The Plague of Suicide
If you’ve thought about suicide, or lost a loved one to suicide, you need to know that you’re not alone! If you currently feel hopeless, I urge you to call the suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255, or you can send an anonymous email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sometimes it helps just to write out what you’re feeling, and someone will respond.
Editor’s Note: Cindi is very open and honest in what follows about her own journey and speaks openly about suicide and attempts at suicide. While we commend her on her transparency and the associated message of hope, we also recognize that such a message can be difficult for some people to read. If you are one of those people, I encourage you to skip to the last paragraph and check out our Suicide Help Center for more information and helpful resources on the issue of suicide.
In the past, I have rarely ever mentioned the topic of suicide. The mere mention of the word would make my heart feel like it was going to beat out of my chest. Today, I choose to talk about suicide freely.
The Plague of Suicide
Suicide seems to have plagued my family. It has been in my life for a long time, both as a concept and as a reality. I remember being in a school as a child that was toxic to me. I was made fun of, talked about, criticized and belittled. During that period, I prayed for God to end my life. I remember the first time I had the thought I didn’t need to ask God to do it – I could take matters into my own hands!
I started to think about ways I could it. I had a knife, I would sit and start to cut at my arm, hoping I could be brave enough to go far enough to end my life. I never did muster up that “courage,” which only added to my lack of self-esteem. On another occasion, I thought I could accomplish it by taking whole bottle of Aspirin. I was in elementary school, and maybe part of me wasn’t ready to die, but I just wanted the emotional pain to stop. I remembered the day my mom had gotten a call that one of her friends had taken 200 heart pills in a failed attempt to end her life. I was heartbroken and devastated because this friend was someone we were all close too, and I deeply cared about her. I thought later that maybe that was a good way out. I believe I was in 7th grade when I found a variety of old pills at my grandmother’s house – some were heart pills. I thought this attempt might be finally be the successful one, but again, it just made me sick. Growing up, my dad had guns, but he didn’t keep the ammunition accessible. I remember snatching a bullet one day when we were out shooting and hiding it in my room in case the day came that I just couldn’t take it any more. Though suicide didn’t win with me, but it did other family members of mine still suffer long-term damage from failed suicide attempts.
It was 7 months ago when suicide finally turned my family upside down. We had been watching the world series at my husband’s grandparent’s house. We had invited my brother-in-law to join us. Though my team lost, we had a fun night, and we were cracking jokes as we left to go home. The next night, I tried to text my brother-in-law, but there was no reply. This wasn’t really alarming as it was sort of late at night, and he was a 19-year-old college kid.
The following night, I was at a friend’s house when I got a phone call from my sister-in-law. She asked me if my husband was home, I wasn’t sure. She exclaimed that there was a family emergency. She said,
She said it in a sort of hyper way, and I would later realize it was because she was in shock. I asked what he needed, I assumed he had car trouble or something. She explained,
“He’s gone. I tried to call 911, but he wasn’t responsive.”
In denial and shock I asked,
“Where is he? Is he at the hospital?”
I assumed he was in a coma or something. She again replied,
“No, he’s gone. I was too late.”
I asked what happened and she said,
“His depression got the best of him.”
I remember replying,
“He did this to himself?!”
My body went numb and I dropped to my knees. I told my friend what had happened. I began sobbing uncontrollably as I ran out the door to my car to try to get home to my husband. I wanted to be with him when he found out. He still remembers the look on my face as I called him outside to our deck to break the news without our children present. He was in immediate denial, and neither of us will ever forget that night.
Our life hasn’t been the same since that phone call. Amos was the life of the party, the center of attention, and always quick to help and encourage people. Though I knew he had a lot of anxiety about school, I never imagined that he would take his own life. I worried about him when he was little. I was a middle child, and though he was the baby of the family, I felt like I could relate to him. He struggled with anger, and liked to push the rules. I felt like we both were the black sheep of our families.
Since losing Amos, I have heard a lot of misconceptions about suicide. I’ve had people tell me to accept that this was his choice. Though I am not so sure it was. I have heard it said:
“Suicide is not chosen; it happens when pain exceeds resources for coping with pain.”
I believe this to be true.
Hope and the Continuing Struggle
For me, I have always tried to remove myself from situations that cause me pain. As a child, I didn’t have this choice. Most everything was chosen for me, and my voice was not heard.
For years after my last suicide attempt, I wondered why I wasn’t ever successful. I felt like I wasn’t brave enough to end my own life. The change came for me the day my baby girl was born. I was 20 years old. I sat on the edge of the hospital bed, and looked at her big brown eyes. That day, I felt like I had purpose. I had a beautiful baby that needed me. I wish I could say that was the end of my mental struggles, but I will say that it did change me. While I have since had many feelings of worthlessness, having her gave me a reason to live.
Had I been successful with taking my own life, it wouldn’t have brought me relief from my pain. I would have taken away any chance of my life here on earth getting better. Overcoming my pain brought me relief. Do I have scars? Absolutely! I have both emotional and physical scars. I found ways to cope, and coping looks different for different people. The important thing is to find healthy ways to cope. I went to a counseling for a couple of years, and I have worked hard to stay out of toxic situations.
So while suicide used to be something I didn’t talk about, today I share about it today because I want people to know they aren’t alone. I suffered silently for too long, and didn’t realize I could get help in a safe way. So if you’re reading this, I promise that you’re here for a reason and your life has purpose! I urge you to take that step toward healing and coping. If you know someone who has struggled, don’t be angry with them. Take their cry for help seriously, because not everyone hears a cry for help until it’s too late.
For more information and helpful resources, please visit our Hope 4 Hurting Kids Suicide Help Center.