The first time I called a suicide hotline was when I was eight.
They were clueless and ended up soliciting me for donations, and I couldn’t explain to my parents why they were suddenly receiving literature on depression in the mail for the next few weeks. The hotline’s ineptitude actually angered me enough that I was able to externalize my feelings away from myself long enough to see the next day. I’ll have to admit that their failure yielded an accidental success.
At 20, I hooked up a vacuum hose to my car exhaust and snaked it into the bathroom adjacent the garage. I was maybe an hour in when I was interrupted and taken away. Recovery from CO2 poisoning is brutal, to say the least. Imagine your worst hangover ever, then multiply it by a thousand and add in endless dry heaving.
At 22, I took every pill bottle in the cabinet and combined them in a 32oz cup from Taco John’s. I walked around the house, casually drinking them down and then laid in bed. Since my Major wasn’t in chemistry, it’s inevitable that I didn’t get the right mix to do as intended, so I ended up laying in bed, staring at the ceiling, and feeling my body tingle for a few days. I vaguely recollect people standing over me, berating me, but I was high as a kite and didn’t process them nor care.
There were false attempts a couple of times as well, but those never any real danger. Those were simple cries for help that I wouldn’t have gone through with. The good news is that I never went that route ever again. It’s been over 20 years since, and I know myself better than ever. Suicide is just an unthinkable solution for me, and I don’t even bat a single eyelash at Death, much less court her anymore. I’m happy to say that I have a lot of wrinkles to grow, hair to lose, and eyesight to diminish before I check out, and when I do, Death will need to drag me away kicking and screaming. I plan to watch the 100th Star Wars film, listen to whatever permutation of Heavy Metal exists in the 22nd Century, and hopefully play hacky sack on Martian soil. I don’t have time to die.
Do these facts shock you? Good. I really want your attention for this part.
The point of all of this is, I UNDERSTAND.
Do I know your specific circumstances? No. Have I been lost in the same labyrinth of hopelessness? Maybe. I may not have followed the same road, or been made victim the same way, or experienced anything like what you have, but I’ve been to those dark and bumpy places that roads sometimes go. I’ve stared down the barrel of oblivion, and survived. Not through strength or willpower, but mostly just dumb luck each time. My outlook changed with age, thank goodness, but it was very touch-and-go there for a long, long time.
Last night I lost another friend to suicide. He was a friendly, sweet guy, and nobody saw it coming. He had plans, jokes, and dreams, so we didn’t know what demons he wrestled with inside. He hid it well. This makes 4 friends to kill themselves just in the past 2 years. The total family and friends I’ve lost in that way has become more than I want to think about.
I can’t offer solutions. I’m not a fount of wisdom. I can only offer perspective, and an open ear to listen. I might not agree with you, but I’ll always be here when you need that voice on the other end of the line. But no matter what, when you’re that deep in a hole, and you think no one can hear you, call out. Call me, message me, email me, whatever you can do. And if not me, then call someone else. Say hello to a friend from high school, or check in on a distant cousin. Try a hotline. It might be a good one, or if it sucks, then at least it keeps you talking. We may not have a cure, but all you need is to see the next dawn, and then one more after that. It’s always just one more day, and before you know it 20 years has flown by, and you stopped counting..
Just please, reach your hand up. I promise, someone out there is waiting to pull you up.