Attempting Suicide: Why Did You Do It?
Trying to Explain The Unexplainable
“The person in whom … invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise.
Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant.
The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames. And yet nobody down on the sidewalk, looking up and yelling ‘Don’t!’ and ‘Hang on!’, can understand the jump. Not really.
You’d have to have personally been trapped and felt flames to really understand a terror way beyond falling.”~ David Foster Wallace
Sometimes people choose to jump.
Jumping is not easy.
It is terrifying.
Sometimes staying alive is an ongoing form of physical torment due to emotional pain and you reach a point where you cannot bear it anymore.
It does not mean that if you had waited another hour, or reached out for help to get through that surge of intensity — that you would not feel differently an hour or a day later.
But once you jump, the decision is usually fatal.
Feeling like a burden
The distressing part for most of us who have been suicidal or attempted suicide is that you feel that:
- living with clinical depression and angst, you are ‘dragging’ loved ones constantly down and they will be better off without you being around like that, OR;
- the pretense of constantly having to ‘put on a face’ becomes too much.
When you are this depressed, and on your own, and add pills and alcohol to the mix (which are often taken to cope but also lower inhibition and overcome the inherent fear to take the steps necessary to end life) the impulse to stop the ongoing emotional pain can overcome your will to live.
It is actually that simple.
It is not complicated.
There is shame in constantly battling depression, constantly asking for help, and constantly saying over the years, “This is still happening.”
Many people in society see depression as:
- a moral weakness
- a character failing or flaw
- a sign of ‘lack of trying.’
- and evidence of selfishness.
It can get harder and harder over a lifetime to ask for help as all these attitudes rub off and you internalize them.
We all inherit different genetic makeups, coping abilities, childhood histories, traumas, and support systems or lack of support systems.
All of these feelings, thoughts, and shame come together when an impulse to commit suicide becomes overwhelming.
It is terrifying to feel this awful for long periods of time, and exceptionally hard to pull yourself back from the depth of this sort of angst and despair.
It can feel as physically painful as burning — it is that extreme and feels that unbearable.
- The shame of trying and trying and never feeling like you can overcome.
- The shame of ‘taking medication’ when others say that you shouldn’t or don’t need to, or are silly to do so.
- The shame of using food or alcohol to cope
- The shame of struggling with addiction and constantly failing.
- The shame of family getting exhausted emotionally with supporting you.
- The shame of the financial cost of dealing with your mental illness.
- The shame of exposure, of having to admit “Yet again, I am going downhill.”
The shame of people asking:
You have money.
You have a partner.
You have children.
Why are they not enough?
What is wrong with you?
It all generates shame as IT IS NOT ABOUT ANY OF THAT.
You KNOW all those reasons for why your life should feel worthwhile, good and precious, and you feel even worse when you STILL feel suicidal.
What is suicidality about
- It is about something within you, inside of you, that wells up.
- It is a sadness, and a pain that is all-encompassing and blackens everything, that you wish was not there, that you always try to throw off, but is like a blanket that smothers all happiness.
- It is about feeling there is something broken and inherently wrong in you that you cannot fix despite having all the ‘will’ in the world thrown at it by you to fix it.
- It is about waking up and seeing the disappointment on loved one’s faces when once again you are depressed and not well.
- It is about faking it, so you don’t have to face it and then one day, deciding you cannot pretend anymore.
Depression is like living with a monster that inhabits you, that you do not want, that everyone else does not want to see either, and you end up protecting others sometimes, by sometimes saying that the monster has gone, to make them happy but then you are left alone to deal with the monster.
Sometimes the monster wins.
And then everyone loses.
Do not let the monster win. Reach out and talk to someone.
Depression and suicide are serious issues, and my heart breaks for all those dealing with these feelings.
If you need to talk or you know somebody struggling, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1–800–273-TALK (8255) or text with someone at the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.