Talking Myself Out of Suicide
When every day is a struggle to stay alive, just staying alive is enough
I have contemplated suicide.
There, I said it.
I use to be ashamed to admit I’ve had suicidal thoughts.
I found my depression something to hide — from my coworkers, my family, my friends.
I feared what they would think of me.
I even had irrational fears of what they might do to me.
Every asylum horror movie comes to mind.
Straight jackets. Heavy medication. Abusive staff. You get the picture.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1 (800) 273–8255
2019 was one of the worst mental health years for me on record yet.
With the decline in family members’ health, my ever-growing fear of never living as my “real” self as my age ticks closer to that 30-year mark, and the concern of never reaching my goals, I’ve struggled to find reasons to stay alive.
I didn’t get the job our family needed to escape poverty. Bills are piling up. Appliances keep going out. We need a plumber and an electrician to visit the house, yet we’re struggling to figure out how to afford to just stay afloat.
Problem after problem hit us hard over the past year.
Outsiders looking in have joked that our family is cursed. We need an exorcism on my bloodline, they said.
One particular Saturday hit me harder than most.
I felt alone and isolated and like a failure on the family. I was convinced I was a burden on my parents, my sister, my nephews, and my friends.
I decided, then, that I needed to die.
There is a beautiful scenic cliff I love to stand at to photograph the valley. It’s a long drop over the edge.
See, I had it all worked out.
I’d put on some of my favorite music. Send some last “I love you” texts. And then I’d drive off it.
I hoped it would be deemed an accident. After all, my family didn’t know how I felt. I had been pretty good at hiding it.
I thought about my life insurance. Maybe it could save them from poverty in a way I still haven’t been able to.
But I didn’t do it.
I thought about my brother, who died in 2016. How he didn’t want to die but did. At age 35, he still had so much life to live.
I remembered how my mother screamed when I told her he was gone. I pictured my sister when she collapsed on our front porch.
I saw his son, just a child, laying on the floor of the funeral home beside his father’s urn and sobbing. My nephews and nieces crowded together on a couch near the altar, their tiny faces wet with tears.
All images that have stuck with me.
Images I didn’t want to repeat.
That day decided for me that I needed to work on my mental health.
Despite all my fears of doctors, I asked for help and my doctor prescribed medication. She referred me to a behavioral health person, who then suggested I start therapy.
Although I haven’t made that step yet, it’s something I’m considering. I don’t need another Saturday like that one. I can’t risk it again.
Not just for my sake, but for the sake of everyone around me.
I find it easier to motivate myself when my intentions are not to help myself but to help those around me. Mom doesn’t deserve more pain. Sister has enough problems. My nephews lost their Uncle Jon. They don’t need to lose me too.
If you have considered suicide, get help.
It’s the hardest step, but a necessary one.
When you’re in the moment, get rid of any means that you could use to hurt yourself. Tell friends or family what you’re thinking. Go to them if you can or have them come to you.
If you can’t, call a hotline. Join a suicide prevention chat. Go to an emergency room if you have to.
In my case, I avoided the cliff. I went to a local artist cooperative and surrounded myself with people and food and music. The distraction healed me. I later went home and hugged my mother extra tight.
I had survived.
A safety plan outlines what you will do in a moment of suicidal thoughts.
It includes a list of important resource numbers, such as a therapist, family, friends, and other prevention sources, like those listed above.
Include a list of ways you can make the environment around you safe. This might be removing weapons or pills from the household or having someone else remove them for you.
Keep on hand a paper listing reasons to be alive. In my case, this would be my family and my pets. The books I still want to read. The movies I still want to see. Sometimes something as simple as wanting to see the final season of your favorite TV show is enough.
Failure is a part of life. Problems will continue and new issues will spawn.
What’s important is to remember that while problems will always surface, solutions are often too always on the horizon.
Look to the future.
You may not have achieved what you wanted yet but that doesn’t mean you won’t ever.
If you kill yourself now, you remove that chance to see what the future may hold. And while the future may have many rough days ahead, it also will hold so many good ones too.
Remember: Surviving is an achievement of its own. Make it your goal.
I know it’s one of mine.
Cassius Corbin is a poet, fiction writer, photographer, and full-time journalist from rural Oklahoma. Follow him on Twitter @cassiuscorbin, Instagram @sixfeetrooted or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.