Why Suicide Prevention Month is Difficult as a Suicide Attempt Survivor

I feel I must begin by stating I am not currently suicidal.

But, the constant bombardment of suicide chatter all month threatens to push me over the edge.

Please don’t get me wrong — I find it wonderful the powers that be on social media have chosen a month to focus on suicide awareness. There is so much stigma surrounding mental illness, every dialogue is a blessing. However, this month is extremely hard for me. I have stood on that proverbial ledge and contemplated jumping. This month is a steady reminder of how close I came to ending my life. Each new post or tweet renews those feelings, each time I speak up, I tear open old wounds.

When Suicide Prevention Month hits, I find myself confronted with the topic of suicide from all angles, inside and out. Much like being surrounded by the sights and smells of delicious foods makes you hungry, the steady barrage of posts about suicide brings my consciousness right back to that deep, dark place I struggle to avoid at all costs. My mind is already inundated with thoughts of suicidal ideation, that little demon that tries to lure me in with abstract ideals. That imp swears that death would be freeing, drifting away into peaceful nothingness away from all the pain. I already struggle to push those thoughts away, choosing to continue my struggles rather than surrender to that beast. Yet during September, I not only have to battle my own mind, but external sources as well.

I know I’m in the unique situation to give insight into suicide because I have attempted it myself. I try to reach out and speak up when I am able because I understand how important it is to talk about, but it is draining beyond explanation. Imagine taking your worst days, your biggest traumas, and rehashing them again and again for a month. Imagine spending a month seeing those around you tweeting and retweeting about that pain, encouraging you to talk about it again and again. My own mind already haunts me, tormenting me regularly with the traumas of my past. On top of that, I am now bombarded with well-meaning people who want to discuss suicide. Many truly do not understand mental illness so they cannot comprehend how hard that conversation is for me to have once, let alone repeatedly over the course of the month.

I imagine things aren’t any easier for those who have lost someone to suicide. Hearing the topic discussed for weeks must tear open the wounds and begin a month of steady mourning. I see them, too, trying to speak up about their experiences and their loss. Grieving is hard enough to do on your own terms without having to do it publicly again and again. My heart always goes out to them.

I try to stay strong, to remain positive, to not let it eat at me, but that little demon already has ideation playing in my mind on a loop. It doesn’t take much for suicidal thoughts themselves to start digging their way into my psyche, as well. Each story shared by others is heart-wrenchingly relatable, and each time I speak up, it’s beyond devastating. As much as I want to get involved, to speak out and help others, I know my limits and cannot share as much as others may prefer or believe that I should. I know the upcoming battles others face because I’ve fought them all before. As much as I know this month is beneficial for so many, it is pure torture for me. I spend the month feeling raw and glaringly alone.

Please be patient with the survivors of suicide, whether we kept living after attempts, or have survived the loss of people we loved. Talk to us and make sure we’re OK. Keep us in your hearts, thoughts and prayers. Speak up when we cannot. This isn’t a battle just for the survivors of suicide. It is important that everyone keeps living and keeps fighting so together we can make the world a better place. Even one more life lost because someone feels worthless and alone is one life too many.

By B.L. Acker at themighty.com

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255

Image via Thinkstock

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