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‘I never really understood what it means to want to die’

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I asked Jack Gorman to consider writing a post after I noticed a comment he left a few weeks ago identifying himself as a former psychiatrist who had treated many suicidal patients. “One of the many things I learned is that I never knew what it was like to be suicidal until it happened to me,” he wrote. “No clinician can possibly know exactly what that depth of hopelessness is like.”

Gorman came across this site while doing volunteer work with a suicide prevention organization in New York, where he lives. “I decided to share my story because my recovery involves trying to make amends for the many errors I made, and this includes being open to telling what I did, if it can be helpful to another person,” he wrote in an e-mail. “It is not, of course, easy for me and I am wary of the consequences of being public, but I think it is the right thing to do.”

When I was a psychiatrist, I was terrified that a patient might commit suicide. Of course I cared about my patients and, like any feeling person, wanted them to be happy and enjoy life. But for a psychiatrist, a patient’s suicide is seen as a monumental and sometimes career-deflating disaster. I always remembered the boast of a famous professor of psychiatry who taught us during residency: “No patient of mine has ever committed suicide.” We were led to believe that if a patient committed suicide, the psychiatrist was entirely to blame; suicides happened only to incompetent psychiatrists.

Of course, most people who commit suicide suffer from severe depression, and depression is widely recognized as a potentially fatal illness. Cardiologists and oncologists treat very sick people and expect that many of them will die of their illnesses. The death of a patient from a heart attack or cancer does not automatically mean that the doctor messed up. Psychiatrists, however, generally do not see things that way.

I thought I understood what a patient with suicidal thoughts was feeling. I now understand that my ideas were clouded by professional fear and anger. I was afraid the patient might really go through with it and ruin my career, angry at myself for not being a better psychiatrist and angry at the patient for putting me through the ordeal of trying to stop him or her from making an attempt.

And then, after a lifetime of severe depression and alcoholism, I got the idea that it would be best if I committed suicide. I didn’t have a psychiatrist of my own at the time. No one, in fact, knew how miserably unhappy and hopeless I had become. The only thing that gave me a glimmer of relief from the incessant, crushing feelings of despair, worthlessness, self-hatred and guilt was the idea that I had it in my power to put an end to all of it. Furthermore, I convinced myself that doing so would be a blessing for my wife, my children and everyone else who had the misfortune, as I saw it, of knowing me. I did not think my problem was depression or drinking too much alcohol. I firmly believed my problem was that I was a terrible, useless human being. I was certain beyond any doubt that killing myself was the absolutely right thing to do. I used all of my expert knowledge about psychopharmacology to design what should have been a lethal overdose. It was not a “cry for help” or a “gesture.” What I did was designed to be fatal.

By a series of coincidences and detective work on the part of my wife and some friends, I was found, intubated and rushed to the hospital in an unconscious state. The doctors in the intensive care unit told my wife it was likely I would not survive. My electrocardiogram looked like random squiggles, and I had multiple seizures. The hospital asked to see my advance directives and living will.

But miraculously, I woke up after almost a week. I was furious at first. I felt like a failure — how is it that I screwed up killing myself, I thought. It was not a welcome message to my family, friends, doctors or nurses who had just spent a week slaving and worrying over my body, attempting and praying to save my life.

My recovery was very slow, and I was not always a cooperative patient. But it was clear to me that, in fact, killing myself was not doing my wife or daughters a favor. They would have been devastated. So I made three promises to them: not try to kill myself again, see a psychiatrist and take steps to stop drinking. Today, seven years later, I am happier than I have ever been. I have had no episodes of serious depression, despite having thoroughly destroyed my career. I have a terrific psychiatrist, and I am a grateful recovering alcoholic.

But I also now realize that I never really understood what it means to want to die. In making this statement, I fully recognize that I can only say that I truly understand how it felt for me to want to die. But to the extent that my own experience was consistent with that of other suicide survivors, I now have several insights into that awful state of mind.

First, it was absolute. There was no sense that I might have been even 10 percent wrong in my assessment of myself. Second, it was accompanied by a fierce moral fervor. As bad as I knew I was at that moment, I was convinced that from any possible ethical standpoint committing suicide was the proper thing to do. I happen to be a conventionally religious person, and suicide is not permitted by my religion. Yet I believed without the slightest doubt right before my suicide attempt that killing myself was even what God wanted me to do. Finally, my thoughts were well organized, unrelenting and clear. I did not feel confused about my self-assessment or about the solution — everything seemed perfectly logical and sensible.

