Content Warning: If you need support, you can reach out to the lifeline at 1–800–273–8255.
A few months prior to my attempt, my therapist told me that people who attempt suicide typically have tunnel vision. Suicide seems like the only viable option at the moment.
She said that most people who attempt suicide regret their decision. This is true. There are a number of suicide attempt survivors who have shared their regret, most notedly Kevin Hines, who survived jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. Hines has said he felt instant regret as soon as he left the bridge.
What no one actually tells you about surviving a suicide attempt is that you can experience regret at not dying.
It’s irresponsible to push a narrative about surviving suicide without addressing the fact that many who do attempt still struggle. They may even attempt again. Forty percent of those who do die by suicide had a previous attempt.
While there were (and are) days I’m appreciative to still be here, there are days I regret being alive. Many times we hear survivor stories about gratitude. They share how they’ve since gotten better and no longer find themselves in that dark place.
This may be true for some, but it isn’t true for me or many others who attempt suicide. A previous suicide attempt is the “single most important risk factor for suicide,” according to the World Health Organization.
My attempt was three years ago today. May 16, 2016, was supposed to be the first day of summer break. Instead, I was finally giving into my thoughts and overwhelming emotions I couldn’t fight anymore.
The last five months of my junior year in college were hell as I juggled school and crippling depression. I thought things would get better as soon as I finished the semester. It was the reason I held out all semester, holding onto the last sliver of hope that I could get better.
When I didn’t feel better, I became completely hopeless. My friend/neighbor came over that day and found me distraught on the bathroom floor. (I will not detail the method I used because it’s proven to be dangerous to people at risk for suicide.)
Days after the initial numbness and shock of my attempt, I had moments where I realized the magnitude of the situation. I found myself grateful for dogs and mundane parts of life. This appreciation for life has come and gone over the last three years. I’ve cried thinking of how grateful I am.
But that’s half of the story, and the other half is just as important.
I’m not always appreciative. I think about all the pain I could have avoided had I died. My disorder is cyclical, so depressive episodes will be a part of my life forever. I still have suicidal thoughts, though not presently and not nearly as intense as they used to be.
This anniversary is both a blessing and a curse. I am stronger now than I was then, partly because of my experience. I can see how far I’ve come. It is a reminder, though, of emotions and worries I’d rather forget most days.
Thoughts of regret are just another version of suicidal thoughts, which I’ve learned to handle over the years. They come and go, which is why I know I can beat it. While one day may be tough, the next day might be better. The better days are worth it, and they will come. I hope you stick around to experience them.