Day 31: Have you attempted suicide? What, when, why, how and what did you learn?
There are many people out there who say we shouldn’t talk about suicide. Most of these people work in the media. Fortunately I don’t work in the media because I firmly and wholeheartedly believe that we should talk about suicide; as loudly as possible. We should talk about when people attempt to take their own life. We should talk about why they attempt to take their own life. And we should talk about how people attempt to take their own life. Only by talking about suicide can we begin to understand what goes on in someone’s mind when the only option they feel is left is to end it all.
I’ve been one of those people. I’ve been to a place so dark, so abysmal, so rotten with chaos and trepidation, that I felt the only route I had available was to end my own life. I’ve stood on bridges and stared into the abyss. I’ve tied nooses round my neck. I’ve consumed vast quantities of medication. And I’ve slashed at my wrists with knife and blade. On nearly a dozen occasions I’ve visited that dark place; that place where death is the only solace.
- November 2000: I stood on a viaduct in Glenfinnan, Scotland, eager to throw myself off
- March 2006: I sat on a beach in Port Fairy, ready to slash my wrists with a knife
- May 2007: I took an overdose of medication whilst in the safety of my bedroom
- October 2007: I attempted to hang myself in the midst of a rainforest
- January 2008: I cut my wrists with a knife in the middle of a public park
- June 2008: I swallowed dozens of tablets in the non-safety of a hostel dorm room
- May 2009: saw me so close to death I don’t like talking about it
- November 2009: I fashioned a noose out of clothing to cease my homeless existence
- Mid 2010: lost to homelessness, I hacked at my wrists with blunt sticks whilst living in a park
- October 2011: I used my belt to hang myself from a tree, in the wilderness of the Australian bush
- December 2011: I attempted to decapitate and dismember myself on a railway track
And on each occasion I failed. In whatever attempt I was taking to end my pointless existence, I failed. And even though some people don’t like talking about suicide with those words – failed, succeeded – I do, because my desire to end my own life was so strong, so powerful, that I felt I had failed. All I wanted in each of those eleven moments was my death. I no longer wanted to live. I no longer wanted to breathe the air or feel the rain on my face. All I wanted was to die. To no longer exist. To end my worthless, useless, insignificant life. In fact, the desire for death was so strong, so powerful, that I am surprised I am still alive to type these words.
By all accounts, I should be dead. I often talk of 11 October 2007 as the day I should have died. The same could be said for May 2009 and October 2011. All three attempts were so solid, so thought out, that I am amazed I failed. I am well and truly stunned that I was able to keep breathing beyond those dates. In fact, the only reason I am still alive is because of the fundamental lesson I’ve learned over the years. It may sound simple to end your own life, but the reality is starkly different. In fact, ending your own life is the hardest, most complicated and difficult thing you could ever attempt. There is nothing simple about killing yourself; unless you’ve done your homework, unless you’ve thought of every angle, you will fail; and rightly so.
For that is the other lesson I have learnt from all my suicide attempts; there is always something worth living for. It may not be something you’ve considered. It may be something as simple as a scent, a taste or sight. But there is always something that should be powerful enough to keep you breathing. On one occasion, for me, it was the desire to not die a virgin. Whilst on another occasion, it was the desire to look upon another beautiful female posterior. Both desires prevented me from successfully ending my own life. Both desires were enough to convince me to keep living.
So if you do ever find yourself staring into that abyss, try to find that one thing powerful enough to keep you breathing. It may be so you can hug your kitten again. It may be the desire to taste Vegemite on toast once more. It may be as simple as not wanting to die in the dodgy underwear you’re wearing. There will always be something, buried deep down in the bottom of your mind, that will keep you wanting to breathe. That will make life feel lively again. So just find that something and hold onto it as tightly as you can, for you really don’t want to kill yourself; it’s harder than you think.
I have written extensively about all my suicide attempts in two previous posts, which you are more than welcome to read: