About the blog

This blog came about because I have a theory, and I’d like to know if the thinking is right or wrong.

I worry that some people, young and old, are going into suicide attempts with serious misconceptions. Maybe they’ve been influenced by romanticized images in films, books or elsewhere and assume that killing themselves will be easy. As if a collection of random pills will do it, and they’ll drift away. (Emma in “Madame Bovary:” “I shall fall asleep and all will be over.”) Or they assume that harsher methods _ a gunshot, a jump _ are so violent that they’re foolproof.

Nothing is foolproof. I now know several people who have shot themselves and survived. The New Yorker wrote about people who jumped off the Golden Gate Bridge and survived. I know people who have put themselves into comas with overdoses, attacked themselves with knives and razors, jumped from buildings, set themselves on fire.

“When it comes to death by suicide, the body is not going to cooperate _ it is not designed to,” the suicidologist Thomas Joiner and colleagues have written.

Some people _ how many? _ go into their suicide attempt assuming it will work and instead emerge with a body that is long or permanently damaged. People have been paralyzed. They have damaged their livers with pills. They have faced months or years of reconstructive surgery or physical rehabilitation. Hospital bills alone have reshaped their lives.

Julie Holland, who wrote “Weekends at Bellevue” about her time in the psychiatric emergency room there, put it bluntly: “These are the most pathetic things that I deal with, bar none _ the botched suicides. … It’s tougher than you think to end it all, take my word. And after a failed attempt? You thought your life sucked before, just wait.”

From the 2010 article in The Atlantic, “Death Becomes Him,” about one assisted suicide group in Europe: “Luley described some of the people who, having failed in their own suicide attempts, had contacted Dignitas to finish the job. ‘One lady jumped eight stories down to a paved parking lot. Now she is in a wheelchair. Then there was a man who shot himself in the face, but survived. Another leapt in front of a train and lost both his legs.’”

For another perspective, you can read Dorothy Parker’s poem “Resume.”

Or Lewis Wolpert: “Though I am a biologist, I did not know of a fail-safe way to kill myself. … I hoarded my sleeping pills and heart pills but was not sure they would work, and I did not want to end up even worse off, if such a thing were possible.”

Or, finally, Kay Redfield Jamison, who may be the best-known current writer about suicide: “Laypeople … were wildly variable in their understanding of different methods. They overestimated (when compared with the pathologists) the effects of prescription drug overdoses and wrist cutting and underestimated the deadliness of gunshot.”

I believe that some people who try to kill themselves set out to destroy their suffering, not their bodies. They don’t consider that their lives could end up more limited than they were in the first place. They just want things to be over.

That seems like an awful gamble to me. “Maybe this will work,” people say. I’ve said it myself.

There’s so little we know about this. The issue should be studied and reported. How many people have been affected? How many wish they had known far more about the possible consequences before they tried to kill themselves?

I’ve found a couple of studies. Russel Ogden in Canada has written about botched suicides there. And law professor Roger Magnusson in Australia has explored the issue: “The fact is that very little is known about the prevalence of ‘botched’ attempts. … Of the 88 firsthand accounts of involvement given by interviewees, 17 (19 percent) involved ‘botches.’ … The rate of botched attempts may well be higher where health care workers are not involved.”

One anonymous poll of people who posted in the “I attempted suicide” section of The Experience Project website shows that one-third of respondents have replied “yes” when asked, “Have any of your suicide attempts caused long-term damage?”

I think that the more that people know about the risks, the less they’ll look to suicide, especially in impulsive moments. And the more openly we talk about suicide overall, the less people will find themselves isolated and desperate and trying to “fix” everything themselves based on information from who knows where. (So much is anonymous online.)

The danger also cuts in the other direction. Some people who misjudge a method and aren’t meaning to kill themselves die by accident. Here’s one example from a New York Times story in March 2013 from Afghanistan: “Nabila tried to eat just enough poison to scare her family but not kill herself. But she misjudged. Overwhelmed by guilt and grief, Fareba followed by taking her own life on the doorstep of the city’s most holy shrine.”

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe others who think about suicide don’t feel this way. But I know that I’m here because I was too scared to take those risks. I researched various methods and ruled out many because of what could happen to me if I failed. (I ruled out others for the risks posed to first responders or others connected to the scene, but that’s another story.)

