The Two Pieces Of Advice That Stopped Me Committing Suicide

The Mask Of Depression

An amalgamation of many discussions with suicidal friends.

I will be honest with you, there is a part of me that idealises suicide. That toys with the idea of it from time to time. It would be easy to not exist. To go to sleep and never wake up. The voices would be silenced. The pain would stop. There would be no more self-doubt. Just peace. Nothingness.

So what has stopped me?

Each time that I was close to following through, one thought kept coming to mind. It was so poignant that I couldn’t shake it.

“My suicide won’t end the pain; it would just pass it on.”

If I were to die, my pain would be over, but yours would begin. You would inherit my sadness. You would be left wondering why. Suffering in my stead. I put myself in your shoes. I imagined you discovering my body. I imagined what you would think.

I couldn’t do it to you. I couldn’t leave you with a thousand unanswered questions, or the years of heart ache.  I couldn’t give you a lifetime of rumination and regret. I couldn’t inflict my pain upon you.

In that moment, my love for you saved me.

Then I thought of the others. I realized that this pain was mine alone and by killing myself I would just be multiplying it, spreading it to everybody that cares for me. I have heard that suicide is contagious, often impacting multiple people from families or social groups in a short period of time. I didn’t want to be the catalyst for such trauma.

But the problem was that those thoughts alone couldn’t sustain me for long. Because now, on top of everything I was already feeling, I felt guilty. I couldn’t stay, but now I also couldn’t leave. I was trapped. In my desperation, I turned to a trusted friend for advice. I told him about my desire to end it all as well as my feelings of love and guilt stopping me.

Looking directly into my eyes he gave me the following advice:

“If you are sure you want to do it, that’s fine. I can see that what you are going through is overwhelming and that you are struggling. It would be selfish of me to tell you that you need to stay. Who am I to judge your pain? Who is anyone? Only you know what you can take.

All I ask for, is one month. Just one more month. If you follow my advice, and you still feel the same way, I understand and will even help with the process to make sure you that don’t mess it up.”

That made me curious so I decided to hear him out.

“I heard an anecdote once about suicide survivors that were interviewed after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Apparently they all reported having the same thought on the way down as they were falling. Something along the lines of ‘Every problem in my life is fixable, besides this one’. The mind reels at how many people plummeted to their deaths regretting the decision. Now I don’t know if that is true, but there is a lesson there regardless.

Follow me on this one. If you are going to kill yourself, you are basically free right? You are now almost without consequence, because if worst comes to worst, you will just end it. You have lost nothing. So you may as well do everything you have ever wanted to do, because what have you got to lose?

So the question I ask you is: have you tried everything? Like literally everything to fix the problems in your life? No? Why not?”

A month later my friend called in for a visit. I was still alive and in a much better place. I had taken his advice.

I know that my problems are different to yours.  But my friend’s advice still holds. If you are contemplating suicide, please try everything else first. Other than your life, what have you got to lose? In my opinion, you can only gain from trying.

Here are a few things that you could try before suicide (please add to this list):

-          Quit your job
-          Sell your possessions and travel
-          Talk with a psychologist
-          Ask that person out
-          Read every book you have been meaning to
-          Honestly ask your friends and family for support    
-          Get the divorce
-          Go on antidepressants
-          Move house
-          Exercise
-          Meditate

Please don’t make a permanent decision based on temporary problems.

Zachary Phillips

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