I have a real pet peeve about saying that people who talk about suicide just want attention like it is a bad thing. Attention is not a bad thing (do not tell my therapist...he will use it against me) and all behavior is communication and usually indicates a need, so they need attention. But, let's get specific what type someone to talk to, a companion, someone to play a game with, someone to help them with their medications, someone to help them with something...it is always a an indication of a want or need that they find this is the only way that they can express it. What are they really trying to say.”
For me, my whole life has been impacted by “just for attention, it is not that bad, she has always been dramatic.” This is especially so when it came to suicidal thoughts and behavior. I have lived with suicidal thoughts my whole life (first active memory at age two). I won’t go into the details here and the younger thoughts were not really formed, but just a sense of not wanting to be. I knew that this was not normal, but I felt like I was defective.
After more than 18 years of active therapy, group therapy, and four hospitalizations, I still have constant thoughts of suicide. My brain automatically goes there and under stress and especially highly emotional events I feel like I need to die. I now know that it is my saying that "I am in pain," "I'm hopeless," or "I need some help." This all is rooted in my childhood trauma.
In high school, I took an overdose of Tylenol before church, so my friend’s parents took me to the hospital and called my mother. My mother and step-father proceeded to yell at me about being stupid, etc… My mother was hysterical and angry and yelling at me. The emergency staff led them out of the room to my relief. I was released and my mother was told to take me to see a therapist who I saw twice. I told him I was fine and just wanted some attention. He just took at that and I never saw him again. (I now know that he was sort of incompetent especially working with teenagers). Just adds to my brain that wanting attention is not important. Also, my mother never talked about it again…to this day. She can’t even handle that I’m in therapy and not working. If I bring it up I get ignored.
A few months after that, two of my friends approached my mother and told her that they thought I was suicidal. Well, my mother dismissed them saying, “Well, CC has always been dramatic. She should have been an actress. She is just fine, but thank you for your concern.” Right now, I can barely feel the pain of the disappointment that maybe this once she will listen to someone else.
In college, I began seeing the therapist I now see and it took me over a year to tell him that I even had a suicidal thought. Sometimes I “forget” to tell him and try to handle it on my own just like before. And my head and feelings go, “he doesn’t believe me, he thinks I’m being manipulative or dramatic, he is going to yell at me or hit me, it isn’t that big of a deal, and I’m fine, I should not have talked about it.” My therapist takes me seriously and am encouraged to talk about it which is such a relief to me. My therapist does not over react and he trusts me and we do talk about whether hospitalization is necessary. Most of the time, it isn’t but he and I monitor the situation. After 25 years, it feels so good to finally be heard!!!
Please, read the rest of the week if you want to learn more about what signs there are, how to help and places to go for more information. To obtain immediate assistance always call 911, in the US, for assistance. There are some worldwide contact information as well on the side bar with links with more information.