Bipolar ThoughtsSuicide

A lot of people like to mention that suicide is irrational, but I disagree.

I should clarify; I am not saying that it is rational (although I’ll get to that in a bit); I’m saying it doesn’t matter either way.

Is smoking rational? What about eating pizza or drinking pop or shooting heroin? What is really all that rational about a lot of things people do every day. And every one of those things can be rationalized, and often is, by the people who do it. Have you ever successfully gotten a smoker to quit by saying “smoking is irrational”? I doubt it.

Bipolar ThoughtsSuicideTherapy

With all the hurricanes and earthquakes and fires and everything happening lately, I have seen a lot of footage of people being rescued. You know the image: person lying in a stretcher, being placed into the back end of an ambulance; usually an oxygen mask on their face. They look hurt, but it is an optimistic image. You know that the worst is probably behind this person. They are safe now. The healing has already begun.

I don’t mean to minimize how intense the healing process is, or the struggle some of those people will endure yet. And obviously, some of those people won’t ever leave that hospital. But what I am speaking to is that hopeful image. They put that image on the news because it shows devastation, but it shows humans prevailing, overcoming, helping, healing. It shows us that everything will be okay.

This is meant to depict the end of the struggle. Help has arrived. Safety.

For those of us who have gone to the hospital for mental health concerns, it is often a very different situation. For us, going to the hospital is filled with fear and trepidation. It might save our life, but things will probably get worse before they get better.

Bipolar ThoughtsSuicide

I found myself standing on the purple and pink stool my daughter uses to wash her hands in the bathroom sink.

I knew I would need a stool this time, it needed to be higher than last time.

I also knew I needed to use a belt that would close tight with my weight, and be difficult to open, even without weight against it. Things were too easy last time.

I spent about 25 minutes just standing there with everything in place.

I wasn’t emotional at all.

I wasn’t even really very sad.

The view from the doorway to my bathroom opens up to almost my entire house. I studied it. I thought about how I came to the point in my life where this was my home. I wondered about what would happen to it after this.

My wife would find me here. I thought about how haunted this doorway, and the view it provides, would become for her.

I wondered how long until my daughter understood, and then how long until she forgot.

That’s when I started to get emotional.

I pulled out my phone and opened it up to my favorite current picture of me and her.

I just held it about a foot from my eyes and wept.

This is it.

I put my phone in my pocket with that image still lighting up the screen.

I looked out the front window and saw my neighbor on a walk with the kids. A neighbor I know well, kids I do too. I wondered if I was seen, standing on this stool in this doorway.

But I wasn’t.

I considered running outside and begging for help.

But I didn’t.

I knew in the deepest parts of me that everything would be ok afterwards. I still know this is what’s best for my family.

A father’s job is to do what is best, no matter how difficult, isn’t it?

I stared out the window, focused on what needed to be done, and then kicked the stool out from under my feet.

I miscalculated everything.

There was too much length in the belt, the stool was too short.

I was able to push my toes into the floor and open the door behind me. The intense pain of this is difficult to imagine. It only takes about 25 seconds to lose consciousness, but each second feels like an hour.

I immediately grabbed the taller stool.

I made the belt tight as I fit it into the door jamb, and I locked the bathroom door.

Lessons learned.

I opened my phone back up and stared at the photo of my daughter.

We were at the zoo, standing on a fence looking at both the giraffes and zebras.

It was the best part of what would become a pretty awful day. She hadn’t turned into a terrible listener, and I hadn’t yet become a monster. But both of those things were inside us.

I lost all my energy then.

The tears that flowed from me resembled the sort of booming and ominous summer storms that scare you awake and force you to close the windows.

I released the belt. Got down and placed it on the stool. I unlocked the bathroom door and grabbed a tissue.

I really don’t know what happened for the next hour or so. I didn’t sleep, as I have in the past. But I wasn’t really awake either.

The thoughts didn’t leave me that day, and the next day I found myself in a similar headspace.

The view from the height of that stool is still haunting me, but it appears to be beckoning me as well.

Bipolar ThoughtsDepressionPersonal HistoryPersonal RelationshipsSuicide

So, I have both been avoiding this essay, and also chomping at the bit to publish it. This one is a difficult one, and I think suicide attempt survivors are united both in our visceral reaction to this story, and our opinion of what happened.

You have probably all heard about this, but if you haven’t, you need to look it up. A 20 year old woman named Michelle Carter was just found guilty of manslaughter for encouraging the suicide of her friend, Conrad Roy III, almost entirely through text messages and a single phone call. The suicide happened on July 12, 2014.

I have no desire to get into the legal talk about the case or the verdict. Frankly, I don’t care. I have an uneducated opinion that I won’t share here. But I thought this would be a good opportunity to talk about how significant an influence a person’s words can be, and how important timing is in that scenario.

Bipolar ThoughtsSuicide

When you commit to a plan of suicide…

…and I mean fully commit. I mean not just the method and means or timing, but also the details of how people might find you, how you can control the dissemination of that information, if you can give a final word or meaningful act. When you begin to crystalize the plans down to what will happen not just in sequence but also minute by minute. When you begin to contemplate how your death will impact people. When you decide to destroy worlds, dramatically shift lives, and alter timelines. When you pour over how everything about your very personal life might become public, including the hundreds of god awful blogs you have written that are sitting in a file named “never use”.

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I had a strange, but not at all uncommon experience driving my car this afternoon.

I was stopped at the train-tracks today. I was second in line, and therefore saw the gates coming down. The car in front of me decided he didn’t want to wait and drove around the downed gates before the train came. And so I pulled up very close to the gate myself.

And as soon as I saw his car go I couldn’t stop thinking about his car being crushed, and then I couldn’t stop about my own being crushed.

I assume that isn’t uncommon. I think this is a common fantasy people have; same as the desire to jump from a high open location.

Bipolar ThoughtsSuicide


That was the most motor vehicular related deaths ever recorded in a single year in the USA, in 1972.

The federal government proclaimed motor vehicular deaths as a public health issue and has since thrown billions of dollars at the problem. And it worked! Not only have those deaths sharply decreased to 32,675 in 2014, they have done so despite the fact that we now drive many more miles with more cars on the road. There has been nearly a 215% increase in the amount of miles driven since 1972, but the mortality rate has dropped over 40%.

That is a truly amazing thing and many people consider it the greatest achievement of the public health works of the 20th century.

That’s difficult to quantify, so I won’t try, however it is still amazing.

Bipolar ThoughtsPersonal RelationshipsSuicide

Monday was my wife’s first day back to work since the birth of my son.

So Monday was also my first day driving both kids home from my parent’s house. And for whatever reason, very surprisingly, the drive home was rather emotional for me.

Maybe it was the realization that this is the last one. I’ll never have another first day of driving my child home from my parent’s house. This one is it. Our family is settled at this point. But to be honest, I wasn’t thinking about my son really at all. I was focused on my daughter.

Bipolar ThoughtsSuicide

September is Suicide Prevention Month. And so, here is a bit about gun violence and suicide and mental illness.

If you want to make a serious impact on reducing gun violence deaths, you need to target suicide.

Fun facts about gun suicides!

They are over 90% (some say 95%) effective!

Gun suicide is the most common method, accounting for more deaths than all other methods combined (and this isn’t even counting homicides that most people believe are suicide. For example, suicide rates in African American communities are extremely low, but homicide rates are higher than average. Most experts believe that suicidal people in these communities put themselves into a situation to be murdered as a way out. Similar logic applies to a significant proportion of motor vehicular accidents).