Have you ever had suicidal thoughts and made a plan?
Hands up if you’ve ever had suicidal thoughts and had a plan, or know someone who has! Okay, so today is World Suicide Prevention Day, one day that observes the commitment to remove the social stigma around discussions on suicide.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that each year approximately one million people die from suicide, one death every 40 seconds. It’s predicted that by 2020 the rate of death will increase to one every 20 seconds. And this was before we’d heard of Covid. Still, that makes approximately two millions deaths each year, and we choose to observe this fact only one day each year?
Still, once a year has to be better than not at all. I’m delighted to learn that it’s rather different in the USA. They have a National Suicide Prevention Month. During this time, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies, and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness.
Mind you, is it any wonder as more than 45,000 people die each year by suicide in America?
My interest in suicide prevention
You might wonder why my interest in this particular subject. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll already know that I have a rare and invisible physical disability called Transverse Myelitis. It comes with many and varied symptoms, some of which are:
- muscle weakness in the arms/legs, causing mobility problems
- uncomfortable nerve sensations, neuropathic pain, spasticity
- pain and discomfort, sensory symptoms such as numbness or tingling
- bladder dysfunction and/or bowel motility problems and sexual dysfunction
- muscle spasms in arms and legs
- depression and anxiety caused by lifestyle changes, stress, and chronic pain
On March 31st 2011, my entire life changed overnight. Everything from being unable to attend to my hygiene needs to being medically retired from a job that I loved. I was devastated. I hated being disabled. And I was so damn angry at the world, and everyone in it. I was severely depressed and if had to stay like that forever, I was going to kill myself. I felt suicidal — again!
On this very day last year, I shared my history of mental illness publicly, and for the first time. What began as a one off post, turned into a series, which I’ve still to finish — one year later. However, I’ve had a few physical and mental setbacks over the last few months and my mood has taken a massive nosedive. And I just can’t shake it off, despite copious amounts of medication, and all my training, knowledge and skills in mental health.
Suicidal thoughts and me
Anxiety and depression have set in and suicidal thoughts have managed to penetrate my age old barriers, permeating every pore. That little devil is sitting on my shoulder, whispering loudly “Everyone would be better of without you,” or “You are disgusting,” together with expletives and vile threats. And I wonder why other people can’t hear him. Maybe they can, and perhaps they agree with him, or they’re telling him to say all this?
Only it’s not a little devil, it’s not the devil’s voice. It’s the gravelly, rasping and hissing voice of my abuser, my step-grandad. I know not why his disgusting diatribe appears when it does. All I know is that he makes me sick, despite the fact he’s been dead for some years now. And no, in his case, I have no respect for the dead.
Now, he’ll never know the devastating effects of his sick and twisted sexual urges, and how I can’t sleep, or if I do, how the nightmares wake me up screaming cotton mouthed and struggling to breathe.
He’ll never know about the lost years of my life where I felt hurt, confused and angry. Or how much that’s impacted on areas of my life, like when a word, touch or simple movement interrupts an intimate moment. But perhaps this is another post.
I’ve never been much of a believer, but sometimes I wish I had an angel on my opposite shoulder berating that sick pervert. Better still, punching his lights out and telling him he’s wrong, and to leave this beautiful soul alone.
Too young to be suicidal
Suicidal thoughts have plagued me since I was eleven years old. I didn’t quite grasp the whole concept of suicidal ideation or completion, I just knew I didn’t want to be alive. I think that because I had therapy as an adult, and I have my nursing skills, I’ve been able to ignore these thoughts — to some degree sometimes.
However, on bad days and times like this, it feels like I’m standing on a skinny ledge, and any slight change in the wind’s going to tip me over the edge.
Yes, I can talk about it on my blog, in comments on other blogs, I can tell hubby or friends that’s how I feel. Then there’s a great gush of sudden wisdom, all the platitudes, the well-meaning, but empty words. “I know how you feel,” or “You’ve got through this before,” and “You’re strong, you can do this.”
Well get this. I don’t feel f*cking strong. I’m tired of being f*cking strong. So f*ck off somewhere else with your bullsh*t and when you get there, f*ck off some more. And if you feel like judging, get this — Why don’t you take the f*cking plank out of your own damn eyes, before you take the splinter out of mine?
Suicidal planning and risk assessment
As a mental health nurse and ward manager, the ability to carry out a suicidal risk assessment is an important skill, the purpose of which is to:
- Establish the patient’s intent/plan.
- Do they know what method they’ll use i.e. overdose, jump from a bridge, gun or other lethal methods.
- Do they have the means by which to carry out their plan, i.e. stockpiled medication, locality or ability to get to a high bridge, do they have access to a gun. Always ask whether “if we could take your pain and suffering away, would you still want to die.
- Assess the seriousness and perceived seriousness of their attempt, i.e. the middle-aged, middle-classed, white lady living in London who says she’s going to shoot herself – would she know how to access a gun or how to use it? This would reduce the seriousness somewhat.
- When will they carry this plan out i.e. is there a birthday or a date coming up which reminds them of something sad or makes them angry, or will it be on impulse.
- Assess how they feel about the attempt at the time of assessment, i.e. asking something like “How do you feel knowing what you’re going to do?”
- Find out if they have anything to look forward to i.e. long-awaited holiday in the Caribbean.
Covering these points allowed me to make an adequate assessment of risk.
“Warning, do not try this at home. The above techniques are to be used by medical and nursing professionals only”Caz
My suicide plan
Whoops, I went off on a tangent there. But I suppose all that plays a role in my current dilemma. Looking back at the risk assessment I can see that I
- have the intent and plan
- have various means and methods, like bags full of medication, and I live on the 12th floor of my block, right opposite tube and train stations
- feel that over the last week, the pressure has been mounting and if tonight, I have more horrific nightmares or can’t sleep, the seriousness increases
- don’t have a specific date and I know it would be impulsive
- am not sure how I feel. I don’t want to think or feel — anything, so I don’t try to
- probably have thing I could look forward to, but I don’t really care one way or another
Hubby thinks the weekend away with friends, that he’s planned, is going to help. And it might. It might help me forget — for a while — and
a few ten glasses of wine almost certainly will — short term.
Older lady seeks weekend fun
Okay, enough already! Stop the pity party! I hear you say. And I agree, cos even I get on my own nerves. Now I know I won’t be attempting to die by suicide anytime this week, perhaps my brain will switch off and give me some respite.
Rather than sitting indoors alone at my laptop, I’ll be engaging in some happy and no doubt funny conversations with my cousins and their partners. Hopefully, during those forty-eight hours where we’ll be sipping on cocktails and dining by barbeque, my brain will reboot and remind me what fun is.