When I was finally able to start speaking out about my suicide attempt, I only knew that I was relieving a burden that had been holding me back. The overdose had taken so much joy and happiness from my life and the way I treated myself in the following years only added to that pain.
Soon after I opened up, people began to share with me about losses they had from losing a loved one to suicide or personal struggles with mental health. When I started this journey i wanted to heal, and hoped that if another person heard my story and could relate , they may be helped as well. I thought I might inspire someone to open up about their struggles before they got to a place in their life that death seemed the only option. You may often hear suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem, and while that is true, to the person who is suffering it is very real and seems the only viable option. My biggest word of caution is to not judge another person’s circumstance, even if you have been through something similar. We all handle and process our struggles and grief differently because we are all unique.
One of the greatest things about opening up has been the opportunity to meet some amazing people and be invited to events and training. With that opportunity comes a great responsibility though, because once you share, or put yourself in a public light with your story or your knowledge, people will come to you; they may want to open up to you because you feel like a safe place. Even for those who have never suffered a loss, if you tell someone you have taken training in a suicide assist or awareness class, they may be more open to sharing their struggle with you.
The first time I spoke at a public event, I shared on Facebook stating I was speaking at a 5k Suicide Prevention run for the Hawaii National Guard. In sharing that post, I had a lot of “likes” and comments; but I had one person reach out to me and say they were suicidal at that time. At that point all I wanted to do was to help that person, but I was unsure if I would say the wrong thing, or make it about how I dealt with my own struggle. We made it through together, and praise God, she is still alive today! That day I vowed to get educated on assisting others who were in jeopardy of killing themselves, or “suiciding”.
I was recently invited to attend ASIST training, a two day suicide first aid course. This would be my first formal training. To date I have only spoken at events, and in one case attended a workshop put on by the Hawaii Department of Health on how to effectively tell my story. After the first day I had someone that I hold in one of the closest and dearest places in my heart tell me that they were in such despair they were thinking of killing themselves, and I received a text saying “check fb” which sent panic through my whole body. Of course it took “forever” for Facebook to load, and when I was finally able to log on, they had sent me their suicide letter. We were able to talk, and get them to a place to be “safe for now”.
One thing I feel confident in now is my ability to open up and say suicide aloud, this has allowed others know that it is okay to vocalize how dark they are feeling! If I had done that maybe my story or life path would be different. If I had shown I was hurting instead of putting on a brave face, maybe I would have been more willing to open up about how the despair I felt. I don’t know and I will never know, but I do know where I am today and what a great responsibility I have to shed light on and be proactive and get trained in this subject.
Those who suicide and attempt survivors are real people, with real problems; and we just have a different, albeit drastic way of dealing with our pain, but to us the pain and darkness is very real.
I am grateful for the opportunity to be educated and to share my story in hopes of educating others to a subject that has brought me shame and embarrassment for so long. A subject for so many that is taboo. I am learning how to help others, and I am healing myself as I transition along this path. I am learning to accept myself for who I am, flaws and all.
If I can leave you with one word of advice, or “homework” it would be this… If you don’t think you can ask someone who you know seems depressed or in a dangerous place please practice in a mirror or with family or friends saying aloud , “are you thinking of killing yourself?”or “are you suicidal?” Simply asking someone if they are going to “harm” themselves is not the same as ending their life! Learning those words are okay to say out loud, being uncomfortably comfortable saying those words to another human being could save their life!