Suicide is hard to talk about. While typing this article, even spelling out the word felt foreign to me. The stigma that envelops suicide and mental illness makes it difficult to discuss the subject, which is why Suicide Prevention Week is so important. By talking about personal experiences, hopefully we can break the silence on suicide.
Years ago, when I was in high school, I went through an extremely difficult time that changed me as a person. I went from being a happy, energetic teenager to someone who could hardly get out of bed in the morning. I turned in on myself, canceling plans, ignoring texts and isolating myself from friends and family. I thought no one would understand, that they would think I was a freak for being sad all the time, or for having dark thoughts. I thought there was something wrong with me, that I deserved to be unhappy. There was such a powerful stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide that I feared talking about it, which only made it worse.
Flash forward one year later, and I am talking to a friend of mine. After a long night of sharing secrets, they admit to me that they had attempted suicide several years earlier. I was completely floored. Although we were not close during that time in their life, I never had any of idea that they had ever been at that point. I was one of the few people they had told, because they feared being judged. Not long after, I had an identical conversation with another friend of mine who had also tried to end their life, but kept it secret for fear of judgement and ridicule.
Unfortunately, this would not be my last experience with suicide in my personal life. Just a few months later, one of my best friends was hospitalized for suicidal ideations. When I found out, I was incredibly angry at myself. I had been there. I should have known the signs because I lived the signs. I could have helped them, if only I had known. If only they had talked to me. It dawned on me then that even though they were one of my best friends, I had never talked to them about my own battle with suicidal thoughts and depression either.
The people in my life who have had these dark thoughts felt as if no one would care or listen, and that no one would understand. So, they just didn’t talk about it. This just made everything so much worse. Had they felt comfortable enough to talk about suicide and depression, maybe they never would have tried to end their lives.
If you are in a bad place right now and reading my article, I hope that my point is clear−you are not wrong, you are not alone and it is okay to talk about your feelings, even if it’s hard to do. When I was at my lowest, so far down that I never thought I would be happy again, I wish that someone had told me that I was worth it, that I wasn’t crazy. If you are looking for a sign, any sign at all, that this life is worth it, here is your sign. You are loved, and you will be okay.