My Story About Suicide

CAUTION: The following is my personal journey of wrestling thoughts about suicide, self-harm, etc. While the account can be helpful, it can also be triggering so take care of yourself and don’t read if you need to avoid such things.

This month is Suicide Awareness month. Suicide is something I personally have wrestled with, and though about extensively. In the hopes that something can be gleaned from my experience, I believe it is time to share my journey.

I started wrestling with thoughts of suicide when I was in elementary school. I have a copy of a psychological report that confirms I started wrestling with such thoughts at the age of 8. In retrospect, this isn’t exactly surprising—until I was 12 years old, I didn’t really have any close friends, and while I knew my family loved me, I felt different than them in some unquantifiable way as well. In many ways I stood alone, and it has become well-known that loneliness is one of the contributors to suicidal tendencies.

Perhaps my most difficult years were the last years of elementary school, when I was 12 and 13. I was just starting to make close friends, and experiencing requited love for the first time–I am convinced that but for this, I would have taken my own life at that time. For while those were bright spots, they were about the only ones—the initial stages of puberty were starting, and it was the time in my life where conflict with peers was at its height. Again, understandable as we were all starting to grow up, approaching the start of high school and dealing with all the stresses such transitions bring. I certainly didn’t help matters by having a far more black-and-white version of morality at that time than I would later develop. In truth, I look back at the kid I was then and don’t fully understand how I could have been so stiff–the benefit of hindsight, I suppose.

In any event, I was actively coming up with plans to commit suicide at that point in my life, but all of my attempts were at best half-hearted. Something held me back from actually making a whole-hearted attempt. Yet it is somewhat curious–for much of my life through elementary school, high school, and even university I objected rather strenuously to the stigma around suicide. While Grade 8 was the last time I actually desired to commit suicide, I could understand the impulse and thought that suicide should be more socially acceptable.

My thinking on the appropriateness of suicide eventually evolved, especially since becoming Christian. I now distinguish between suicide and assisted suicide. Self-inflicted suicide is often quite messy–assisted suicide can ease matters tremendously. Yet even that is said with some caution. First, I do think that self-inflicted suicide requires some revision in thinking. It should always be mourned, but we should not blame the victim or think them weak. Rather, we should view it as a tragic outcome of mental health. I also do think that we should use caution in assisted suicide–while it has the potential to be helpful, it should always be used as a last resort. People should always be reminded of reasons to hope, reasons to live–we must do what we can to increase resilience in the population, and remind people that there is divinity in the darkness.

Will we ever stamp out suicide entirely? I doubt it. Yet I now know, and believe, that while there is breath, there is hope; that alive, there’s a chance–there are no possibilities for the dead.

Yet even with that knowledge there is still a struggle. Though I have not been actively suicidal since Grade 8, I have wrestled with other issues. Sometimes, my emotional pain is so great that I feel the temptation to cause myself physical pain to drown out the emotional pain. Fortunately, I know that that path offers no true healing. Other times, I long for death, or wish I had never been born. Sometimes, I wish I could just will myself to death, or think of how easy it would be to overdose on medication and simply fall asleep. Again, I know that that path is no solution, that death would be ending any possibility of the further experience in this life, and that I would much rather stay alive for the hopes I have and the possibilities that are offered.

Yet the important thing is that while I would not qualify myself as actively suicidal or inclined to self-harm, the wrestling with feelings of loneliness and worthlessness continues to be a life-long one. I have wrestled with these feelings all my life, and expect I always will wrestle with them. At the same time though, I echo the words of James. T. Kirk in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier: “I don’t want my pain taken away. I need my pain!” . I am given the strength to go on by the love of friends, and family, and God; I find solace in my faith and relationship with God; and I choose hope again and again. Through faith, hope, and love, I am given the strength to live with my darkness, my pain, and to grow strong through my experience with it.

This is my story. I hope that it offers some insight–yet whether it does or not, I feel it must be told–silence kills in a very literal sense. We must speak and share so that a way forward can be found.

Published by Devin Hogg

My name is Devin Hogg. I was born and raised in Carnarvon, Ontario, Canada. I moved to Guelph, Ontario, Canada in 2009 for university and lived here ever since. In my free time, I enjoy reading, watching TV and movies, going on long walks, swimming, and practicing Chen style Tai Chi. I love to write poetry and blog regularly about topics such as mental health, sci-fi/fantasy series, faith, sexuality, and politics.

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