to see themselves in the very normal human collective of people with a lived experience of suicide.

You too have faced the darkness, and you know nobody should have to do it alone.

– By Anna Angel

Date Published
March 11, 2024
suicidal thoughts , suicidality , suicide attempt
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