I believe these observations are important because they contradict in some ways what I thought was the case when I was treating people who I thought might be suicidal. I cringe now at some of the formulaic things I said to try to dissuade them. I believed in my psychiatrist role that my perspective, my logic, was superior to the patient’s, and therefore my job was to convince him or her that I was right, that suicide was a mistake. I was certain that a suicidal person must feel frightened and confused and that kindness, logic and perfect interpretations would clear up his or thinking and change his or her mind.

Perhaps if I had known what I was truly up against in dealing with a suicidal person, I would have been even more frightened.

I am not at all sure what the practical implications of my story might be for training psychiatrists to deal with suicidal patients. As I said earlier, I am very happy now that I was unsuccessful and have been helped enormously by a kind and skillful psychiatrist. So I absolutely do not want psychiatrists to accept suicide as another expected medical outcome or to stop trying to prevent it.

Indeed, I am writing this because I hope that somehow being public about my own experiences may someday help one other person get through the blackness of contemplating suicide and decide to struggle with being alive.

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39 Comments Join the Conversation

  1. Thank you. It’s a great post because nothing ever hurt me more than my doctor not believing me when I said I am planing suicide.

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    • I agree it was a great post. I did believe my doctor and team did not feel like i would commit suicide as it was just thoughts they told me. It was after 3 serious attempts that they started to listen. I still feel like that today and most days and have a hard time dealing with the depression and other stuff like pstd and pbd.

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    • Thank you so very much for this! As the mother of a son who died via suicide I applaud your candidness! As the director of a nonprofit, “Preventing Teen Tragedy” I would like to share your wisdom with colleagues. I have had some clinicians along the way who are too easy to say, “this is just a gesture” or, ” I hope I am not wrong, but my experience shows me that these people just do not follow through with these threats. While this might be true in many cases, a person cannot predict who might complete a suicide. As you said so well, the person is in a tremendous amount of pain and does not think with logic as a clinician does. they believe they are thinking clearly and that God might even be telling them that this is RIght. My son had never left us a note for any previous attempt. Smoe of his care givers told us “he had no red flags”. His was his 4th attempt. He came to them with plenty of red flags and was a man wilots of red flags (including their not returning calls!)

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story. I understand how difficult it is to ‘come out’ especially when working in a field of helping people. I’m a counsellor in mental health & have had attempted suicide nuerous times. I’ve come close to succeeding & have woken up in the ICU intubated & unsure of what went ‘wrong’. For some reason the day I was discharged from the ICU, one moment sticks out for me. I was handed a copy of my ICU discharge report to pass along to my other doctors and I remember reading the top of the page… It said ‘Date of Death or Discharge’… I realized then just how close I was to dying that time & a small part of me was glad I didn’t succeed ( sadly only in that moment though as I continued to try to kill melf for months that followed) Your insights that followed your attempt are ones that I share, as well. The absolution of my decision, the idea that my choice was a morally correct thing to do and the scariest part for me was the rational & peace i felt that came with my decision to die. In addition to your insights i had another one… The desperate need to have some control in my life. The only thing I felt I had any control of was whether I lived or died. This came when I began to feel ‘babysat’ by others, when I no longer felt trusted by anyone & when I began to lose trust in those around me… I argued with family, friends & therapists trying to make them understand that I was not meant to live a long life, it was my time to go and they needed to accept it. They all made attempts to prove me wrong but it was like trying to convince me that the sky wasn’t blue… Looking back I feel that I was truly delusional. I was lucky, I had great people around me, even though many of them really didn’t know how to handle me, talk to me, and sometimes they made me feel worse… I know now everything they did/ said only came from a place of love. My road to recovery was long, twisted and sometimes it went backward but I made it & I’m still here to talk about my experience. I know I may have more rough times ahead but today I feel good & today is the only day that matters… :)

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  3. Thank you for your story. It is an interesting and insightful story. I wonder, though, why a psychiatrist would use the words “committed suicide”. This terminology is no longer used by suicidologists and even frowned upon because it infers sin, unlawful activity, or weakness,

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  4. Thank you! No one can really understand what it’s like to be suicidal until you are suicidal.

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  5. A great big thank you to Jack for leaving his original comment that resulted in this highly informative post and to Cara for following up and asking Jack to do a post. I too had taken note of Jack’s comment on the previous post about not truly understanding what someone suicidal was experiencing in spite of all his training and not until he himself was suicidal.

