Suicide trigger warning
Last night I was helping support someone who was very suicidal. Someone for whom there was lots of thoughts of different suicidal actions and those thoughts were getting too much to bear. Someone who had plans and who appeared to be an immediate danger to themselves, as they seemed likely to act out those plans.
It’s a really terrible place to be. I remember being there and how tormented I was and for someone who has not been there it’s probably really difficult to imagine quite how awful this must feel..
Ok back to the point of this story…
Well I did a course this week in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). When trying to help this person last night what I had learned at the course was at the forefront of my mind.
But stronger than that is giving my heart to the situation. For me it’s not primarily about following a set plan in carrying out a suicide intervention. My heart guides me a lot too.
Which is why when I remembered something that helped me a lot when I was suicidal I decided to share it with this person. And it seemed to help the situation quite a bit.
It was this:
When I was really unwell, when I was constantly very suicidal, my CPN made this suggestion to me:
How about every day you say to yourself ‘I’m not saying I won’t ever take my own life my suicide, but I won’t do it today’.
For me that helped tremendously. I wasn’t commiting to never taking my own life by suicide. But each day I would agree that I wouldn’t do it that day.
They do say ‘take one day at a time’ after all.
And slowly but surely each day passed and days turned into weeks which turned into months… and it took what felt like a long time, but I did actually reach the point where I decided:
‘I refuse to die by suicide. I know that my illness means that I will likely continue to feel suicidal from time to time in the future, but I refuse to give in to those thoughts. I refuse to be a suicide statistic. I want to be so much more’.
But I couldn’t just wake up one morning and decide that. It was through taking each day at a time, and each day agreeing not to do it that day that I eventually got to the point where I decided not to ever do it.
Not everyone will get to the point where they decide not to ever take their own life by suicide.
Some people might never get to that point.
But you don’t have to get to that point. You don’t have to ever agree never to decide by suicide.
If every day you make a conscious decision of: ‘I’m not saying I won’t ever do it, but I won’t do it today’, then it doesn’t matter if you never agree to never do it.
Yes I know it is not as easy as it seems. Being actively suicidal is hell. It really is. And there will be times when it really is unbearable to continue living. I can’t make that go away. I don’t know if anyone can for sure.
But as a suicidal person you are always in control – even though there are times when it feels like that is far from being the case – and if agreeing not to act on those thoughts today gets you through as many days as possible, that is a good thing.
As for the person I was trying to help last night?
I am sure they are still feeling suicidal. But I see that they made it through the night that is what matters.
And best of all? They said that they liked this idea, that it helps and that they are going to hang it up as a reminder int heir room. That reminder will just say: ‘I will not do it today‘, vague enough that it will not be obvious to anyone who sees it that it relates to suicide.
I hope that this idea helps some of you. And if you think it might help someone who you know, please do pass it on.
Filed under: suicide