In the United States, suicide rates are at a 30 year high. It is a major problem in our country but not something that most people want to think about, hear about, or deal with. In fact, I’ve recently been in discussions with multiple high schools, churches, and community organizations who outright said, “It’s a problem elsewhere, but not here.” Or, “We don’t want to give anyone any ideas.” This is always amazing to me because we are more than willing to talk about heart disease and cancer and sex in health class (as we should), but aren’t willing to address suicide. (It shows the stigma exists, even among the so-called “enlightened.”)
But, below are some statistics that begin to show the scope of the problem of suicide.
You see, I have struggled with the desire to die by my own hand for about the last 25 years of my life. The feeling of death being preferable to life was present before that, but at 11 and 12 suicide became a real option for me. It became something I really obsessed over and, because no one was willing to tell me differently, I thought it was normal. I constantly heard about teen moodiness and troubles and all and I thought that meant my desire to die by suicide was perfectly normal. BUT IT IS NOT! IT IS NOT NORMAL TO WANT TO DIE BY YOUR OWN HAND AND IF YOU THINK IT IS YOU NEED TO GET HELP IMMEDIATELY!
But see, no one told me otherwise. We did not talk about mental illness or mental health anywhere that I was. Even though roughly 20% of teenagers have a mental illness, we never talked about it in school. We never talked about it in church. We didn’t talk about it at other social places that I was supposed to learn about me. No, mental illness and suicide was a direct taboo, something that only evil, terrible, selfish people did. And I wanted to in the worst way at times. The desire being so strong that many times I almost gave in. Or, if I would have had the means readily available, I would have given in (I’m alive by God’s grace).
No, I was not told that I should not have these thoughts, that I could get better, until I was 32 years old. According to multiple people, the fact I made it this long without a serious attempt at my own life is a miracle. And I agree. I know the times I held knives over my wrists (I didn’t want my mom to clean up the mess) or the time I tried to take a bottle of pills and threw up or the other times. And no one ever told me that I could get help. No one. My parents tried, but the counselor thought I was fine (what an idiot). No, no one told me it could be different.
But it can be different. I’ve lived for four years now in a state of semi-recovery. I won’t say that those desires, that my suicidal ideation, is totally gone. It’s not. I still have moments where that seems preferable. But they are fleeting. I have not written a note in a long time. I have gotten help because help is available. And you can get help to because it is available. There is hope. There is more than wanting nothing more than to die: there is life and we are committed to helping you find that.