    It’s such an enlightening comment and one that I’m sure many professionals could benefit from reading and hopefully truly grasp. I found it very interesting in this post that you mentioned your thoughts were clouded with professional fear and anger while you were still practicing. It’s a shame that those with this level of expertise would themselves have that very prevalent attitude that if you lost a patient to suicide, that it reflected poorly on your own professional abilities and the burden that would bring for all those practicing psychiatry or I’m sure other mental health professions as well. While I’m sure there are instances where professional ability can come into play and may be detrimental to the patient, I think it’s important to note that suicide is not always preventable regardless of treatment or therapy and it doesn’t necessarily mean the therapist was not capable enough. That is an important message as well, especially for those of us left behind who often blame ourselves for not doing enough when we often know so little about suicide until after the fact. So much truly does depend on the suicidal person unfortunately and I believe the connection between patient and therapist has a great deal to do with it as well.

    What I found so interesting was that you said your thoughts were well organized, unrelenting and clear and that there was no confusion about your self assessment or solution. This does in fact contradict what I have read that most in a suicidal state are not of sound and clear, rational mind. I still feel that it was the depressed suicidal mind in control of your thoughts but so perplexing that your own training would not identify some very classic thoughts that go hand in hand with suicidal thinking. That you wouldn’t be able to detect the “signs” per se. It shows very clearly how convincing this thinking is and how it can override all instinct to live. The common thoughts of worthlessness and hopelessness are classic signs as well and yet it felt perfectly rational to you feeling that way. I have heard from so many attempt survivors including my late husband Rob that he felt everyone would be much better off without him. I would assure him this was not the case at all and yet his mind would not/could not allow him to believe that or see it that way. I educate often that the suicidal mind does not think or work like it normally does. That they literally are taken over by the thoughts of the only solution being suicide and that they cannot see it any other way. The suicidal mind is in control, not the person we all know and love to a very great degree. Rob shared with me his thoughts after his attempts and said they were repetitive, relentless and all consuming – nothing else could be thought about, the focus being only on ending his life and the many reasons why it was the only option.

    Rob had tried numerous times to take his life and would then berate himself for having messed up even his attempts which just made him feel all the more worthless. It was surprising to me at the time not being suicidal myself that this would be his reaction, but it was and is for many. The guilt many attempt survivors feel is tremendous as well, not only for not having been “successful” at taking their life but for also putting everyone through the attempt as well. I have great empathetic ability, but no matter how hard I tried, I could not put myself in Rob’s shoes and know what it was like but I did have much compassion and sorrow to see him battling his inner demons knowing there was a very real possibility he would take his life.

    I’m so glad your wife and friends found you in time and that you received wonderful care that allowed you to survive what should have been fatal. You didn’t mention whether there was any permanent damage due to the method you used, which isn’t often talked about, but is a very real risk and concern that many who attempt don’t always consider.

    I am so thrilled that you were willing to share this most personal and intimate story to help others. I shared it on my FB page today and have had many amazing comments about how much what you shared resonated for them. This blog and all those who participate are offering so much insight that will not only give attempt survivors and those with suicidal thinking a safe place to come to, to know they’re not alone, to be able to identify with much that is shared and often put into words that they themselves may have difficulty with. It also is filled with hope that there can be a good life after suicidal thinking or an attempt and that’s a very encouraging message many need to hear.

    It is also an incredible opportunity for loss survivors to learn as well so they may better understand what their loved ones were battling with, so they can have more compassion and understanding and realize how all consuming this can be. It allows us a very brief glimpse we would otherwise not have and it was only when I realized how all consuming and overwhelming suicidal thinking was, that I was able to realize he exceeded his ability to cope in ways I couldn’t even begin to imagine. I could have no anger whatsoever for someone in that state, only compassion and sadness that anyone would be in such a desperate, hopeless turmoil and such excruciating pain. When I knew for a fact it was his suicidal mind that claimed him, it allowed me to grieve in a very different way, much more beneficial and healthy. I felt relief for Rob no longer suffering and I felt relief no longer battling to keep him alive. Sorrow mixed with relief was an odd combination of emotions, but what I experienced.

    Your story of survival is very powerful and offers much hope and encouragement to many. Thank you for sharing it.