That kind of fear can be a deterrent. The message should become a key part of suicide prevention efforts, because the usual and overly simple message _ “Don’t do it” _ doesn’t begin to say enough.

There. I’ve said what’s most important to me at the moment on the subject of suicide. It’s been pressing at me for months, and I feel better to be putting it out there.

If this makes sense, or if you’ve lived the risk I’ve described here, I’d like to hear from you.

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16 thoughts on “About the blog

  1. i believe you are right to a point. the unfortunate fact is that there are over 30,000 ‘successful’ suicide attempts each year in the US alone.

    education about suicide is a double-edged sword; it can lead to both prevention and completion.

    finally, i am glad you have found a mechanism to keep you alive. you say ‘fear’ is what is keepng you from trying. i would recommend using that as just a starting point. recovery will happen when the joy of living is what is keeping you around. depression is a nasty beast. it can make one very fearless…

  2. As a “veteran” of several suicide attempts, I have never really considered “fear” to be an obstacle. I feel that when you really get that down, that overwhelmed and that burdened with life that you start to contemplate and plan suicide that fear really ceases to be an obstacle in many situations. In my last attempt I remember being a little fearful of the feeling the drugs were giving me (I OD’d on pills), but my desire to end my life, as cruddy as it is, was overwhelming. There is something very fearless about attempting suicide, as John suggests. My question though is “When does fear weigh more than the motivation for suicide?”

  3. I am a suicide attempt survivor using pain pills, 14 years ago, which, according to the doctor involved, should have “destroyed” my liver; it did not. The only ill effects I have suffered have been from the superior attitudes of people who have never felt that death was the only way out of hopelessness, such as is evidenced in the brutally cold words of “Julie Holland, who wrote ‘Weekends at Bellevue’ about her time in the psychiatric emergency room there, put it bluntly: ‘These are the most pathetic things that I deal with, bar none _ the botched suicides. … It’s tougher than you think to end it all, take my word. And after a failed attempt? You thought your life sucked before, just wait.'”

    If dying by suicide was so terribly hard, there wouldn’t be over 30,000 successful attempts every year in the US alone, would there?

    Reaching people before they attempt suicide–before they run up against the cold-hearted Julie Hollands of medicine and law enforcement–reaching out to them with compassion and friendship and love is the only correct response.

    “You thought your life sucked before,…”
    What kind of person even thinks that, let alone puts it in writing? Disgusting.

    How about we de-stigmatize suicide? How about we make mental health solutions an affordable option? And, no, $80 to over $100 for 50 minutes is not “affordable”.

    I am so tired of the glib “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem” cliché response from people who have no idea if the problem that drove a person to attempt or succeed at suicide was temporary or not. Obviously–obviously–if the problem
    didn’t at least seem permanent, no
    person would not see suicide as the only answer.

    Here’s one last thing: We all die. All of us. The desperate, the cold-hearted and the glib. Nothing can stave off that inevitable experience. So, who’s to say that suicide–a person choosing death when they feel they’ve had enough–is wrong? Only the self-righteous, the cold and the selfish, that’s who.

  4. I can only speak from my own experience, but logic, fear, and rational throught had nothing to do with getting rid of the horrendous mental/emotional pain. I did not sit down and think about it, the results, or the outcome. And at that critical point nothing anyone said–no talk or advice–was going to make a difference.

    • My sister is at that point right now. My whole goal today is to find some advice from someone who HAS attempted suicide. I could care less what social workers or health workers have to say – that’s just the textbook version, not the REAL version. I used to be suicidal and majorly depressed. It’s a brain thing. It might start off as psychological, but it eventually changes into a brain chemical thing – so psychology just wasn’t good enough – the psychology could not work until the medications worked. Anyway – my sister is in a very bad place – worse than I have ever been. Do you have any suggestions to how I can help support her? What helped you, even a little?

