Oh boy, this is going to be a tough one.
Whenever you talk about darkness, depression, or troubled times, there is one question that always comes to mind but rarely gets spoken out loud.
Have you ever thought about killing yourself?
What are you supposed to do here? Every answer is impossible. If you say yes, everyone will freak the fuck out and might even have you hospitalized. If you say no, it’s hard to get someone to believe you because why would you be honest about that? There is almost no answer you could give that would be sufficient. On the other hand, the person asking doesn’t really know what they would rather hear as well. If you get a yes, it means you are now directly responsible for this person’s life, but if you get a no, and it turns out they were lying, you might actually blame yourself for what happened to them. It’s lose-lose for both parties.
With cigarettes to my left and wine to my right, I’ll try my best to answer as honestly as I can. Bear in mind that the chances that this book will be read by anyone other than my closest circle, my mom, dad, sister, and brothers are very slim. It doesn’t often happen that someone’s first attempt at writing a book reaches the New York Times bestseller list. With that in mind, this might just turn out to be nothing more than a very unconvertable subject for my next Christmas family dinner. But suicide is a very important and complicated subject. So, with a slim chance that this does go out into the world and gets read, we have to talk about this.
The simple answer is: Yes. Yes, I have.
On multiple occasions, I have considered several forms of suicide.
Does that mean that I am suicidal? No.
The reason why I should not be considered as such is because it’s not as simple as a yes or no question. Getting to a place where any form of suicidal thoughts might enter your mind is hard to do. It takes a hell of a lot of days where you feel absolutely fucked before these ideas creep into your mind. When they do pop up, there is so much going on that the answer to ‘do I want to kill myself’ doesn’t present itself as a simple ‘yes’ ‘no’ or ‘cancel’ screen you get when you want to save a word document. It is far closer to a seventy-eight page ‘terms of service’ screen where you have to read every word before you can hit ‘I agree’ or ‘I don’t agree.’ The shittier your life gets, the longer the ‘terms of services’ become. A bigger problem with approaching this question as a simple yes or no is because suicidal thoughts are a very shameful thing. It goes against every fiber of your being to even think about ending your life.
Furthermore, as far as I have found out, in most cases, it isn’t even a clear cut, suicidal thought. From my own experience and from talking to a lot of other dark-minded people, I think I can break down the different versions of these thoughts for you. Just so the complicated concept of this question becomes a little clearer, and hopefully, the shame that surrounds talking about these thoughts gets downgraded a bit. Because these thoughts are isolating. Being able to talk about this with someone is lifesaving.
Number one: They’ll miss me when I’m gone.
Even before I got really dark, I can remember thinking this in very dire situations. It’s a melancholic, I’ll prove them wrong, shaking your fists at the sky kind of sentiment. The idea of being misunderstood or unheard will get you to a point where you start imagining what other people would think if your life stopped right now. In no way does this mean you would actually want to kill yourself, it’s a hypothetical. As if you are in a sad Hollywood movie where you could attend your own funeral and see how much people actually really cared about you. It’s drama, comforting, and vindication. Not actual suicidal tendencies. Even though these thoughts are rather harmless under ‘normal’ circumstances, this is the ‘gateway drug’ for actual suicidal thinking. The ‘they’ll miss me when I’m gone’ statement (in a suicidal sense) is the same as something you may have said in an argument with a girlfriend or boyfriend just before a break up to make them realize how lucky they are to have had you and that they will realize that when it’s too late. When you were young, your parents may have made you so mad that you wanted to run away from home, thinking, ‘they will appreciate me more once I’m not there.’ When life thoroughly screws you over time and time again, that same sentiment comes up. You feel helpless and not helped. You feel abandoned by your surroundings, and you have so much potential in you and know who valuable you are for everyone around you that you think ‘they’ll miss me when I’m gone.’ But once you get dark, everything gets a little bit heavier. Happy moments are less happy, and bad moments become worse. A simple thought like that all of a sudden feels like a real threat to yourself instead of a poorly written movie line. This, in turn, plants a subconscious belief that you might actually mean it, even if that isn’t the case.
Number two: Make it stop.