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  6. Surrounded by loving family I really had no excuse to wish to end my life. I called it the ‘suicide tunnel’ when wracked with pain and disability caused by a hostile woman Doctor who rear ended me and left me in pain on the footpath after muttering in my hearing “this is all I need”.
    Throughout my claim, over and over it was attempted to prove I was malingering to gain a payout. No treatment was available as specialists wouldn’t touch a compensation claim (apart from psychiatry).
    My dominant right shoulder no longer functions, aparently a rare injury for a woman yet the seatbelt or whiplash cut a nerve in my neck. It is obvious looking at my back yet the last specialist I saw for the Lawyers of the insurance company said that all my weaknesses are voluntary.
    Broken in spirit I accepted half of my claim and sobbed at the time, and felt so minimised, worthless and hopeless. I called myself a ‘train wreck’.
    Maybe a year later…driving to my mothers house 50km away I found tears running down my face. The conviction that I was a ‘waste of space’ and my family would be better off without me was absolute. I have an amazing therapist who has helped me find some helpful thoughts, but, I didn’t think to kick these in at this time. The urge to drive off the road was so strong I played with the idea of death and welcomed it.
    Then I visualised my husbands face, my two sons and my daughter at my funeral. I knew that I was needed and loved.
    I stopped the car and got out. I had driven to a small town and went into a small shop in tears. The comfortable woman behind the counter asked if I was ok. I told her that I had wanted to end my life by driving the car off the road. She gently said “it’s a good thing you stopped then”.
    I was able to continue my drive, and my life to now.
    I have no fear of death, it is hard to make future plans. There are times of joy and I love my family. I have learned to talk to my husband and he has learned to listen without judgement and problem solving. I have learned to ask for what I need.
    Thank you for sharing your story. I feel less of a dill now.

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  7. On March 15th, 2011, my son with tears went via ambulance to a local hospital because he said he wanted to die. He was suffering with severe depression and was self medicating with any-ones pills he was able to buy from them. He stated he just wanted the bad thoughts and sadness to end. I know now the entire wording at the hospital from the ER doctor to the on call Psychiatrist called in less that 2 days into his stay to evaluate my suicidal son. Even though he told them both he wanted to die…There wording as listed in the medical reports I have obtained, say..I DO NOT KNOW IF I BELIEVE HE REALLY WANTS TO DIE! Less than 48 hours later, they released my child with no meds, no appointments, no follow up care. The on call psychiatrist did give him a business card, like they do whenever a new doctor enters your room at a hospital.. 12 days later, my child called that very psychiatrist and told them he was really struggling with living. They told him they had NO available openings and when they could get him in, the cost would be $175.00 for the first visit. This Doctor is the head of Psychiatry and Psychology at our local Universities. .

    My child was so distraught at once again being turned away for help, that he ended his pain with a single bullet 2 hours later.

    It was just the 2nd anniversary of my childs death and I still harvest many many angry thoughts towards these very doctors who sent my child on his way to die.

    I commend you for having the courage to share your experience with all of us. I wish now that every single Doctor, Nurse, Aide and any other person in the medical field could see this, and understand that all suicidal threats should be taken seriously.

    Maybe just maybe, they would see when someone says they want to die to take the words seriously.

    All my hopes to you my dear man. I do, so much appreciate and respect your words.
    Pamela Riley-Mother of Korey

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    • Pamela, your story breaks my heart and I am so very sorry. I sit here with tears in my eyes because I know the hell your son went through in his head that got him to the point of his decision, and I cannot begin to imagine the hell you go through as a mother. I don’t really have any consoling words, I just wanted you to know that my whole heart goes out to you.

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    • Pamela, I am so sorry that Korey was so disrespected, that his medical team did not get to know him better. I am angry that our system of “care” faulted him so. I can only offer this solace as a mother; I give you this warmth and hug across the miles. I am grief-stricken for your loss. ~ Ellen

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  8. Your post was so moving for me to read. I am a repeat suicide attempt survivor. I was so low- so hopeless, and so relieved when I figured out how to successfully complete the act. I was determined to die because it would put me out of the pain I was going through. Anything would be better than the feelings I was having. I too was angry when I woke up each time. I felt like such a failure.
    I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and have since had borderline personality disorder added. I have been helped going through DBT (dialectical behavioral therapy) and feel safer. I know how devastated my family would be should I complete the act, but I still have thoughts of how much better everyone would be without me and that I would feel better when I was dead than when I was alive.
    I volunteer at a Crisis Hotline to help others cope with suicidal thoughts. It is hard to handle the calls, and sometimes I just listen and hear the pain the caller is going through. I think when someone calls, they still have a little it of hope or they wouldn’t have made the call in the first place. I do report suicides in progress to the police to go out and help the caller. I should be feeling better about myself for having a sense of purpose, but I still have those thoughts of how much easier “life” would be without me.

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  9. Thank you for your post. Ever since my attempt, I have tried to put it into words. It made and still makes so much sense to me. I applaud you for your vulnerability. You are a pioneer in an area people are afraid to go. Thank you.