    • sometimes the mental and emotional pain someone feels it’s just too much fro someone to cope with, so thy feel suicide is the only way out without even thinking rationally about the fact that their death will leave people they knew, loved and cared about distraught ^_^

  5. Lisa, thinking back to that awful time, I did try to die, I had no thought of harming myself, i just wanted relief from the pain. I was in therapy at the time but it wasn’t helping. What happened was that I was hospitalized and the hospital took control for a time. I could not speak or describe the pain to anyone, so my best friend just sat with me. One thing that occurred was that I became angry about having no control and it spirred me on a bit. I don’t know if the meds helped, but was told it would get worse before getting better. Another thing I remember was that listening to music helped stir something inside.
    I can only wish the best for you and your sister. Unfortunately, we sometimes have to find our own answers. Please let me know how both of you are doing, and know that no one is to blame.

  6. There is nothing romantic about considering suicide, and most who theorize about those who do assume there is some well-thought out logic or reason to explain it. It is obvious many theorists have never experienced that level of pain and do not understand it. And unfortunately these are often therapists.

  7. Hi, my name is Emma Anglavar, I am doing a health project in which required us to find a blog about our topic. Which lead me here (suicide). I find it wonderful what you are doing, sharing with others your experience in the hopes of helping someone else. It is so upsetting that 30,000 successful suicides happen every year in the US alone. Getting your story out and sharing to let others know they aren’t alone is just one way to help prevent it from happening again. I believe that support is key and that is what you are doing here.

  8. My name is … well not really ready for that. I have recently failed at my suicide and having mixed feelings about it. I have seen what havoc it created to my loved ones and vowed not to let this happen again. However I am at a loss about how to go forward. I can’t concentrate, kind of in a limbo state waiting to get help, there is quite a waiting list here in New Brunswick, Canada. I have started a blog, exercising, eating right, saying yes to any time some one wants to go do something, trying hard not to isolate. This is really hard, an I am in constant vigilance not to get back into the same spiral. Surviving suicide is not without it’s consequences. Making the decision that it isn’t an option makes those consequences all the more sharp.

    http://fcknowwhat.blog.com/

  9. I totally agree with your post. You should definitely educate yourself before even considering it. There seems to be a misconception that if you attempt suicide you will be pitied and helped. It just doesn’t happen that way – all it does it give the medical community a blank slate to do whatever they want with you – and that can mean a long time in lock up. And doctors do not like people who attempt suicide so you can expect to be treated like shit.
    Also don’t ever call a suicide help line – I’ve detailed my reasons for this at

    http://www.jackslookingat.com/ramblings–rants/the-suicide-help-line

    Hope this helps someone

  10. I would like to help anyone who is feeling suicidal . i know how it feels to be worthless, feeling like no one is there for you anymore.and knowing that no one cares. i have felt this way before . Suicide isn’t something people should ” joke ” about. Well anyways, my goal in life is to SAVE a life. NO ONE deserves to feel like this, were all worth something even if it doesn’t feel like it.Someone loves you & just imagine killing yourself. how do you think the people that love you will feel? They might want to kill themselves to .. :/ Please don’t do this! You were born here on this earth for a reason! This pain will end, i promise. Do not fear to ask for help, people are here for you.
    I have a lot more to say to everyone who feels like this. I know you might just be depressed,broken.feel worthless, etc.. But just know that in the end, were all going to be happy.This doesn’t mean to kill yourself. Everyone deserves to live because there is someone out in the world who needs you,couldn’t imagine life without you.
    Also when people say ” give me a reason not to” i have all the reasons you shouldn’t commit suicide or cut. i will list all them
    _ EVERYONE is worth something even if it doesn’t seem like it.
    _ Cutting wont solve anything. just brings more pain.
    _Someone loves you, think about your family,friends,boyfriend & girlfriend.
    _ Just imagine how someone that loves you would feel if you died.
    _ People who bully are just jealous!
    _ DON’T let people get to you! You’re beautiful, regardless of how you look,or how much you weigh.
    Now here goes my story.. I haven’t tried killing myself, but i have thought about it & i’m only 13. Every time someone sees me for the first time or meets me, they always have to say something about my size. ” Your’e so skinny” or ” You’re like a twig” . I try to act like i don’t care, but it really gets to me.
    I’ve managed to stay strong through everything no matter how hard it is. I listen to depressing music every night, sometimes i even cry myself to sleep. but its not just cause i get called these things, its also because of a guy. this might sound like a stupid reason to cry, but i have my reasons .. i don’t want to talk about this or i’ll break down :(
    Well i hope this helped anyone.. and if you want to talk, just reply to this comment. I hope i made you smile, and realize that YOUR BEAUTIFUL, YOUR WORTH SOMETHING & SOMEONE LOVES YOU!
    stay strong! You’ll get through this <3 Keep holding on.

