I thought of suicide for the first time when I was 19 years-old. I was a Senior in college, but something happened to me that my community would harshly judge.
I fell in a deep dark hole of shame, guilt, and despair.
I already know everything they would say. I knew because I thought it before I started falling.
I knew because I know them. I was taught to think like them.
I was utterly alone.
Alone in a hallway with so many doors and when I approached to open it, it said, “Don’t Exit.” I thought, “I’m not exiting I’m entering,” but the sign changed in neon flashing lights and said, “Don’t Enter.”
I fell on the ground.
The only door I can now see says, “suicide.”
I started planning how to open that door. Once the door is opened, it’s over. No cry for help, nothing like that. My mind was working so hard through my tears. Looking at scenario after scenario. I worked on top of a mountain for a church summer camp. I was one of the camp counselors. The zigzagging roads up the mountain looked so precarious, I always thought if someone accidentally drove off the cliff, that person would die for real.
That was it! That is how I will die. It will be complete. Accidental. No one would suspect suicide. It can’t be suicide because that was an unpardonable sin.
As I played the scene out in my head, I saw a car wrecked with my… Uh oh. That was a lose end. My mom lovingly lent me her car so I can drive up to my job and if I die in it, she will no longer have a car.
That was more than 20 years ago.
I am still alive.
Suicide is NEVER the answer.
There were two other times I planned a suicide.
The second one was stopped by the thought of putting my affairs in order and making sure everyone I loved would be okay even if I was gone.
The third one was stopped because I couldn’t find any means to complete it.
I realized if I had killed myself last night I would have missed my friend telling me, “I have such a beautiful smile.” That day my school got a huge box of office supply from all the departments, staff, and faculty and chose me as the winner. I wouldn’t have won that box!
It was the simple things, I would have missed.
I have been in therapy now for all this time.
It was a long process. I’ve lost other colleagues and family to suicide since then. Each one seems to have utilized the means and plan I had in two of them. No one I know ever committed suicide by driving off the cliff like the first one I planned. These suicides are people I knew but not intimately. They were in that same community.
Their reasons all similar. Escape the pain they are in right now, the loss, or the shame.
Death does not stop the pain.
Death is merely a continuation at another level. I know I thought of suicide as a quick route to oblivion, an escape. I learned later on that it is FAR FROM IT. Death merely alters a person from one form to another. Nothing can destroy the spirit. Suicide only precipitates a darker continuation of the same condition from which escape was sought. A continuation under circumstances so much more painful.
The community I grew up in did not teach this. I learned this from Richard Matheson’s, “What Dreams May Come.” It was reiterated by other supervising psychologists and my own psychologist.
It was a long, painful, repetitive process. I still feel the pain now when I get triggered, when I’m stressed, when something awful happens, but I carry on.
I no longer believe suicide is the answer.
I’m still here.
I belong here.
I am worthy.
So are you.
You are worthy.