Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I wanted to say something about this because it’s important, and people need to know that there is no shame in having these thoughts or in seeking help. But on the other hand, it almost seems like a foreign topic to me. It feels like a forgotten language or past life with which I can no longer connect.

For the longest time, suicide was my biggest fear. I was afraid that one day I would not be strong enough to hold back the urges, and I would lose my fight with suicide and chronic depression. Suicide was the single most constant in my life. For as long as I can remember, I wanted to die. It is the subject of many of my earliest memories. And I don’t know why.

But now that I am on an antidepressant that inhibits depression and suicidal thoughts, they come much more rarely and even then, as fleeting moments that last no more than a breeze of wind passing by. Suicide is no longer a constant in my life. Part of that is due to therapy. Another part is due to friends and loved ones. The last part is due to antidepressants and personal choices to take care of myself.

Each part has taken years to build to get me to this point. And I guess the point of all this is that it is possible. It is possible to go from years, even decades, of suicidal thoughts to it being little more than a memory. I don’t know how it happens. For me, it was a million little things that led up to this point. It was friends and family and therapists and counselors and medications that drove me past of the point of insanity to medicine that changed my thoughts in ways I never knew were possible.

As someone that once contemplated suicide on a daily to hourly basis, I just want you to know there is hope. There is hope that it won’t always be this way. It may not feel like it now, but things really can get better. You just have to make it through this. And please know you don’t have to be alone. You don’t have to do this alone. It is never too late to reach out and get the help you need to feel better.

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Shame

World Suicide Prevention Day was started on September 10, 2003. Two years after 9/11/2001. To recognize suicide the day before we recognize that tragedy can’t be an accident.

I read this post today about shame. It says that the difference between guilt and shame is where we put our feelings. Guilt tells us that what we did was wrong. Shame tells us that we are the problem. In the post, the soldier talks about the shame he felt after his brother died in one of the twin towers. He wondered or regretted why he lived when his brother or fellow soldiers had died.

I don’t know very many people who have died, but I can say that I know that shame. I know what it’s like to wonder why you’re alive when you don’t deserve to be. I know what it is like to feel that I am a problem. I know what it is like to question the purpose of my existence when I see the darkness of the world.

Today is September 11th. It is a day of remembrance. But please as you are remembering, don’t feel shame. I know it is easy to say and harder to do, but you are better than you think. Yes, good people died on this day and the following days 14 years ago, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have lived.

The merits of the lost and fallen do not discount or displace your worth. You are alive for a reason. I am alive for a reason. We may not know what the reason is yet, but for now I hope you can just trust that there is a reason. And I will do the same.