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
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 was written as a tribute to the author’s cousin who commit suicide in early March.
What was your relationship to the individual who took their life?
I remember everything about the day that it happened: Waking up, checking my phone, calling my sister, crying on and off the whole day, leaving work early, the empty numb feeling, hiding in my bed beneath the covers, talking with my brothers, and telling my husband.
I remember my sister telling me through her tears that my cousin had taken his life and that our mom was driving over to be with her sister.
How has their loss changed your perspective on mental/emotional health and suicide?
I’ve always known mental and emotional health and suicide exist. I’ve fought my own battles with depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, disordered eating and sleeping, self harm, and suicidal thoughts. But I was always able to push through, fight my demons, and move on. So, I think losing my cousin really reminded me that not everyone can keep fighting, and not everyone wants to keep fighting. Sometimes, their demons are too overwhelming, and they don’t want to face them anymore.
I think it also makes me more consciously aware that, even if I can’t save their life, I can make their last moments on earth bright and warm and full of laughter – something worth living for. And something I can look back on should they still choose to end their life.
Finally, I don’t want to be afraid of talking about mental and emotional health and suicide. I want to have an open conversation about it.
What unanswered questions do you still have about the incident?
As I have thought about my cousin’s death over the last couple of months, I can’t say that I’ve really had any questions. I can understand why he or anyone would take their own life. Imagine life feeling out of control, being in the darkest, deepest pit, living without hope, afraid, tired of being a burden to others, and exhausted from fighting day in and day out to stay alive. I can see the appeal.
But the one question that does come to my mind is – Why him? Why not me? Why not someone else? What made his mental health journey come to an end while mine and other’s keep going? This question is different from, “Why did he do it?” Like I said above, I can empathize with that reasoning. I just don’t understand what makes someone flip the switch from “I will fight this! to “I can’t do this anymore…”
How have you come to terms with the negative emotions, for example: guilt, shame, loneliness, and hopelessness, surrounding their death?
I don’t think the negative emotions ever 100% go away. I think we choose to move beyond them. For me, honoring his memory with a tattoo, finding a painting for my aunt that portrays her son in the arms of the Savior, this blog series project, and reminiscing over all of the memories I have of him makes it easier to move on.
Where have you found comfort and healing following this loss?
One of the biggest comforts has been my tattoo. I began planning it the day I found out about my cousin’s death. It gives me something to remember him by. And it also serves as a conversation starter. The more we as a society can be open and honest about suicide and mental and emotional health diseases; the more we can heal from them.
The other major comfort is my belief that life is eternal – that there is life after death. And more specifically, that families can be together after death and forever. This understanding brings me hope that my cousin is not alone. He is surrounded by loved ones who died before him. And someday, I will be able to see him again too.
What would you say to someone who is struggling with suicidal thoughts and ideations?
You are not alone. These thoughts are not unique to you and you alone. Thousands of individuals have had and do experience suicidal thoughts. Tell me about your thoughts and let me help you to find a reason to live – to stay one day more with me and with those who love you.
What would you say to someone who has just lost a loved one to suicide?
I’m sorry. I know how hard this is. You are not the one to blame. They loved you and still do love you. I know that they are finally at peace. They are not alone. They are surrounded by family and friends who have died before them. I know that they are rooting for you, and want you to make the best out of your life.
Don’t forget the memory of their life. Think about them often – all of the good, bad, funny, terrible 2’s, angsty teens, and bad hair day memories you can. Learn from their mistakes and celebrate their successes. And use their story to help others. You have been blessed with a gift. Don’t let it go to waste.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute.
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.