Editor’s note: In light of the recent suicide cases involving Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain reaching international headlines, The Tribune staff is taking the time in this issue to focus on the topic of suicide awareness.
I have attempted suicide multiple times and, in fact, still battle that demon occasionally.
If you have never been open about suicidal thoughts, you cannot possibly know how frightening it is to make such a confession out loud.
Chances are good someone will try to lock you up.
Although attempting to get help for suicidal thoughts instead of acting on them, forced confinement against the recommendation of my physician and therapist was the catalyst for my experience with post traumatic stress disorder.
That explains the extreme challenge to get help for certain things since those professions are among my triggers.
It’s also why it is so very important to me that people understand that there is a big difference between having thoughts about suicide and thinking about ways of killing yourself.
There are some extreme moments in life when it can make sense, especially to those struggling, to not want to go on living: losing a child. Disappointing a parent. Divorce.
It can be more of a struggle than people realize for some of us to experience things that are simply sad for others.
It was a long, hard road for me to be able to acknowledge the difference between, “I feel like I want to die” and, “I am going to kill myself.”
“I am going to kill myself” means I have been actively thinking about a plan. You will never ever hear me utter such a phrase even in jest.
I remember what it was like to think that feeling was going to last forever and that there was absolutely nothing I could do about it.
I remember what it was like to wait for the darkness with the belt around my throat.
I remember what it was like to be surprised a person could wake up after taking all those pills.
I remember what it was like to watch for the place on the bridge where I could drive through with minimal damage to anything but my own car and myself, of course.
These are the people who need intervention and they need it now because, even if they are not serious, they need to understand that phrase is not to be taken lightly.
Those feelings of darkness are difficult to overcome and, for some people, can lead to being so driven to self-destruction that they harm others beyond what every suicide causes.
To express the fact that you have those feelings should never be shameful and it makes me angry that it is.
If someone feels like they want to die, how are they supposed to get help if they are afraid of being locked up?
Having suicidal thoughts does not mean that you want your life to be over forever, it just means you want the pain to end and you don’t know what else to do.
That is precisely when you need to reach out to other people, and yet we have a culture of hiding those moments in shame.
Being aware that one’s mental state is impacted by any medication, I was entirely too honest when seeking help for pain shortly after we decided on divorce.
Doctors have to protect themselves first in order to be able to continue to help others so I was unable to be treated because I would not submit for psychological evaluation.
I felt extremely confident about my psychological state when I walked out of there and didn’t have a complete breakdown: it was like a mirror to the situation that triggered the PTSD.
It was all based on the fact that the word suicide automatically is associated with a need to be immediately hospitalized for one’s own well-being.
The truth is we want people who talk about suicide to be locked up for our own well-being: We don’t want to be responsible if someone does lose their internal battle.
We don’t want to be on call 24/7 for someone who needs to cry in the middle of the night when we have to get up and go to work in the morning.
We don’t want to spend our vacation days prodding someone so that they make it to their appropriate appointments.
We certainly don’t want to sit in psychiatrist’s office and listen to what a terrible influence we have been, even if we understand that it’s just a loved one lashing out.
Stars forbid we admit our own concerns and insecurities that lead to medications or meditations so that we can deal with our own internal demons.
After all, if someone found out the truth about what happens inside our heads, they might judge us.
Beanie Taylor is a staff reporter for The Tribune. She can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TBeanieTaylor.