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  10. Did your suicide attempt ruin your career? I hope not. I would love to see a shrink that actually gets it.
    Thanks for writing this. So much of it rings true. Especially the bit about not being confused. Sometimes moments of clarity are far worse than feeling confused.

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  11. I want to thank all the people who posted comments about my post. I am also so happy that so many of you are survivors and very sad about the stories of loved ones who didn’t survive their suicide attempts. Although I certainly appreciate the kind words in these posts, I want to emphasize that I do not believe I am in any way unusual or exceptional–like millions of people I suffered from mental disorders that led me to make terrible choices, the ultimate one being to try to take my own life. Many people mentioned horrible experiences with mental health care providers. I do feel fortunate that I have had a very good experience with the people who took and are still taking care of me, but I also know that our mental health care system is nearly in ruins. It is true that the ability of a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker or psychiatric nurse to predict who will try to take their own life and who will not is little better than chance. Many scientists have tried to find predictors, but so far none of them hold up. Still, when a person or parent or spouse reaches out for help there often isn’t any out there. That is a national tragedy. I will also say how disturbed I am that with all the recent talk about gun control the major discussion about people with psychiatric problems is to “take guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill.” Both conservatives and liberals seem to share this view. But what is missing is the fact that two-thirds of gun deaths in the United States are suicides, not homicides and that there is very good evidence that gun control measures can reduce them. Finally, I want to apologize for using the phrase “commit suicide.” I was only recently told about this by a friend of mine who is an expert in suicide research, but had forgotten when I wrote the blog. It just goes again to prove that what psychiatrists are trained to understand and what a person who wants to die understands are not always synchronous.

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    • Hi Jack, I am not sure you remember me but I found your story very moving and want to wish you my very best. My thoughts have been with you. Ronnie

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      • Thank you, Ronnie. That means a great deal to me. Jack

  12. I thought the pain I was feeling was something no one knew. It is not. There are those who know that you could have it so much worse, or “what the heck have you got to be sorry about?” Thank you for your experiences. I will live tomorrow and I am going to give it all I have to live another day after. You all have some idea what your statement have given me. I’m trying hard. – Mike.

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  13. i lost my son joey to suicide when he was 21 he told me since he was 13 he didnt wanna live i have so much guilt about my son bc my first attempt was when i was 11 if i didnt screw it up i wouldnt be in so much pain my son was so phycially beautiful but he couldnt see it he only saw flaws, he was determined to do it i tried everything to make him happy but you can’t bc when you feel like that all you want is the pain to end i found him hung in my backyard it still drives me crazy, i see it over and over again he was my son and my best friend, then when i started trying to get on my feet my daughter took her life, she called me every night for two weeks telling me she wanted to be with her brother, she was stronger than him so i thought she would fight harder but the pain won she is gone oo now my grandsn has almost done it i feel so hurt and responsible if i didn’t have this curse depression my son wouldn;t have had it nor my daughter nor my grandson, i dont think drs. understand totally, if they dont experience depression or lost a child how can they i think sometimes they hope u arent serious bc they do i was told by other drs like its their fault like they will be blamed but it isnt their fault nobodys fault just ptsd and pain that u dont know what to do with. I told my son when i found him now u will never hurt again u did it right. You do feel prtty stupid when u can’t complete suicide and your kid did. I found this site through twitter and was interested in the drs story my heart went out to him bc i know how he felt and you aren’t a failure you did the best you could for your patients. I feel bad that u at one time really truly couldnt feel what your patients felt, but don’t feel bad bc te night my son did it i was running around screaming at every family member joey is gonna kill him self you wouldnt believe the respnses i got my one daugher said oh he is manipulative his father told him don’t keep talking about it do it, hs brother said i thought he was just in a mood when he came and said to me remember i always loved u dude, they knew he called me and begged me, please mom let me go if you love me u will he doesn’t realize his destroyed my life esp. when i found him so take it from me if your kid tells u they don;t wanna live listen. I tried to talk to my daughter for two hrs last night her response i told him u wanna die i’ll bury u she sad i won’t be manipulated like you you kissed their a….. i said no i loved them i wanted to save them, my heart is broken and i failed them i’m glad more awareness and these blogs are being written maybe people might understand u just don’t wake up one day and wanna kill yourself, its peoples cruel words too many losses and your heart can’t take anymore so please i beg everyone listen when anyone u know or care about gets in total dispair one kind word one call on tx one visit could make all the difference, sorry so long but i want so much to make it clear listen to your kids, my daughter won’t she thinks its getting attention its not and i hope my grandson gets better sincerely nikki