It might be hard to imagine if your life is, at the very least slightly, above a passing grade, but the stress and chokehold nature of the problems darkness can bring are very strong. Almost weekly, I look at the next couple of days and only see the problems that I will face. This dark blanket of responsibility and fear wraps tightly around my head and nearly immobilizes me. These are the times when suicidal thoughts almost present themselves as a way out. A morbid helping hand being stretched out with ending it all as the solution. Once again, these thoughts only offer solace, the peace it can bring that there is a way out, a way to make it stop. Simultaneously every fiber of your body will rebel against this and will show you why it is still very much worth living. The combined effect of the oddly calming nature of having a way out and far superior feeling of wanting to stay in it will help you through this moment. It is very hard, and even quite surprising to me as I write this, to realize that these terrible thoughts of ending your life might actually be the reason you keep on living. Of course, as with most things, this all balances on a very thin line. Most of the times when this line of thinking came into my mind the mere fact of having some kind of answer to all of my darkness would give me five minutes of utter terror and horrible thoughts, but after going that deep, it would shut my darkness up for a while so that I could get myself out of bed and, at the very least, do something good for myself so that the day was not a total loss.
Other times it would serve as a morbid thought experiment that would actually help me to identify what I value in life. By committing to fully allowing myself to think it all the way through, I would end up with the realization that I really, really did NOT want to do it. Beyond that, when you actually start going through all the motions of what you might do, it reveals a bunch of stupid, petty and irrational things that you don’t want to do even if your life ends at the end of it. In my case, I had a few of these nights where this ‘thought experiment’ happened, and after that, I had a fully formed plan as to how I would do it.
Apart from two things.
The way I would do it and what I would write as a note.
The simple ‘logistics’ and practical side of things were all planned out, keeping in mind that I would try to make everything as easy for the ones I would leave behind. A key under the doormat would prevent the need of breaking down the door, a list of all my passwords would be ready so that the ‘admin’ stuff you have to do after a loved one dies would be less of a headache. I would call the emergency services right before I would go through with it, explaining the above situation, to spare my close family and friends from the horror of having to be the one to find me. The snag in this plan was always that I could not figure out how I would do it or why. The thought alone of slitting my wrists felt horrible, and (I believe this to be more important and rationalizing) I really did not want to make a mess. I imagine a lot of blood would be involved, and I did not want anyone to have to clean that up or get my couch stained and soaked in it. On the other hand, if hanging myself was the way to go, I was really opposed to having a nasty scar and a blue face when I was lying in the funeral home.
By involuntarily thinking through all this, the cracks in the facade of being suicidal started to show. I would never do it because of a messy, blood-filled house or because I’m too vain, even in death. That is ridiculous. The entire idea started to feel more like a very dark movie script than an actual, real-life plan. The other thing was figuring out why I would do it. In much the same way, I wanted my suicide note to be considered well written, witty, and maybe even understandable. No matter how hard I tried to come up with valid reasons, none of them seemed good enough. No money? That is fixable. Debt? What’s the worst that could happen? Court-mandated financial aid? Still better than dying. Issues with friends, family, ambition, success, shame, hurt, or work? Nothing was unsolvable or replaceable. No reason to end it. When you are so dark that you get to the point of suicidal thoughts, but you can’t think of any good reasons to take your own life, then the whole concept of suicide becomes kind of useless. Going through this entire thought process, I have actually proved to myself that life was very much worth living. After that, my darkness became a bit less dark, and it gave me some peace of mind that I didn’t have to be afraid of my own mind when it got really dark because I allowed myself to fully explore the worst part. And I came out on the other side, alive and feeling victorious. It’s a very private, twisted version of comforting and helping yourself. By no means do I encourage anyone to try this. However, when it does happen, you have a clear idea of your intentions when things get really dark. I was lucky enough to find out that I could not answer the ‘why’ and ‘how’ but if you can answer all of those than you know it is time to sound the alarm and get help. The worst thing to do is hide it and one day find yourself in the position where you surprise yourself with enough darkness to actually go through with it.
To recap: Don’t inherently be scared or ashamed of this way of thinking, because in some cases, it might actually help a little bit. But act accordingly. No matter what the outcome of your ‘plan’ might be, tell someone and reach out. As hard as it may be, talking about this with someone is very important. You are way too valuable, and there is more than enough strength in you to make it to every next day.
Number three: Redecorating the front of a BMW.
Oddly enough, I think this is one of the scariest ones.
I’m quite confident in saying that everyone who is on my level of darkness lives with this. And it’s a very odd way of thinking. At some point I caught myself, at random times, thinking that I really wouldn’t mind if I was walking along the streets and some people moving a piano to the fourth floor, lost their grip of the rope and in a very melodic way would merge the piano, me and the pavement into one single entity. It was an odd realization that for some time now, I might actually be thankful for a lethal accident. It wouldn’t be by choice, it wouldn’t be my fault, and it would not be a burden of helplessness on my family and friends. It would just be a happy little accident (not a Bob Ross one) that would end all my problems.
