What do I do when suicide thoughts surface? I mean no one sees them, hears them, or feels them but me. Just because I have not acted on it, and you still see me daily doesn’t mean I don’t think about it. Suicide is subtle. It can creep on you when least expected. If you have not experienced suicidal thoughts, you will only understand the one hurting and in pain, in part. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention:
–suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US
–44,193 Americans die yearly from suicide
–25 people attempt suicide daily
–the U.S. pays $44 billion annually
–121 people on average die daily
–the median age for suicide is 13
My childhood was good. I grew up with a silver spoon in my mouth. Yup. Even had an ice cream scooper. (Not too long ago, a former friend teased me and said, “not everyone grew up like you with an ice cream scooper)! Her comment, of course, had defenses and included many past issues that had nothing to do with me. I now realize I was loved as a child, and not spoiled. But, the delusional thoughts of suicide constrained me to think otherwise. Suicide will produce ideas no one cares, this is too much to deal with, who loves you–no one, I can’t take this anymore, life is too much to handle, perhaps they’ll like me more when I’m gone, or they’ll notice me more when I’m not here.
Interestingly, the one in pain believes these internal thoughts and conversations more than the outward verbals from loved ones. Yes. Thoughts of taking a life include talks. Dialogue occurs within. It’s a back and forth similar to the “devil” on one shoulder and an “angel” on the other, and you’re stuck in the middle. The one in pain undergoes much turmoil, especially alone–in the dark. I used to sit in the dark and play sad songs. Songs with themes of loss of love were a safe place for solace and comfort. While home alone, I’d blast these songs, turn off all the lights, close the blinds and curtains, and sit in a corner and weep for hours. I tried reaching out to various ones to talk. I wrote letters seeking for attention and love. No one had “time” for little me. So, for each attempt, I’d get a 16 0z glass fill it 1/4 orange juice and 3/4 vodka, gulp it down quickly and cut my wrists with a knife.
During this time, I had a mentor. I remember how she earned my trust to talk about my internalizations. She moved at my pace per se with gentle nudges along the way. She accepted my means of conversation through letters. We wrote back and forth weekly. In exchange for each letter, I wrote from places of pains, offenses, and displacement, she responded with words of affirmation, scriptures that ministered to each wound and most importantly God’s love. She was a perfect picture of patience and endurance. She did not give up on me. She held my hand the entire way. God will show up to you in the capacities you need Him. I saw God through her. I heard God speak through her writings. I accepted his words through her writings. God knew that was not the time for me to have only a Bible in view. God will meet you where you are. I called her at my last attempt to cut the area where my vein pulsated and showed a readiness to penetrate. There were no cell phones during this time. Remember, I am also under the influence. When I called sobbing on the phone as the blood traveled down my hand, I was aware enough to hear her say, “Hold on! I am coming to you NOW!” She arrived 15 mins later–somehow the door unlocked–had to be an angel because she came to me while I sat crying and bleeding profusely. At that moment, she held me, prayed and anointed my wrists with frankincense and myrrh. The scent of the essential oil rushed through me, and I felt a tingling within my being for sobering.
Years later, there are moments when the thoughts try to surface. I now talk about and expose them. I also reflect on how God still wants me around for his will and purpose. Furthermore, it is important not to internalize offenses and or hurts. The only way not to is to communicate. Tell people how you feel. When you internalize three things happen, (1) they can turn into ruptures that spill into your relationships, (2) they can make you numb and cold towards people who genuinely love you, and (3) they can initiate depression that leads to suicidal thoughts.
To the loved ones, partners, confidants or mentors, here are ten suggestions to use for the one with suicidal thoughts.
1. Be an open vessel for efficient usage
2. Be the friend that is closer than a brother
3. Do not force the Bible on the person
4. Be available when and as needed
5. Listen for words not spoken
6. Pay close attention to ALL behaviors
7. Move at his or her pace for opening up / communication
8. Be gentle and show love
9. Be sensitive and aware of his or her needs
10. Move at a balanced pace that doesn’t overload you