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  14. Thank you for your story. I have had many psychiatrists and therapists end their relationships with me because of my chronic suicidal thoughts. I have even been berated in support groups for depression for having attempted suicide! There is so much stigma attached to it, and I have yet to find anyone who understands what it is like to want to die. I am not a short-sighted teenager acting out of impulse, but a 42 year-old highly educated woman who lost my career and many other things to my severe chronic depression, It has been several years since my last attempt (I have had several, one of which I barely survived), but I still have not gotten to the point where I can honestly say that I am glad I did not succeed in my attempts. I hope one day I can. I wish I could find a psychiatrist or therapist like you.

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    • I hope that you will keep searching for that right therapist and doc. I still have ideations, even romantasize the thought, but my therapist have been there for me. 6 attempts. Last one almost 2 years ago. There is hope out there.

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  15. I commend everyone who had the guts and the will to put themselves out there and telling your stories. I always felt that I couldn’t talk about the “BIG SECRET” that i was afraid to let out. I was afraid to be able to express myself and tell my story because i was afraid and still am, that i would never be approved for my degree in Psychology. I have worked so hard to get to where i am now. My drive behind this is to become a Psychologist stemming from my own experience and also i see how many holes are in our system, i felt that if i could make a small contribution to help one person stay alive, then it would be worth all the work. I have been down that rabbit hole by trying to take my life , I am assuming from memory 35 times and lived. it took my last attempt 20 years ago to really get it. I feel from surviving that many times, maybe i was put on this earth to help people, That maybe God saved me all those times and made me wake up! It was about time i did. My last attempt, I actually heard the people and strangers trying to save me and I heard the concern and how hard they worked to save my life. That was the first time that ever happened. I had to get my medical records to make sure it wasn’t a hallucination or a dream,when i saw that everything I heard was on paper, I was shocked! A Light bulb clicked in my head and the cloud of dispair was gone. I am not saying I was cured, I still battle with depression and stuff, but from that time on There is nothing that will ever take me to that dark side again. I want to help, I want to live, I want to be a part of something in this world and I feel by pulling on my life experiences, maybe, just maybe i can help someone or maybe more. I feel time will tell and i plan to be here for a very longtime. I do appriciate everyone’s story and experiences on here because it makes me feel that i wasn’t the only one who went through that, and that alone is comforting. God Bless you all and I pray you keep going. Like in a song, Life’s a climb, but the view is great and its worth it when you reach the top.

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  16. I want to thank you for writing this.

    I feel like I’m crazy sometimes because none of my friends understand. I know I shouldn’t put this stuff on them, but I have problems talking to adults and doctors. I still have problems talking to them, but it’s a little bit easier, if only because they don’t tell. (I’m 17 and I can’t take any time off of school. It’s rigorous and doesn’t let people come back if they fail out or take a break of pretty much any kind.)

    I know I don’t want to live. That’s suicidal. I self-harm, though not cutting or burning. I’ve kind of stopped eating and sleeping. I’m majorly depressed, I’ve been so for over half my life. Yet I don’t exactly have tunnel vision. I have an extremely rational side that still sees suicide as a possibility, but not for right now because I couldn’t handle failing. Then I have the part that’s absolutely numb and dead inside, just wants to sleep. And the mask. A lovely mask so that people I don’t specifically want to know I’m suicidal don’t. I can even feel happy sometimes when I’m faking it. It’s a coping mechanism, I’m pretty sure. Developed because my dad and mom beat me and I was bullied in school, but I never want people to know anything’s wrong. I can’t be weak. The saddest thing is that my life has mostly improved, I’m in a good, if hard, school. I’m pretty smart. I’ll go to Research this summer at a lab. My mom and dad divorced and my mom’s nicer and my step-dad’s wonderful. I haven’t seen my dad in about 4 years or something like that. There’s not much reason to want to die. (Though the intense self-hate I have probably doesn’t help.

    I actually do have a therapist, but I haven’t been because of school. They actually know I’m suicidal, but that’s because I had to tell someone to get medicine. (Which isn’t helping. It just isn’t doing anything.)

    …Well, I don’t know why I wrote this. I really don’t know why I’m going to send it. I guess it really doesn’t matter.

