Suicide Prevention Month: A Handful

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This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.

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“In the past, have you ever attempted to seriously hurt yourself?”

She means have I ever attempted suicide.

I wiped my sweaty palms on my jeans.

“Um, yeah. I’ve attempted,” I counted with my fingers in my lap. “…about, a handful of times.”

A handful. A neat five little fingers. I summed it all up to that.

What couldn’t fit into a handful was the nights on the cold linoleum tiles of my dorm room floor sobbing, imploding, tucking all my body parts into each other in hopes that if I became small enough, I could cease to exist.

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Suicide Prevention Month: Love Letters to Myself

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This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.

love-letter-e1393478060868Walking back to my apartment one night, I passed by the fluorescent lighting of the local hospital. The combination of the sight of the emergency room and the sour, medicinal smell made me remember my suicide attempt in a way that was so visceral, I started shaking, feeling my lungs tighten around my ribcage and wondering when the tears would start.

I will spare the details of my attempt because for some time I hated anyone who knew what happened that night. I hated my friends for calling the EMTs. I hated my college’s crisis counselor for holding my hand in the ambulance. I hated the nurse who gave me crackers when I woke up the next morning in a hospital bed, embarrassed and terrified they would force me to leave school for the rest of the semester.

I wanted to hate myself, too, but they told me not to do that anymore.

I was able to leave the hospital the next morning and go back to school, but not without the pain of being abandoned by friends who believed I was too dramatic. This resulted in my habit of pretending nothing happened at all. The rest of the semester was shaky, filled with constant uncertainty and regular reminders that the word “survivor” now applied to my life.

But I slowly started to learn what it meant to be a person, to be alive. I began to journal. “Dear Self,” the first entry started. “You have been pissing me off a lot lately. No, really. I try to coddle you and make you feel comfortable, and you repay me in panic attacks, suicide attempts, and an inability to leave bed. This letter is your final written warning that I will not put up with your bullshit anymore.”

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Suicide Prevention Month: A Life Worth Living

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This post is part of a Suicide Prevention Month blog series. Read the other blogs here.

you are not a burden active minds suicide prevention monthAccording to the Interpersonal Theory of Suicide (Van Orden et al., 2010), desires for suicide arise from a combination of perceived burdensomeness (i.e. “the world would be better off without me”) and thwarted belongingness (i.e. “no one will ever truly love or understand me”).

The capability for suicide is a separate, yet crucial factor that interacts with these desires. Where capability is present, there is the most acute, immediate, and serious risk for suicide. However, many people experience persistent desires for suicide without capability for it. That was the case for me for most of my life.

I’ve almost always felt like a burden –which makes sense considering that my father, frustrated that I didn’t have the attributes he had wanted in a child, frequently said I was a burden.

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