March 15, 2013: My first attempt. I can remember how hopeless I felt at the time, seeing no possible ways of getting out of my family, but I honestly don’t even remember what me and my mom were arguing about. But I do remember looking at her and truly losing the small bit of hope that I had left that she’d ever actually understand what I was feeling. That’s when I went into the bathroom, pulled out my phone, typed my suicide note, and sliced up my ankles.
Suicide is an action that has strong emotional repercussions and consequences and that affect more than just the immediate families and friends of the victims. In 2013, there were 41,149 deaths by suicide in the United States. It’s very easy to look at these numbers and to distance yourself, but every one of those people had someone out there, at least one person, who loved them, a person who may be wondering what they did wrong.
Despite the fact that most suicide prevention centers are directed towards our age group, recent years have had a spike in the middle aged group, with men being 4x more likely to be suicidal than women. All of this, when, according to AFSP.org, 90% of people who die by suicide have a potentially treatable mental disorder at the time of their death—a disorder that often has gone unrecognized and untreated. Personally, I was in the majority— I was (and am) still dealing with depression, a disorder which is very much treatable.
Some of the warning signs of someone at risk of suicide may include (but are not limited to):
- Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself.
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online or buying a gun.
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live.
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain.
- Talking about being a burden to others.
- Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs.
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly.
- Sleeping too little or too much.
- Withdrawn or feeling isolated.
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge.
- Displaying extreme mood swings.
- Preoccupation with death.
- Suddenly happier, calmer.
- Loss of interest in things one cares about.
- Visiting or calling people to say goodbye.
- Making arrangements; setting one's affairs in order.
- Giving things away, such as prized possessions.
Now, some of these (i.e. sleeping too little/too much or suddenly happier/ calmer) don’t necessarily mean a person is suicidal. For example, a person could be suddenly happier or calm because they just got a good grade on a final that they’ve been studying for for weeks , not because they’re trying to off themselves. However, if you see quite a few of these in tandem, especially the first five, then you need to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800) 273-8255.
There are lots of ways you can get help – some of them are taking medicines that help correct your brain chemistry, some are getting counseling or therapy or other treatments. Many people do best with a bit of both. The bottom line is, each person and each person’s depression is different, and you need to sort out what is right for you with your Dr.
BUT, despite all of these ways to help you medically, many people are unable to have access to these because of financial issues or because they are afraid of telling people how they are feeling (i.e. teens afraid to tell their parents, or even soldiers who won’t tell mental health professionals for fear of appearing “weak”). However despite the reasons why you can’t utilize these methods, that doesn’t mean there’s no hope! There’s a plethora of ways to help yourself, and even more ways where other people can help you also! For me, when I’m feeling on edge, I usually watch some of my favorite YouTubers or read a book. It helps me because it helps me to distance myself from what is actually going on around me. By the time I “tune in”, I have a clearer head, which helps to deal with things in a more logical sense.
Also, money should NOT be a problem when it comes to dealing with your mental health. There are apps, websites, anonymous and public, at all times of the day so that you can talk with mental health professionals, or maybe just to vent to another teen. I used an app called MeToo - The Experience Project App. The people there helped me more times than I can count. There’s also 7 Cups of Tea, another app I used when I didn’t want to talk to my friends and family because I was too embarrassed to have them judge me and see me in that light. However, once I told my mom that I was depressed and suicidal, I realized that there wasn’t any judgment; it was just me being paranoid I guess.
Suicide is a prevalent problem in this day and age, and it is NOT a solution. If you are feeling suicidal, PLEASE do NOT hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255.
Did you know that out of the 26 people who survived the plunge from the Golden Gate Bridge, all of them say that they regretted their decision about halfway down. Please don’t let that be you; also, please get help from an actual mental health provider, as this isn’t a replacement.
More from Dr. O:
Thank you for sharing all this information and your personal story. You may not know, but for young people between the ages of 10 – 24, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death. And although males account for more suicide deaths. Females are more likely to attempt suicide.
The American Association of Suicidology has a good memory tool to help you remember the warning signs of suicide – it is called Is Path Warm:
S Substance Abuse
M Mood Changes
Here is the link for full information: Warning Signs