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    • Thanks for your comment and your vulnerability in sharing. You are not alone. I have very similar experiences that you do although I had different issues growing up. I think it is extremely important that you are aware of your thoughts and feeling and great that you are seeking help. It is scary how quickly “passive” thoughts of wanting to die can change into “active” thoughts of taking steps to end you life. What Happens Now? is a phenomenal outlet and I have also found the community over at PsychCentral.com to also help. It’s just a thought as this has helped me cope with similar issues. I wish you the best of luck, keep reaching out, you are doing what it takes to live.

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    • I am also very glad you wrote and agree with Katie King’s comments. In fact, I believe I know just how you feel because your experiences so far–and your feelings as you describe them–are very close to mine at your age. That is why I wrote about my story in the first place–because like you I once thought I was alone and no one could understand me when in fact, even though everyone’s individual story is unique, there are so many people with very similar stories and issues. I hope you will do everything you possibly can to talk to your therapist more often–find one who will see you after school or on weekends or talk to you on the phone at night. Use on line resources (please go on the Jed Foundation website for instance and use their many excellent resources for people your age with depression and suicidal thoughts). You really sound like a very interesting person and you are so worth saving so reach out to everyone who will listen and never give up. Some day you will be very grateful you are hanging in there. Jack Gorman

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      • Thank you. I’m trying to work out the therapist thing without getting taken out of school. I really hope it gets better. I’ll try the website.

  17. I also tried and failed. I want to try again but afraid I will fail. I will try.

    Reply

    • Dear Roberta, I hope this means you are going to try and get better, not try to kill yourself again. “Failing” at suicide turned out to be a miracle for me, although I certainly did not think so at the time. Please keep trying to get help and do not lose hope.

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      • Thank you for your words of encouragement Jack. Honestly, I’m not sure what it means. I do know that it helps much seeing that I am not alone with such thoughts.

      • Roberta, you are very, very far from being alone.

  18. Thank you for coming out with your story. Knowing that you overcame your alcoholism/depression gives me a tad bit of hope that I can recover. Clinical depression and an eating disorder has destroyed me in 2013. I had a nervous breakdown in March where I left my professional job and my attempts to escape this monster have been futile up to this point. One year ago I was the happiest 26 year old girl with a great career, I bought my own house, and I had my ED under control. Now, I cannot see how I will get myself out of this mess that I’ve created. The depression is exacerbating the ED and vice versa. I oscillate between feelings of severe suicidal ideation and passing moments where I think recovery is possible. The former is dominating and I know it is a result of clinical depression however, the depression won’t go away and I refuse to waste more time in my own personal brand of hell.
    One thing I will say for sure about true suicidal ideation is that if you really want to do it…you don’t tell your therapist or doctor the truth. True intent to end one’s life is not expressed in a call for help.
    My brother committed suicide and I wished he would have tried absolutely everything. That is why I am giving meds one last shot.

    Reply

    • Carol, I am so sorry to hear about your problems with depression and an eating disorder but very happy to see you post this. You seem to have a very strong understanding of what is going on with you and a powerful desire to stay alive. It can take quite a lot of time and effort to get control of a severe depression/ED so what I learned from my experience is that it is important that you not get discouraged, make sure your therapists and doctors know you want to get better and that you expect them to work hard to help you get there. It is also realize now how important it is to reach out to as many people as you can. Isolation is the worst thing. I hope my experiences can be helpful to you. Jack

      Reply

  19. I am 70 years old and want to die. I vividly remember all my numerous sins and feel that there is no hope for me. I don’t commit suicide because I feel there is no guarantee that an attempt will work. How do I live with myself?
    My church just ignores me and tells me I feel bad because I need to repent more. I feel nothing from God so I feel that it really doesn’t matter whether I believe in Him or not. Most Christian websites say that often God wants to test us to see if we will stay faithful when He is not there. How are we supposed to survive without Him? I prefer to be alone because that way I don’t have to worry about making more mistakes.

    Reply

    • Dear Marilyn, I can certainly identify with extreme feelings of guilt over past mistakes. My mistakes were notorious and nationally publicized. But when I finally started to come to grips with my lifelong depression at age 55 I got a lot of help in dealing with those feelings. Some of my guilt was misplaced and some over things for which I could make amends. I got a lot of help from AA and its insistence that we stay in the day today. But basically I learned the most from a friend of mine who simply said “you have never done anything so bad that it deserves the death penalty.” I cannot speak for your religion as I am not Christian, but I believe that G-d, however we understand Him, wants us to be grateful that we are alive and always have the chance to do something good. I am sure I will make more mistakes but I also can try to be helpful. So I no longer consider suicide. Just my story. Jack

