July 7, 2021
Disclaimer: SickNotWeak does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content contains explicit and sensitive information that may not be suitable for all ages.
When the call came from the police officer, I was ecstatic. They had found our 20-year-old daughter, Lisa, who had been lost in the woods for the past three hours. Then he told me there had been a very serious suicide attempt, which he described as “by a lethal means.” Luck was on her side, he exclaimed. Many aren’t so lucky. She didn’t have a change of heart, but luck did. I couldn’t believe it. How could my loving, talented daughter want to die? Why didn’t she come to us for help? Why didn’t we notice anything different?
This is what Lisa told us in the following days and years after her suicide attempt: “I didn’t want to die; I just wanted this pain to stop. I was convinced I was a burden on my family and friends, and they would be better off without me. When I would have the thought that I should tell someone what’s going on, I also had the thought that no one could help, there wasn’t any help, or it wouldn’t make any difference. I had the continuing thought that it wasn’t going to get any better. These thoughts had been around for a long time, maybe years. The thoughts in my head were very convincing.”
I just wanted this pain to stop.
How could this be? She was definitely not a burden to our family. We loved her above and beyond. If she asked for help, we would all be there for her – no rock unturned. We would not be better off without her; our lives would be never the same. How could she have spent six years having suicidal thoughts and not once shared with us? How did this happen?
Lisa was the second born in our family of four children. Around the time she turned 14, her mood changed. The happy go lucky, energy-infused child was changing. Not wanting to hang out with her friends, staying in her room for long stretches of time, and hating school, which she once loved. When it didn’t pass, we took her to the doctor and she was diagnosed depression. There were lots of ups and downs but we certainly didn’t see her suicide attempt coming.
In the months and years that followed Lisa’s suicide attempt, she has taught us what the road to recovery looks like. She has experienced many things the system has to offer, including hospitalization in a mental health unit, adult day programming, emergency department crisis, mental health counseling, and doctor visits. Besides the help from the system, she continues to do everything she can herself to stay well. She takes her medications, keeps her appointments, gets enough sleep, exercises, and is mindful. Make no mistake, the road to recovery still has good days and bad days, but she has figured out a rhythm that works for her. We will be forever grateful.
But why, why does this keep happening?
Being a metal health advocate is something I didn’t set out to do. But something keeps gnawing inside me every day of my life since April 23, 2011. What can we do so suicide never happens to Lisa or anyone else? What I did learn was on the topic of suicide, there is a surprisingly large volume of research. There are many caring mental health professionals. Treatments are developing all the time with increasing success rates. There are suicide attempt survivors who have taught us so much. But why, why does this keep happening? What can we do to stop it? Then it hit me like a ton of bricks, the most painful truth I have ever faced in my life; we can’t do it alone, everyone has to help.
Excerpt from the book: Send Suicide Packing – There’s Something We All Can Do To Help. Link here.
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