This story is part of a blog series called, “Your Story: a conversation on mental and emotional health and disabilities.” Please read with a heart open and understanding – free of judgement.
Suicide warning signs or suicidal thoughts include:
- Talking about suicide — for example, making statements such as “I’m going to kill myself,” “I wish I were dead” or “I wish I hadn’t been born”
- Getting the means to take your own life, such as buying a gun or stockpiling pills
- Withdrawing from social contact and wanting to be left alone
- Having mood swings, such as being emotionally high one day and deeply discouraged the next
- Being preoccupied with death, dying or violence
- Feeling trapped or hopeless about a situation
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Changing normal routine, including eating or sleeping patterns
- Doing risky or self-destructive things, such as using drugs or driving recklessly
- Giving away belongings or getting affairs in order when there’s no other logical explanation for doing this
- Saying goodbye to people as if they won’t be seen again
- Developing personality changes or being severely anxious or agitated, particularly when experiencing some of the warning signs listed above
Warning signs aren’t always obvious, and they may vary from person to person. Some people make their intentions clear, while others keep suicidal thoughts and feelings secret.
If you are experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, please seek help immediately!
If you are safe, talk to someone you trust and tell them what you are experiencing and share with them your plan; Contact a mental health professional about your thoughts, feelings, and plan; or Call the Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255).
If you feel out of control or like you may hurt yourself, make your way to the nearest hospital emergency room and tell them your plan. Your life matters, and there are people out there who love and care about you. Please don’t give up.
Please be aware that, in this story, you will read about losing a loved one to suicide. If this affects you in any way please stop reading, talk with a someone you trust, or contact a mental health professional immediately. You may also call the Suicide Hotline 800-273-TALK (8255).
A Note On Editing
Minor changes were made to help make the interview easier to read.
This story comes from a woman who shared her experience losing a loved one to suicide while serving an 18 month proselytizing mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The individual was someone she taught and who had accepted the invitation to be baptized. These are her words:
How has their loss changed your perspective on mental/emotional health and suicide?
You seriously never know what is going on in someone’s head, and what challenges others are facing. The kindest people, who seem very content and happy, are sometimes the ones that get ignored and have their feelings overlooked. Sometimes, they are unable to express their thoughts and feelings because they are always busy helping others with their challenges. They are always making everyone else happy when they, themselves, are not okay.
What unanswered questions do you still have about the incident?
- Why did he do it?
- Was he struggling for a long time and didn’t tell anyone?
- Did he think everyone would be happier without him?
How have you come to terms with the negative emotions, for example: guilt, shame, loneliness, and hopelessness, surrounding their death?
A lot of my hope in the situation came from my beliefs. I believe that there is mercy, and he will be judged fairly. I believe that only he and Heavenly Father truly know what was going on in his head. And, I know that I will get to see him again.
Where have you found comfort and healing following this loss?
Through Prayer and reading the Book of Mormon.
What would you say to someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts and ideations?
I think the most important thing is to ask them questions that don’t make them feel worthless and to ask them questions about their plan. It’s important to reassure them that you want them here, and one way to do that is to allow them to talk to you. Including them and making them feel loved is also necessary. It’s hard, but making sure that they know they are valued and loved is vital.
What would you say to someone who has just lost a loved one to suicide?
I think that it’s important to acknowledge how they feel and to try to let them know you love them. Make sure they know that if they need to talk that you are there to listen. Never pressure them to talk about it or tell them you know what they are going through. No one knows the same way they do.
Thank you for opening your heart to share this experience.
Moving on after suicide
It can be exceptionally difficult to know how to talk about the death of someone you love and even more so when the individual took their own life. Please know that you are not alone in your feelings of grief, anger, and confusion. It is important to talk about their death in a healthy and uplifting way. The best way to do this is to talk to a professional mental health counselor. You can also talk to a trusted spiritual leader. And it is important that you continue to talk to friends and family members as you seek for comfort and healing.
These individuals made a choice – a choice that ended their life on this earth. This single choice does not and never will define them. Let us remember those that have taken their lives by suicide for all of the good that they have added to this world. Think fondly on the memories you have of them and share them often with others. And let us celebrate the life they lived rather than condemn them for the way they died.
Continuing The Conversation
You are invited to continue the conversation on mental and emotional health and suicide in the comments below. Use this as a place to share memories of the people you have lost to suicide. Please be loving, reverent, and respectful of all comments shared. DO NOT ask for or share details about how an individual died. Comments are being moderated and will be deleted if they are hurtful, hateful, or inappropriate in any way.
A Note For Readers
If reading this story has inspired you to share your own story, please click here to be taken to the introductory post where you will learn where the inspiration for this blog series came from as well as how to participate.