      Reply

  20. Every day I wake up wishing I was dead. I just want to die, it is the only hope or thought that brings me any peace at all now. I am suffering too much and have completely broken down and I have been in hospital and the drs there treated me horribly, I was having a breakdown due to 2 years of crises and life circumstances beyond what I could cope with anymore, I suffer from major depression, severe anxiety/panic disorder, agoraphobia and had been somewhat functional in the past, was even happy I think.. I laughed and enjoyed things… but I was never fully well, I had problems with depression and anxiety all my life… But more recently my life circumstances changed and I became extremely isolated and could not find any genuine support or practical help… and I couldn’t cope, I was sent into a nightmare of chronic, disabling terror and panic… My doctor sent me to hospital but there I was forcibly taken off my antidepressants and diazepam which I had been on for a long time, sending me into a state of withdrawal and constant panic, I was sent home unable to function or speak properly and more suicidal than ever, I am alone and have exhausted every avenue of possible help, I am hopeless I have no quality of life and I am so debilitated by chronic pain and non-stop panic attacks that I can no longer look after myself and am at risk of losing everything, there is more to the story but the sad part is that I honestly know within myself that I am beyond help now and nobody will help me anyway, I have struggled to survive but the public mental health system has failed me and I have become an emotional cripple, I do not want to live, I cannot resolve my problems I cannot even get out of bed, all I feel is pain and terror, I have literally begged and pleaded for help, for relief, for anything, for so long to no avail and have had enough… I have been turned away by my psychiatrist, GP, mental health nurse and family, I have no friends left and nobody to trust, I am a wreck and will soon lose my home, rights and any hope for a bearable future, I am terrified to be alive and to go on is not an option anymore, there are only 2 problems: 1) I don’t have a foolproof suicide method and I must not fail or I will end up suffering even more, and 2: There is nobody willing to take my beloved cat, I don’t want to leave him but I can no longer give him the love and care he needs, I have nowhere left to turn and no reason to exist, I don’t want to endure any more mistreatment or loss or pain, I have become so weak and helpless and am hung up on several times a day when I try to call crisis lines because I have developed a terrible stutter and can’t speak properly and am unable to control the constant panic attacks, shakes, and am in physical pain, I am too afraid to do ANYTHING, everything scares me, I don’t want to exist, I don’t know who I am anymore, I am irrepairably broken, a completely useless burden to the world and a lost cause … I am absolutely 100% ready to die, I wish the evil system that refuses me any relief, rights or humanse care would at least be merciful enough to euthanise me, as I am exhausted and cannot bear any more relentless pain and terror, I am broken and humiliated and

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  21. EDIT: **humane care. And the more I break down, the more the public mental health system seems to judge, discriminate against and ignore me. I’ve been told “You’re not trying”, “you have to help yourself”, etc, and I HAVE been trying, I have been suicidal for a long time but I STILL kept trying to get help for all my many problems and to find ways to survive all that I am going through, but my needs have not been acknowledged and I have been treated as a label, a statistic, and not considered worth proper care as I don’t have anyone to fight for me and I have lost all will to fight. I don’t know why I am posting this message, I guess so just wish that there had been a therapist who listened to me BEFORE I lost all hope, ad I did repeatedly cry for help, and when I first attempted suicide, I now know that I DIDN’T really want to die. I wanted help and support very much, but there was none. I just don’t matter to anybody and the mental health system treats me like a joke, there is no empathy for someone who has become so lost and broken that they are afraid of everything and have no self-worth and can’t function or even speak properly anymore… I am so ashamed to be still alive, I am so ashamed of how weak I am, and how I have crumbled into a shaking, confused, babbling mess since being forced off diazepam and being seen as nothing but a drug-addict because I fell to pieces without it, and my anxiety is now COMPLETELY paralysing, I can’t complete the most simple tasks, I shake and cry at the thought of walking out my front door, I can’t face reality, existence is too horrible to bear, I have failed at EVERYTHING and am facing a future too painful and terrifying to even contemplate, I can’t save myself, death seems inevitable or at the very least, my last and only option to stop this nightmare. Yes, I am a frighteningly weak, unbearably fragile, frustratingly child-like little COWARD and it’s no wonder nobody treats me with any respect or compassion, so truly, I KNOW my death would be best for everyone, I have no hope of ever being able to live any kind of normal life now, I have honestly no courage or strength left and hate what I’ve become and it is clear that nobody can or will help someone like me

    Reply

    • This is an old thread but Allison are you still here? I too suffer from depression and totally understand the hell you describe.

      Reply

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