“Suicide is not a blot on anyone’s name; it is a tragedy.” –Kay Redfield Jamison
My granny saved her dad’s life by cutting him down while he was attempting to hang himself. At best, four generations of us have been plagued with depression starting with my great grandpa. I contemplated suicide more than once, and my first vivid memory of that was at age 16. Most of my own family doesn’t know this about me because no one talked about suicide; it was too shrouded in shame. When I first sought help I was nearly 30 years old. Even then I only talked about feeling depressed, not the suicidality.
I have a memory from years ago when my teen daughter heard me say that I wanted to die. She overheard a conversation that I thought was private. She came to me later and told me. I felt so ashamed. I quickly apologized and told her how sorry I was, and that I would “never say that again.” She looked me squarely in the face and peered into my eyes and said, “Mom, I don’t want you just not to say it again, I don’t want you to feel it!” What a heartfelt and keen thing for her to say! She understood it wasn’t just about the words coming out of my mouth, but what caused me to feel it. I didn’t feel shamed by her; I felt her love and concern for me. It profoundly impacted me. I wish I could say that was the last time I had suicidal thoughts, but it wasn’t. Years later, I finally did get the help I really needed.
Suicide still carries with it stigma and/or shame. We need more and more open conversations about suicide in safe, non-judgmental spaces for people to share their feelings. Fortunately, we are making some headway on it.
Please don’t wait any longer if you’re struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts. There’s peer supports and a variety of professionals standing by waiting to help you—and they want you to feel cared for, not shamed. Recovery is absolutely possible! There are many people that are living proof that we can heal and live full lives following suicidality.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health or suicidal thoughts, please call, chat, or text 988. There is hope.
Cheri works as a Peer Support Specialist for RI in Arizona. She has experienced loss and grief which has led her to write for the masses to bring voice to those in similar situations. Cheri possesses a deep passion to share with, encourage, and inspire others on what she calls the Journey of the Heart.