I tried to die multiple times, but I'm still here
I’m not sure why I’ve been so consumed with the thought of suicide, but like lots of people who suffer from depression and mental illness, I just wanted to be in a place where I didn’t have to be in pain anymore.
I’ve been obsessed with endings my entire life. Specifically, my ending. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t wonder about what it would feel like to die.
As I grew up and grew into my skin, I stopped wondering and started to actively do something about achieving an ending. I was eleven when I first tried to commit suicide. My family took me to a psychiatrist who diagnosed depression and prescribed Prozac. That was the beginning of an on-again, off-again relationship with antidepressants. But it wasn’t the end of my trying to die. In fact, I was just getting started.
I’m not sure why I’ve been so consumed with the thought of suicide, but like lots of people who suffer from depression and mental illness, I just wanted to be in a place where I didn’t have to be in pain anymore. I wanted to stop living because life was too impossible to contemplate. I wrote religiously in diaries through my childhood and it’s painful to read some of the entries now. A recurring theme was not wanting to feel anything, and death, I reasoned to myself, was a good way to stop feeling. It was the end of all things, and I wanted it.
I’ve crossed roads blindly without looking on either side and have narrowly missed being hit by oncoming traffic. I’ve overdosed on sleeping pills more than once, and have been rushed to hospital while half comatose. I’ve walked into the ocean. I’ve gotten drunk and then recklessly eaten sleeping pills and painkillers, hoping to poison myself. I’ve slashed my wrists multiple times. I’ve stood at the precipice of a cliff, and been talked out of jumping to my death.
The last time I tried to kill myself was in March 2017. I wish I could say I’ll never try it again. I have no idea if I will. I’m broken. A part of me is always going to remain broken. I’m on anti-depressants now that seem to be working well for me, but I can’t deny that I still fantasise about suicide. It no longer occupies my every waking thought, but once in a while, my brain will repeat, almost automatically: I wish I were dead.
I sometimes wonder if my life would have been different if my late fiancé had never died. Nico was the love story of my life. When he loved me I didn’t feel like I deserved to die. He made me want to live because I think, for the first time in my life, I actually felt happy and hopeful about the future. I felt like I wanted to feel that sense of belonging. Feeling emotions wasn’t too much for me because the emotions made me feel good. When Nico died in a car accident, a part of me died with him. I spent the years after his death obsessed with dying so that I could be with him again.
Then I met someone else and got pregnant. For the second time in my life, I felt a deep desire to live for someone else. I felt a sense of joy that was tied to a future that I could see, a palpable happiness that I could almost taste. I found out that it was a boy and I named him while I was pregnant with him: Aditya, the sun. But it wasn’t to be. At five months, I miscarried, and almost died myself. Aditya wasn’t meant to be, well-meaning friends told me. I’d have another child, they promised. I remember dully thinking that I didn’t want another child, I wanted Aditya. But life hadn’t worked out that way.
In the year after losing Aditya, I tried to kill myself a grand total of six times. Life was pain and I wanted the pain to go away. I barely lived that year; I existed from one horrendous moment to the next, the sheer enormity of the present moment eclipsing everything for me. I found no comfort in anything. The world merely existed to remind me of the loss of my beloved child. Watching other mothers with their children would render me catatonic with grief. I longed to be with my baby, and I couldn’t; I reasoned that death was preferable to the pathetic existence that I was eking out on a day to day basis.
That’s the reason a lot of suicidal people attempt to kill themselves. They can no longer deal with the very visceral pain that they are feeling on a day to day basis. In fact, there are some things about suicide that you ought to know.
Suicide is not selfish
Suicide can seem selfish. It can seem self-centred and thoughtless, an attack on the people who are left behind. But in reality, people who attempt suicide honestly believe that they are making the lives of the people they leave behind easier. Although at times the people I loved the most – my mother, grandparents, friends, significant other, sister, and even my cats and dogs – were the reason I hung on, I often convinced myself that my family was better off without me in their lives. I was so ill that I began to feel like I was a burden to those I loved the most, and I wanted to stop being a burden.
Suicide is not cowardly
I’ve heard the saying that suicide is a coward’s way out, and it has always surprised me. Not to glorify suicide, but it’s an incredibly brave thing to do. There’s nothing weak or cowardly about it. It’s an act of desperation that is born out of pain and hopelessness. This is especially true when suicide occurs in cases where it’s a result of mental illness. There is nothing weak or cowardly about it.
Suicide is not attention-seeking
This is a dangerous path to wander down. People who attempt suicide are not attention-seeking in any form or fashion. Suicidal ideation is not born out of a desire to manipulate others for attention. Of the many times that I have attempted suicide, I clearly needed extra help, but I wasn’t seeking attention. I just didn’t want to live.
You CAN help
Don Ritchie lived across the street from Australia’s most notorious suicide spot, a rocky cliff at the entrance to Sydney Harbour called The Gap. For over 50 years, he shepherded countless people away from the edge of the cliff and back to life. Simply by offering a smile and a cup of tea, Ritchie saved more than five hundred people from committing suicide. Most people who are suicidal just want the pain to end and can’t think of a way to end it other than ending their lives. You can save someone’s life by offering them compassion and a way back into the world.
Suicidal people deserve your love and attention, even though it can seem like hard work to love someone through their pain. Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. If my family and friends had given up on me, I wouldn’t be alive to write this piece today. Please don’t give up on the suicidal people in your life. Just remind them that they are loved and worthy, and that nobody else can play their part.