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Suicide: How I Manage My Dark Spaces

If you are having thoughts of suicide, or need help supporting a loved one, you are not alone. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers help 24x7; call the hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741-741 for the Crisis Text Line.

I was five when suicide became an option. I lived in abuse and wanted out – even if that meant death. Though my attempt failed, it wasn’t the last time I looked to suicide for relief. Though I’m now far from childhood and have been safe from abuse for nearly 20 years, I still sometimes find myself in this dark space that often feels only death will relieve. The difference now is that I’ve learned some things to help keep me from taking suicidal action.

Everyone’s personal survival strategy will be specific to them, but here are some lessons I’ve learned to keep myself safe. I strongly encourage you to allow yourself to learn your own individual warning signs and most effective ways to recover if you also struggle with suicidal thoughts. If you don’t how to start, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can help.

I no longer apologize for my struggles

I still deal with thoughts of suicide; not always, but sometimes. I’ve learned that I have to be aware of my risk and manage that reality just as I would any other health issue. No shame or apology, but awareness and care.

I don’t talk myself out of it

This may sound counterintuitive but it’s one of my most important rules. There are reasons I look for an exit: I am hurting; I don’t know how to feel better; I have no sense of connection or value. This life must end. I don’t argue against the need for an end, but I do clarify. Does that mean ALL life must end or just my current way of living? What I need is relief from pain, so is there a way to find relief without a complete exit? When I pose these questions, I am more capable of believing in new possibilities.

I have a safety plan

I’ve learned to recognize the signs when I’m sinking into hopelessness. I know there are things that can help me recover and other things that make me feel more alone than anyone would imagine. With this, I created my own safety plan and shared it with specific people I can reach out to.

With this strategy, I’ve been asked why a plan is needed if I already know what helps. The reason is that when I sink too low, I don’t have the energy or ability to figure out how to explain what I am dealing with. This is also why it can be so hard to call for help. People want to know what’s wrong and how to fix it; they ask questions I have no ability to answer while I am in that sunken place. This is why it is so important to prepare a safety plan before crisis hits.

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