This year, September 14 to 28 marks National Suicide Prevention Week – an event I would have missed if it was not for the acuity and understanding of a friend who experienced a suicide in his family. He recognized my suicidal feelings, talked to me about the loss of his daughter, and got me to think rationally about my situation and go for help. I was lucky I found someone to talk to.
Suicidal feelings can happen to anyone, anytime. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States with one suicide occurring on average every 13.3 minutes. It is the second leading cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds. Approximately 987,950 Americans die of suicide each year.
My story started innocently enough. I was taking a new medication, one that I had never taken before. It had a side effect of suicidal thoughts, but it was rare and I wasn’t aware of it. What I did know was that a few weeks after taking the medicine, I had a plan to end my life all worked out, had picked the time, the method, the place – I was ready to go.
I didn’t question why I felt like ending my life. I just knew that I was in intense emotional pain and I had to end it, any way I could. Earlier in my life I had a problem with suicidal feelings and even attempted several times to end my life, so it seemed a natural course of action to me. I didn’t question why, all of a sudden, I was in so much pain I wanted to die. Nothing had really changed in my life, no relationship problems, difficulties on the job, or anything. I just wanted to die.
I was lucky to run into a suicide survivor who recognized my state of mind and together we figured out that what had changed in my life was the medication, and I needed to call my doctor immediately. I did. He told me about the side effect, and I stopped the medication immediately. In a few days, I was fine.
It was a close call. That is what people who are feeling discouraged or thinking about ending their lives need to do: make a call to a trained, sympathetic person who can help you make sense of your feelings and put you on the right track.
Editor: Annie Wu
Editor: Andrew Haveron