I’ve seen suicide from different angles. I was married to a woman who’s brother committed suicide. I was also coerced into a marriage with suicide threats and attempts. I’ve seen first-hand a family devastated by the loss of a loved one. I’ve also been devastated by a young woman so desperate not to be alone that she repeatedly threatened, and once attempted, to commit suicide.
When I began blogging four (wow, it’s been four years now) years ago, I had a pretty different view of suicide than I have now. I viewed suicidal people with scorn. I had no respect for anyone considering suicide. Suicide had been used as a tool to manipulate me. I had lingering anger towards my ex-wife for using suicide as a tool to control me. I was angry with my brother-in-law for hurting my wife, his family, and his friends by voluntarily leaving this world. I was angry I could not ease the pain in which my wife was perpetually drowning. I had never stopped to look at suicide from the point of view of the person committing (or trying to commit) suicide. I saw only the consequences. I therefore considered suicide a selfish act committed by selfish people.
“Did you really want to die?”
“No one commits suicide because they want to die.”
“Then why do they do it?”
“Because they want to stop the pain.”
In August of 2012, depression came crashing back into my life like the bar crowd into a Waffle House at 2 in the morning. I began to open up about myself and my depression on my blog, and other bloggers who had similar issues found me shared their experiences with me.
It was just what I needed.
I’ve connected with many people in the last two years who suffer from PTSD, bipolar, and chronic depression. Many of them have attempted suicide, or at the very least have had suicidal thoughts. Hearing their stories, and understanding the misery in which they were encaged when they made their attempts was eye-opening. In my darkest hours, in my bleakest moments, I could see why someone would consider suicide. Luckily, I’ve never considered it. Just the thought of doing that to my children stops me cold. I could never purposefully scar them like that. I just can’t. If there’s one silver lining I can point to over these past couple years of emotional instability, drunkenness, self-destruction, and living on the edge, it’s that I never once considered taking my life.
I’ve been walking for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention since 2007. When I began, my sole purpose was to support my wife as she did what she felt she needed to do to keep what happened to her from happening to others. It was her way of coping with her crippling loss. However, since my depression intensified, since getting to know so many people who suffer and have attempted to end their lives, I began walking for my own reasons. Those reasons still include my former brother-in-law. They also include the twins’ mother, who used suicide to blackmail me into marrying her. They include her sister, who attempted suicide while stricken with the guilt after having an abortion. They include all of you who suffer from addiction, mental illness, or both.
The purpose of the Out of the Darkness walks are two-fold. The first is, obviously, to raise money. The money raised funds services for people who are suffering, whether they are the one contemplating suicide or they have a loved one who committed suicide. The money raised also funds research into mental illness, the leading cause of suicide. The second reason for the walks is to get people talking about suicide. To bring awareness to a dark subject. Hence the name Out of the Darkness.
Did you know?
- Suicide takes the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans every year.
- Many who attempt suicide never seek professional care.
- There are twice as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.
- Between 1952 and 1995, suicide in young adults nearly tripled.
- Over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65.
- In the month prior to their suicide, 75% of elderly persons had visited a physician.
- Suicide rates in the United States are highest in the spring.
- Over half of all suicides are completed with a firearm.
- For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
- Suicide rates among the elderly are highest for those who are divorced or widowed.
- 80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.
- 15% of those who are clinically depressed die by suicide.
- There are an estimated 8 to 25 attempted suicides to 1 completion.
- The highest suicide rate is among men over 85 years old: 65 per 100,000 persons.
- 1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 die by suicide each year.
- Substance abuse is a risk factor for suicide.
- The strongest risk factor for suicide is depression.
- In 2011, 39,518 people died by suicide. (CDC)
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. (homicide is 16th). (CDC)
- It is estimated that there are at least 4.5 million survivors in this country. (AAS)
- An average of one person dies by suicide every 13.3 minutes. (CDC, AAS)
- There are four male suicides for every female suicide. (CDC, AAS)
- Research has shown medications and therapy to be effective suicide prevention.
- Suicide can be prevented through education and public awareness.
- In 2004 it is estimated there were 811,000 suicide attempts in the US. (AAS)
- There are three female suicide attempts for each male attempt. (CDC, AAS)
The walk here in Cincinnati is in two weeks. I will be attending, as I always do. I am, however, soliciting donations on the AFSP website for just my second year. If you can spare the time and money, I encourage you to make a donation to this very worthy cause. If you are strapped for cash like myself and many others, spreading the word would be just as awesome. I would also encourage you to find an AFSP chapter near you to find out how you can contribute.
For addition facts on suicide, click here.