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Suicide. My Understanding

One of the strongest taboos in our society is suicide- I've heard that ministers do not want to preside over the funerals, and families do not want to discuss it with outsiders... I admit, my faith prevented me from investigating suicide because I thought it was bad. I never attempted suicide however, I felt like my illness could have made me a victim of it. I am not so judgmental about individuals who attempt suicide. Now, I have a different perspective on suicide, here's why:

Since my diagnosis of schizophrenia I have encountered people of diverse backgrounds- careers, families, faith, and experiences with mental illness, etc. Having a mental illness was my beginning of not being as naive as before about life experiences, and ignorant of understanding our differences. Like being diagnosed with mental illness, the suicide attempt of my family member came unexpectedly to me. When I found out about it I was overwhelmed with a range of emotions- disbelief, guilt, grief, helplessness, and relief that the attempt was not effective. The cause of the suicide attempt was worry over finances, regrets, guilt, and a pessimistic way of thinking. My family member was diagnosed with depression and prescribed antidepressants, which they took, and currently, no longer need. They are striving to work on their finances, forgive them self, and to change their thinking patterns. 

A peer who is also living with mental illness described the way of suicide to me- it is like having a broken leg on top of a deserted mountain without help, and longing to end the pain. In other words, suicide for some may be the only way to end their tormenting mind and symptoms. After they described it to me like this I felt like I had a better understanding of suicide for people living with mental illness. 

Before I was officially diagnosed with schizophrenia, and psychotic, I felt like the devil was communicating with me through the television and radio, encouraging me to commit suicide- I was frightened, worried, and afraid for my life. I believe receiving the diagnosis when I did saved my life! I do not know if I could have continued to fight against the devil's forces which seemed persistent. Despite the messages, I did not attempt suicide. However, I am concerned about peers who struggle with suicidal messages from the voices and other forces, and thoughts. My heart goes out to my peers who are struggling with suicide.

I hope my thoughts on suicide made you consider people with mental illness who attempt and commit it with more sympathy. Suicidal thoughts, plans, and comments should be taken seriously and addressed by a professional. Here is a first step to getting help for yourself or a loved one, call:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

How do you feel about suicide? Why- your faith, upbringing, experience, research, etc. (if you would like to respond, but feel uncomfortable please comment anonymously- your feedback could help someone)

To learn more about schizophrenia visit NAMI, Choices in Recovery, and Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (Canada).


Chris said…
Hi Ashley,

I have no tolerance for the anti-psychiatry crowd that claims medication is not ever necessary at all.

How do they propose we treat suicidal ideation and the after-effect of suicide attempts?

The Rita Project in New York City is a non-profit art colony for survivors of suicide and their families to create artwork in a healing space to recover and heal.

I won a volunteer of the year award and was given artwork by a Rita Project member.

If you want to understand what goes on I can recommend a novel, The Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate an African American writer.

Although the book is fiction the characters are more real than people in real life.

It's a heartbreaking story and I won't reveal the ending.

Yet reading it renders in photographic detail what goes on when a person is struggling with a mental illness like an addiction.

The Taste of Salt should be required reading even though it's fiction.

Addiction is no joke. Mental illnesses are real medical conditions.

You want to impress me: have compassion for those of us who have crossed over and lived to tell. Have compassion for those of us who will not recover.

Have compassion for those of us who attempted or commit suicide.

Anonymous said…
My boyfriend is diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and attempted suicide a month and a half ago by jumping out of a car I was driving. I felt guilty because I felt like I was partially to blame because we weren't getting along well and I wasn't being as patient as I usually am. I pushed my feelings aside to help him heal and still haven't fully dealt with it. He goes to therapy every week and last week he got connected with a peer specialist. He struggles with drug addiction as well and his peer specialist hooked him up with an NA group with members who live with mental illness as well so he can better relate to them. He is working on his recovery and I am proud of him. Your blog really helps both him and I. Thank you.

Matt said…
Maybe they can't find a way out that's why they commit suicide. Don't they treasure their loved ones, their friends who care for them? I think they are so depressed that they can't see the way out or love their lives. They are blinded. Need to love them and encourage them. And spot the warning signs.
Ashley Smith said…
Hi Chris,

Thank you for the reading recommendation- I agree with your compassion for people who have committed suicide and attempted.

Hi Nicole,

I am glad your boyfriend is getting more support. Thank you for reading my blog- don't hesitate to ask me a question.

Hi Matt,

I agree- we need to catch the warning signs and to nourish our relationships by letting others know we care.

Thank you,
Ashley Smith
Lils said…
Hi Ashley,

I came across your blog after reading your post on Huffington recently. Somehow, as I woke up in the middle of the night, from another nightmare, I came across this particular post.

Thank you for addressing this topic.

Less than a month ago, my partner who recently shared his delusions and hallucinations to me, ended his life. This led to my own brief psychotic breakdown, catatonic depression and suicidal delusions. I have had chronic depression nearly all my life but have managed it for a few years. The things I experienced after his death was all new to me and with the love and support of family and friends and a wonderful psychologist, I am optimistic about my recovery.

My partner's family has still been in denial about his schizophrenia diagnosis. As a med student, who has become obsessed with reading as much as I can about this disease, I believe his tragedy could have been prevented if everyone was honest about his disease; and wasn't concerned with the stigma behind it.

I want to thank you for being vocal about your disease; and breaking down the misconceptions of it. It takes strength and courage. I hope I can take my experience and my partner's unfortunate tragedy, for a greater good.

Best of luck in all your endeavors,

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