Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

i guess in light of a recent suicide in my community i’m looking at an issue near to my heart and life. suicide.  in the “against medical advice” blogg the author shared an all to common experience of people who’ve woken up in the ER after an incompleted suicide, http://agmedad.wordpress.com/2008/04/10/incompleters/#comment-6509

this is the response i wrote…i need to write about this because i really can’t talk with anyone around here. it would be to “self-absorbed” for me to become introspective…what i have to share couldn’t possibly help anyone i know. but i’ve been there and who can better tell you about the moon…the astronaut who walked on the moon or the man looking through a telescope.

funny how people react to suicide. we recently lost a member of our community to suicide. it’s been hard for me to be around everyone as they “mourn” and deal with the shock and all of the “what could we have dones…”. i’m a suicide survivor. my last go ’round was the most grave and was unknown to others for over a year. i never attempted to get attention except everyone seems to think that a “failed” attempt is an attention getting “gesture”. NOT! it was very personal and after my last attempt i shut down completely…not eating, not talking…just staring…i lay on my sofa for months and prayed for god to just let me stop breathing. i always hear from people around me that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. but my problem has been around my whole life. i began suicide attempts when i was a very young child. i’m sure there are several of us that did, but no one recognized eating poisons as a toddler as being anything other than the result of a lack of supervision or accidental. for me it was painfully intentional. in the process of being punished when i was about 5 my father told me what “dead” was. i knew that eating deadly nightshade berries would “make me dead”…so i did…often. and i never stopped trying. my last attempt was in june of ’05 and i’m almost 45. this was no temporary problem.
i have had numerous horrible experiences in the ERs over the years. believe me…i really didn’t want to wake up there either. but their cruel words went to the sticking place and echoed in an already angst ridden mind. this anger that the medical community and even mental health community has regarding suicide is more damaging to a suicidal person. in an ER they only see you that night and they have NO information about what brought you there. the suicide itself is only a small part of a much larger picture. and granted i know of people who threaten and gesture suicide as a manipulation and as a means of getting attention. it is those people who’ve given the rest of us a bad rap. they do not mean business. it’s non the less serious as even manipulative gestures can result in death. but all the more reason to treat anyone who is suicidal with compassion and concern. i know suicide is scary to face for all involved parties and i know there is a concern that giving too much attention to a suicide attempt may reinforce the attention seeking aspect for some patients…but that is not true for all of us.
perhaps if people were more willing to address my suicides (they were not attempts…parts of me died each time) as a serious issue i might have been able to come back…i am still not well in that area of my life. i think i might romance death until i pass over. i don’t feel suicidal now but i have to admit that i always romance the thought. i hold it private to me because i’m all to aware of the cold and stony hearts that turn on you when people know. i stay away from people sometimes just because of the “me and them” in this whole area…it does drive much of my life all the time. it never goes away. it’s like a homesickness of sorts. and while i do deal with life problems often in very healthy ways and i live life with seemingly more joy than some…it’s always there. i do treasure life and maybe i value the good times so much more because i know that they are gifts i shouldn’t be experiencing. i don’t wallow in self pity…i’m not a glum, depressive, brooding or self-absorbed person as many would identify a suicidal person to be. having a second chance is something i am grateful for. but i wish i didn’t feel such an outsider as this ER doctor would wish us to feel.
the pain is real. the pain is often a life long experience and there are suicides that aren’t for attention or solving a temporary problem. maybe it’s simply wanting put an end to having to try just to damn hard to live. and docs like this…they don’t help those who deal with sucidality as a lifelong issue. i stopped trying so hard to live. my attitude of “i don’t care” is often brutal and destroys most ambitions that dare to peak my interest. while i have “bursts” of ambition and hope…i honestly live my life at 10% most of the time. i can’t seem to die but i can’t live well either. i don’t see the point in trying to die anymore as i believe this decision has to be god’s. reading and hearing things like this article are sad. but i’m glad you’re posting this and i’m glad people are seeing and discussing this prevailing attitude because it is deadly.
thank you for the post.
this is an exerpt from an article about suicidal children:
Many people have thought that the main reason that children and adolescents try to kill themselves is to manipulate others or get attention or as a “cry for help”. However, when children and adolescents are actually asked right after their suicide attempts, their reasons for trying suicide are more like adults. For a third, their main reason for trying to kill themselves is they wanted to die. Another third wanted to escape from a hopeless situation or a horrible state of mind. Only about 10% were trying to get attention. Only 2% saw getting help as the chief reason for trying suicide. The children who truly wanted to die were more depressed, more angry, and were more perfectionistic. read more: http://www.healthyplace.com/communities/depression/children_9.asp

