If you, or someone you know, is in need of immediate help PLEASE call 911 or your local crisis hotline.
Kids Help Phone (a crisis line for youth under 20) 1-800-668-6868
National Suicide Prevention Hotline (US & Canada) 1-800-273-8255
Ontario Mental Health Helpline 1-866-531-2600
Trans Lifeline (a crisis line for transgender youth and adults) 877-330-6366
First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line: 1-855-242-3310
I was 16 when I first had thoughts of killing myself. They were fleeting, but always lurking, nestled in the back of my mind. They would wait patiently for a moment of vulnerability, and come crawling out of the shadows ready to prey on a moment of weakness. No amount of wishful thinking could make them go away. I was convinced no one would miss me. I was convinced it was the best option. I was convinced it was in my life plan. Growing up, suffering from depression, I never saw myself growing old. I never saw myself with a family, a partner, or a future. The idea of turning 25 was inconceivable to me. The idea of a happy, fulfilled life was unfathomable.
I dropped out of school at 17 due to severe depression, crippling anxiety, and an eating disorder that consumed my life. During this time, I spent most of the day cooped up in the house. I was fearful. Fearful of the outside world. Fearful of my inadequacies. Fearful of the future. I was left alone to stew in my thoughts. The negative thoughts grew stronger and crueler. I hated myself. I couldn’t stand the thought of existing anymore. I began to voice my thoughts out loud which caught the attention of my father. Beginning to write things down, a post-it note of his I once found said this,
“I don’t want live anymore.”
“What’s the point?”
“I want to kill myself.”
“It’s not worth it if I feel this way.”
I was taken to the hospital.
At the time, these thoughts were rational to me. I didn’t think there was anything wrong with feeling the way I did. I had accepted that this was what my life was supposed to be like. I had accepted that I was never destined for greater things. Not wanting to spend my days restricted to the white walls of a hospital, I lied through my teeth to the crisis worker they assigned to me. If I wanted to die, it was going to be on my own terms.
One night, during my first year of university, I felt like I couldn’t do it anymore. I couldn’t live like this. My grades were terrible. I had been the victim of assault. I felt that I deserved nothing. Feeling that I couldn’t continue any longer, I sat on the bathroom floor, a cocktail of pills in my hands. Grasping what looked like a small pharmacy, I became fascinated with the power I held in my hand. It amazed me how something so small could be so powerful. How something so ignored could be so significant. Was it really bad to be so small, to feel so small?
I don’t really know what stopped me, and I don’t think I’ll ever know. Perhaps it was that I felt I couldn’t do this to my family, or that I didn’t even deserve the escape suicide would have allowed. Maybe it was that I didn’t want to become another statistic, or end up as a story in the paper. Whatever the reason(s) may be, I’m so very grateful that I flushed death down the toilet that day.
In Canada, it is estimated that approximately 210 people attempt suicide every day. Of those attempts, 11 people will be successful. That’s 4, 015 people every year. 4, 015 people too many. In 2009, it is estimated that up to 100, 000 years of life were lost to suicide. That’s years of life that lost out on birthdays, graduations, marriages, promotions, children, and much deserved happiness. Suicide does not discriminate. Age, gender, sexual orientation, economic class, race or ethnicity doesn’t ensure immunity. Over 90% of suicide victims suffer from at least one mental health disorder. However, depression accounts for 60% of that population. Rather than one single determining factor, suicide is often motivated by many. Declining health, marital stress, sexual assault, abuse, major loss, and mental health can all be contributing factors of suicide.
What are some symptoms?
In one’s self:
Feelings of hopelessness or despair
Thoughts of, or committing, acts of self-harm
Preoccupation with death or dying
Talking about harming themselves
Withdrawing from friends and family
Increase in risky behaviour
What can you do to help?
Talk about it. Stigma is the biggest hurdle mental health advocacy faces. Take the shame, uncomfortably, awkwardness of a conversation, and open up!
Equip yourself with the skills to help others. Learning how to talk to someone you suspect may be suicidal could help you to save a life.
Never blame yourself. No matter how hard you may try, prevention, unfortunately, is not always possible.
For access to a list of distress and crisis centers, plus more information please visit The Canadian Association of Suicide Prevention