Here are a few things that helped me get into my suicidal states, and the things that got me out of them:
As I’ve said before on this blog, I have had three attempts.
Once was in high school and occurred immediately after my first uptick from deep depression following my first major break-up. This is a common thing for me, and I have found that I am not alone in that I am not suicidal in my lowest points, but I am very vulnerable directly after a break from them.
Nothing saved me but my own body. I was trying to asphyxiate myself and I passed out, which loosened my grip and kept me alive.
My second attempt came shortly after returning home from my honeymoon. I got exceedingly drunk at a get-together, had a rather serious talk on the car ride home (I wasn’t driving), and pulled a kitchen knife on myself after another serious talk with my wife. Neither talk was negative, but both were about making changes in my life, big ones. My wife calmed the situation down and called my Dad and I had another serious talk with him about suicide.
I never got to the point of actually harming myself (although I would use the same knife a couple months later to cut up my chest and stomach) so I attribute the defragging of the moment to the intervention of my wife and father.
My third attempt was on my 30th birthday. I stayed home from work, was in bed all day until I found enough energy to attempt suicide via hanging. It was too painful to bear and that is what stopped me. My wife found the belt still in the door jamb when she got home this eventually led to my ECT.
In all three cases there was the same major trigger, life change, and the same set of internal alarms, not good enough, not worth anything, it will never get better.
In all three cases I was coming slightly up from an extreme low. And I was also in that low for a long time. Even in the case with my girlfriend, I think a reason she dumped me was because I was depressed and neither of us knew it.
In all three cases I chickened out. I didn’t have it in me to do it. I thought I did, I wanted to, but I didn’t use easier methods or have more committed plans to actually execute it.
In all three cases I was subsequently hospitalized, and I needed to be. What a lot of people don’t know about a suicide attempt is that it isn’t over when the event is done. Every time I felt very vulnerable for weeks after the event. Every time the fact that I had attempted suicide made me more depressed. Every time the fact that I had failed to complete the act made me even more depressed. It is a nasty cycle.
In all three cases people who meant a lot to me put in a tremendous amount of effort to help me through it after the fact, but no one saw it coming. I did not purposely hide my intentions, but it isn’t difficult to not notice it in someone else.
In the first two cases I felt like my life got significantly worse after the event. And I don’t mean that I was hospitalized or people were treating me differently. I mean that the way I thought and felt about myself, the direction my treatment would go, my new psychology was all worse.
That changed upon receiving ECT after my third attempt. Real medical treatments like this and the other electro-magnetic ones currently being used and developed give me hope about my future. I know that if I ever get back to that point, if I can make it through, there is probably relief waiting for me.
Because that is the most common line of thinking for a suicidal person, ‘will relief ever come?’
It is next to impossible to look back at months or years or even decades of your life when you mostly felt like shit and say to yourself ‘it will get better than this’. You know it won’t. And even if it does for awhile, it will only end up back here.
That is the despair you have to have to kill yourself, that nothing will ever happen to make your life worth living. It is a difficult feeling to shake, and one that sticks with you long after you are no longer suicidal.
I am going to post some links and phone numbers and jazz like that, but in all honesty, you are the best resource out there. If you want to help someone through a suicidal event, do it yourself. Just listen, rub their back, get them some water. Limit the advice, avoid hacky inspirational one-liners or stories, keep them away from substances, even greasy food.
This is a good resource for both suicidal people, and people who know someone.