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     (input 3/23/08 start) jump back a bit. around ’97, the year i was introduced to my wonderful psychiatrist and psychologist…and they really were wonderful…they did help me make some wonderful changes in my life. i was diagnosed borderline personality disorder, bipolar, ADHD, PTSD.  i was put on, taken off, and swapped around on several medications including ritalin. i landed on a regime of neurontin, wellbutrin and klonopin (lamictal was added in about ’05). i pretty much stayed on those for about five years. some others may have been thrown and removed over the years, but my memory on that is not so great. but looking back now, on my suicidal behavior…


     i had my first attempt when i was 23, (’85). i was put in mental health facility for about 6 weeks.  i continued with suicidal ideation, but alcohol was my slow means of getting there and i didn’t have another attempt until i got sober in ’97 and started taking the meds. from ’97 until now (early ’08) i have had over 6 attempts that landed me on life support and admitted to the behavior health units.my last attempt, june, ’05,  was very well planned…i can’t believe i’m still here, (i didn’t feel like i was here for a long time and perhaps that was the 60mgs of klonopin i chased with alcohol and other things) and sometimes i still curse god for leaving me here. but…well i usually “bounced” after each attempt. always, in a day or two, every time, i was back and running as if nothing happened. i wouldn’t discuss what had happened. to everyone that did know….each attempt was just treated as a hiccup….just as i liked it never happened. i never liked getting attention for anything other than my accomplishments. i always tried to compartmentalize my mental health issues. the source of these suicide attempts eluded me and i felt that they struck me like a hit and run…no exact cause and no consequence. being suicidal…it just was a part of  “how i was”. it really felt that way, and no one ever reviewed this with me…not really.




     but, my first consequence came down on me (sept. ’03) when i’d been admitted to the emergency room of one of my hospitals that i’d been admitted to at least twice before. i think they were implementing a three strikes policy. at about midnight, a hospital psychologist and a lawyer entered my room with a nurse and some orderlies. they were drawing up the documents to commit me! “but wait, i want to call my psychologist and my lawyer….i will voluntarily go to marietta memorial.” it was conveniently timed (midnight) so that i couldn’t reach my own lawyer or psychologist. i was forced to sign away my freedom with out recourse and…committed. next, i remember laying in the back of a squad car, one cop driving and speeding about 100 mph down the highway for what felt like…oh i didn’t know where we were or where we were going. god i was in the middle of west virginia, laying in the back of a cop car with just one male cop driving me…the mental patient. i felt so vulnerable, violated and scared. this cop could pull over and do anything he wanted. at this time of night, in the middle of WV…he could do whatever he wanted with me and it would be the word of a “deeply disturbed” person against one WV’s finest. god, i’d heard stories like this, but it was happening to me…or was it…this is unreal.


     a week before, i had been a counselor in training, working with the criminally insane in a maximum security facility in CA. now, i was headed to be a civil commitment case myself. it was humbling. upon arriving (safely, thank god), i was handed stuff to go and wash the lice off of me….LICE! god,  i was not someone who would have lice….didn’t they know who i was…what i do?  but, alas here i was in the WV state mental hospital. how did this happen? another hit and run kind of thing, because i was fine…really. if they would let me go i would get right back to work on my graduate courses and not miss a beat as i’d so gracefully done before. but no one would budge and it was one of those experiences…i thought they wanted to “scare me straight”! but this meant nothing to the hit and run driver of my suicidal tendencies. there was no action or language for reasoning or dealing. it was just one of those things…but it happened. (alcohol and PMS were involved every time.) i stayed for two weeks and it was a typical state institution experience….but of course i counseled and uplifted as many a patient as i could. after all i was in the midst of my counseling intern hours…this was a great place to work on my skills. it’s not as if i was going to step on any one’s shoes doing this….yeah, like the place was crawling with docs and therapists to really help any one of these poor “frequent flier” lost souls i was surrounded by. but…i was one too. certainly this was some cosmic joke. i couldn’t see why i had to be in “that place”. a looney bin in the middle of west-by-god?! well, i don’t really remember too much of how that wound down.


     i do remember a year before, the morning after i returned from another visit to the behavioral health floor for the “suicidal hit-and-run girl”, the phone rang at 7am. it was my best friend and she said, “i have cancer.” my first response was “no way!” well, our conversations were never about something like cancer, so i only had a few responses in my repertoire. she didn’t seem upset and i guess at that point she didn’t know how seriousit was. but this is the twist…here i was wanting to die and the whole while, my best friend was fight for her life. how self-centered am i! she was a sponsee i’d “adopted” from the local recovery center and when she was diagnosed with the cancer,  her husband took off, and she had just moved here. she hardly knew anyone except me. and we…we knew about drinking and addictions and mental illness….but…cancer? well another story for another time. but she lost her battle to cancer around march of ’04. she is with me always and some days i still have the impulse to go to the phone and call her…it’s just still second nature. i’m glad she moved on from all of her pain and is perfectly perfect now. but i loved be perfectly imperfect with her and i really really miss her. (input 3/23/08, end) please forgive my editorial skills. i’m a designer and they always kept and editor one foot behind me at all times!

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