This did really freak me out for a bit. Was I okay with my life ending? Maybe. Maybe it would be a sweet relief, not planned, not motivated, just another random thing that happened in life. I’m not hoping for this to happen, but to this day, I still find myself escaping to this disturbing acceptance of something like that happening. Being okay with a faultless death is a really freaky feeling. After I got accustomed to this idea, it morphed into another feeling as well. It would be relatively easy to manufacture or arrange a situation where an accident might happen. Maybe I make sure to always walk near people moving heavy objects, step on every sewer grate that might collapse, cross paths with all the black cats in my neighborhood to rack up the bad luck superstition, or say fuck it and pick up skydiving as a hobby. Aside from relying on being (un)lucky, there is also another option where justice will be on my side. If I’m on a crosswalk and some idiot in a BMW is approaching way too fast, I would normally go with: ‘better safe than sorry’ and let him pass. On the other hand, I could just take my chances. Step out into the street, after all, I have the right of way, and see what happens. With no fault of my own, I could change the paintwork on this assholes car and end all my problems as well. A literal interpretation of killing two birds with one stone.
As this entire scenario plays out in my head, the BMW is long gone, and I’m still standing on the sidewalk. It was never a real option, but the thought is very telling. I’ll never take that step, but I have realized that this idea of death as a solution has become at least one of the contenders for the cure. Although the main feeling here is that you wouldn’t mind if things were to end and creating those opportunities for yourself will only stay a weird little fantasy, it does create a very slippery slope towards actual life-threatening situations. You become desensitized to the entire concept of death. It’s not a very time consuming suicidal thought but, most of these ideas only last a split second, but sadly if that happens at the wrong time, when darkness and this idea coincide, a split second can be all it takes. Once again, and I can’t stress this enough, the only way to get rid of this is by being open about it. If you can normalize thinking of death, then you can also normalize talking about it. One leads to dying, and one leads to living. You know what to choose.
Number four: I’m going to end it.
I’ll keep this one short. I have actually thought about doing it for real. In the five to seven years, when I got really dark, it has crossed my mind for a total of about three full seconds. In really, really dark times, I could not escape myself considering it. But those moments were so short and absolutely terrifying that it never stuck with me longer than half a second at a time. It’s hard to admit because it was never a real option, but you can’t control where your mind goes too from time to time.
If, at any point in your life, you have spent more than half a second a year considering suicide, reach out to someone. A psychologist, a friend, your family, or one of the many awesome suicide prevention hotlines. Hell, I’m fucked up as well, but reach out to me. There will never be a moment where my problems will ever be more important than your life. And know that this is true for everyone you know. Reach out.
“Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.”
Side note: That one BIG scary question
I couldn’t find a way to integrate this into the main chapter, but it’s really important to mention because this is a big part of the seemingly opposite reasoning that occurs in times like this.
After talking about this with people and while reading up on this subject, I came across a lot of reasons someone might use as to why someone should not kill themselves. All of these reasons are sound and valid advice and make complete sense, IF you are not dealing with suicidal thoughts. Things along the lines of:
‘You have so much to live for.’
‘Think of your mother.’
‘Think of all the things you could do in life.’
‘We are all here for you.’
Undoubtedly these are well-intentioned, good-hearted, honest opinions, but one crucial thing to note is that being suicidal usually pairs up with the feeling that you are a burden to the people around you. You feel like you are letting everyone down, and everyone is worried about you.
People who are suicidal have to live with themselves, and they start to truly believe that the world and their surroundings would be better off if they weren’t there. Reminding someone of the potential they feel they cannot reach, or the hurt they might be causing is not a helpful statement. They are all valid points, but you’re looking at it from a different perspective. Whenever you try to help someone, make sure you steer clear of any sense of blame. I myself have been in a place where I would consider myself a nuisance to my surroundings and conforming that will only add fuel to the fire. Furthermore, the notion that a psychologist or friends and family will immediately commit you to a mental institution is not true. The best thing you could do for someone who struggles with suicidal thoughts is to give them space to talk about it without immediate repercussions. Afterward, you, your friends, family, and/or professionals can draw up a plan of how to handle this situation.
Hang the fuck in there. And talk about it.