One of the most difficult tasks you may face will be answering questions people will ask about your suicide attempt. The shame, guilt, and confusion can make it tough to speak about it with others. These feelings may feel magnified if people don’t respond to your attempt in a supportive way.
To make it easier, the Lifeline asked people to share stories about their experiences telling someone in their life about their attempts.
Anna & Her Husband
The most difficult conversation I had regarding my attempt was with my husband. He happens to be an incredibly open and affectionate individual who saw me as a very strong source of happiness in his life. I felt that sharing my suicide attempt would show a part of me that would cause me to no longer be the bright spot in his life. I never wanted to be the person that could take happiness away from anyone. I always wanted to be a source and example of happiness. Once I began to talk about it, I found that he loved me more for being open and honest. In turn, I felt empowered by not being afraid or ashamed of sharing my attempt. He has been a pillar of strength and support in my journey.
Joe & His Best Friend
I was afraid to tell my best friend about my attempt, because unlike my therapists and doctors, he might think I was such a handful and wouldn’t want to bother being my friend anymore. I was so worried that he would start treating me differently because he would be afraid that something he would say or do would send me into a depression. I felt it was best to tell him what I had been going through because I still see a therapist every other week and just tell him I have a doctor’s appointment. A few months ago he started to get really worried I was sick because of all my appointments. I felt so vulnerable telling him, but he stuck by my side and said he was happy I’m his friend.
Melanie & Her Mom
No parent wants to hear that their child was in so much pain that they tried to kill themselves. It was also hard to talk to my mom because I was scared of how she’d react due to generational differences. I wondered if she’d lose trust in me, or if she would blame herself and think it had something to do with her parenting, which it didn’t. Talking about my attempt helped me heal, especially because for years I’ve been actively encouraging people to be honest and share their stories while I was silent about my own. I wasn’t living according to my beliefs, which left a big hole in my life.
Ashley & Her Roommate
The hardest conversation was actually with my first college roommate. I decided it was important to tell her about my mental illness in case I became depressed and made another attempt. However, at that point in time, the stigma against mental illness was even greater than it is today and she was terrified for a few days. Talking about my attempt helped those around me to heal- my family and friends who had decided that it was somehow their fault needed to hear, from me, that it wasn’t.