  11. I have suicide thoughts for years. It’s useless trying to tell anyone about it because they can’t or won’t do anything about it. So I didn’t tell anyone. To me, it’s not important that people know it, after all, what can they do about it? They’d only look down at me or take it that nothing’s happening. When time comes for me to go, I’d just go. Who cares?
    Suicidal people wants to do it because they may have too much depression, worries, and no hope to revive. And no one cares. Readers may only read about them, feeling how awful, and stupid they are to end their lives, but they never can really feel how much pressure, depressed and torture we feel. If only they would really care.

    • Omega: You are the first and best blog that has just hit it right on the head. I have thought about suicide for years and it is getting worse every year. I am now at the point that it is a 24/7 thought and I am slowly giving my things away. This isn’t just a moments thought. We actually have NO control of what our brains are doing to us. People don’t understand that. I didn’t ask for or force myself to have deep depression. It happens and we have no control. I always think “Why do people try to stop you from ending it when it’s none of their business. I don’t try to stop them from living because that’s what they want.” Your second paragraph is what is so accurate. I am depressed, worry constantly and have zero hope. I do not want any pity, I just want out of this misery. I see people enjoying life and it hurts because I am unable to. Again, not my choice. I isolate myself because of depression and always feeling out of place. I am trying to get my house in order and have they way mapped out. Family? No use for. Friends? Have none. Wife and kids? That’s what has kept me here so far. Don’t think the kids would weep too much and my wife would totally understand because I have talked about it for so long and she knows I’m miserable. I just don’t want to leave her “holding the bag” on all the crap that a person has to deal with. Not even my shrink really listens. Just writes another prescription and walks you out. I am so miserable I look at it as just taking up space for others that want to be around. Misery free seems so awesome. May soon happen.

  12. honestly how many people need to die before we realize that we need to start being nice to other people and not just so concerned about our friend group . we need to reach out and treat others how we would want to be treated , everyone in there life time will have a situation or already has when they are the old ball out and they are either going to a new school , job , church etc. and you will want to fit in and make new friends . what’s better then having someone come up to you and talk to you and start to be your friend . those kinds of people we need to be like . 12-19 year old teenagers are killing themselves because they don’t want to be here anymore . there is a reason why you don’t usually see 25+ people committing suicide and that’s because after collage it doesn’t matter who is popular , what clothes you wear, getting 400+ likes on Instagram , like my dad tells me ” when you get older you start to not care about what people think about you , and you can do and live your life how ever you want too without worrying about what the popular people or your friends will think ” . life is a precious thing and we shouldn’t be the reason why they don’t want to live anymore , it’s basically like killing someone with your words . words hurt , and people don’t realize that , they just think it’s a joke and that the person they harmed with there words will forget about it . I mean how bad would you feel if the person you said was ugly or fat or you got mad at one of your close friends and told them to kill themselves and then they did it ? I know that I wouldn’t want to see everyone crying and being so sad because I said that to someone and then later they killed themselves . suicide is a serious thing and when people come to our schools to teach us about it , sometimes kids don’t get how serious this can be or it just goes in one ear out the other like most of kids at school these days . I’m telling you right now that it’s time to make a change and it can start with you , no one needs to live and die a sad life . these kids that are dying also have a family and they love their kids more then they love themselves .we can prevent suicide because if we all treat everyone with respect and not judge them for what they look like or how they talk or what they wear then we can all be friends and no one will feel left out or hated . this is for everyone that’s reading this , don’t think that this is for someone else or that you are already perfect in being nice to people because no one is perfect and we can always improve .

    • Please……I have been in the emergency response business for 30 yrs. 99.9% of suicides I have had to deal with are well over 30 yrs. of age. Your blather is nonsense to the majority of those that are in this position.

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