Survivor guilt; a visceral animal that silently gnaws at a survivor after a loved one has committed suicide.
After the fact, the survivor looks back and agonizes over what they could have done to help;
“I could’ve been a better friend,
I could’ve been a better sister (brother, mother, father…)
I could’ve done more to show that I cared,
I could’ve done more to help if I had known.”
As someone who has attempted suicide, who has been immersed in darkness and doom, there is really nothing that anyone can do once the decision has been made.
Suicide prevention and intervention are at best temporary measures to stall a tidal wave. It’s a strip of bandage on a gushing wound.
There is really nothing that can be done to prevent a determined suicide short of putting the person under suicide watch.
When the Depression comes, it is all consuming. There is no logic, no love, no light, no sense of right or wrong, and no sense of up or down, there is only abysmal pain and despair. Nothing anyone does is going to make any difference to that mental state of mind. All those promises and contracts made in therapy not to hurt yourself, or to call someone when you feel that you will hurt yourself, those are the farthest things from the mind in the grips of mental anguish.
My attempts to commit suicide were not successful (else I would be dead and not writing this article), not because of what someone else did to stop me or to help me. They were feeble and ineffectual attempts because I was young and ignorant. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know how to kill myself properly, and I bungled it. How totally inadequate of me.
The next time will be the last time, because now I know what to do. Now I am older and wiser. I know my plan is fail-proof. It is lethal. I am not young nor am I ignorant anymore. Suicide is no longer my cry for help, it is because I want to die. My plan can be executed regardless of external intervention or prevention. It’s just a matter of when. My husband knows this, he knows my plan.
So when I see all the awareness on Suicide Prevention the powers that be are propagating,
I am not convinced.
I applaud the good intentions, the efforts, commitment and desire to help.
But I see reality a little differently.
Honestly, do you really think that removing potential poisons, ropes and sharp objects are going be effective in preventing anything, if the person has made their decision to commit suicide?
I see this as merely a coping tool for friends and family to feel less helpless, to have something they can do, anything they can do, to help.
A dear friend of mine was completely ignorant that her beloved teenage daughter was hiding a razor blade in her room.
For a $1.50 at Walmart, anyone can buy a blade knife, complete with small plastic handle so no need to worry it will become too slippery to handle when drenched in blood.
This tormented teenager cut herself for months, and no one had any idea that she had been doing it.
To this day, the parents do not know.
I am the only one she trusted enough to tell.
That razor could have easily sliced through vital blood vessels if she was so inclined. She would have had privacy to do so, because in our society, we give our teenagers the right to close their bedroom door and shut out the world.
Robin Williams hung himself, while his wife was in the house. It takes at least 5 to 15 minutes of asphyxiation to die by hanging, unless the neck is broken immediately. He had not been on suicide watch. He was found dead.
The suicidal mind just wants the pain and suffering to end. No one would know unless they had cried out for help, unless the warning signs were so obvious that they could not be ignored (for instance; stumbling out of their bedroom and announcing to a house full of family and friends that they have taken a bottle of pills; this actually happened with a family member).
Even then, everyone has their own lives to live, their own burdens to bear. They cannot be expected to sit on suicide watch for their mentally unstable sister, daughter, friend…
My doctor told me to go to the hospital if I feel like I am going to kill myself.
I just have to shake my head at that.
I have lived with this condition long enough to know that feeling like I want to kill myself is part of my daily life.
If I am going to kill myself, I probably will. And it’s not going to be with sharp objects, or poisonous substances, or the ghastly rope.
Would my friends and family have survivor guilt?
Would they regret that they didn’t do more to prevent it?
Could they have done anything to prevent it?
And no. I am not going to kill myself today.