A world-first initiative for
suicide prevention by ASPF 2020

How I survived…
Help us to help others.

People who have experienced strong suicidal thoughts and survived can provide powerful insights into how to best respond to these challenges. Sharing your own ideas and experiences can help others to endure their own suicidal thoughts and survive.

If you are fighting suicidal ideas, or have fought them in the past, and would like to reveal what worked for you please email Clinical Associate Professor David Horgan at drdavidhorgan@gmail.com so you can help others.

To make it easier to read for someone in a severely distressed state, we suggest that you please keep it to no more than five ideas of how you resisted in dot point form.

No personal identifying information, but do tell us your occupation please so our readers can identify with you.

Thank you!

Clinical Associate Professor David Horgan
Founder/Medical Director of the Australian Suicide Prevention Foundation
 

A suggestion for you

If you have been very depressed or suicidal and have recovered, we suggest you make a selfie video showing how well you are now. This can be very useful if your illness or suicidal ideas return.

Texts helped save me

Dear family and friends of a loved one who may be suffering with feelings and emotions of deep despair.
My name is C….. There have been times during my life when the only relief or comfort I have felt was the thought and belief that ending my life was my only option.
During these sometimes acute or longer periods of despair, it was the gentle consistent messaging from loved ones that kept me connected to the reality of my value in this world.
A simple word, phrase or vision of my hand being held eased my pain. I was not alone, judged or a burden.
I understand it can be a heart breaking time for worried family and friends. You may feel overwhelmed by fear and a sense of helplessness.
Please know that the impact of your compassionate encouragement may shine a light of hope for your loved one, as it has done for me.
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Survivor 1

(Medical specialist) the power of frequent contact

1 I was angry with you for preventing my suicide. For such a long time.
2 But today I want to say thank you, with conviction, and from the bottom of my heart. While trapped under the crushing weight of worthlessness, your daily, consistent contact demonstrated to me that you thought I was worthy. This unconventional approach saved my life.
3 This past summer was the worst of my life. There are parts of it which I remain unable to entirely recall, but I am convinced that the totality amounts to the greatest pain I have ever had the misfortune to feel or imagine.
4 I know that were it not for the intensive time that you invested in my care I would have died. In particular the tireless willingness to call and text me and provide support out of hours almost certainly prevented the execution of several plans I had made for my suicide. It is this commitment and meaningful presence to which I ultimately owe my life.
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Survivor 2

Doctor

1 At the end of the day, sometimes I feel like I deserve a bravery award. This is just because I have decided to choose life. Not everyone has the courage to. That being said – everyone has a different compass in life and maybe some people just think hope has left the building.

Myself – I have a very significant and understanding support base. If any of these people who are so important to me decided to end their lives I would be gutted. This encourages me to think through my negative thoughts and choose life. I am so very grateful that I did.

Thoughts that made me seriously reconsider my thoughts and potential plans:
2 Even though I feel worthless and emotionally barren I do have people around me that need me. How will my loved ones cope and resolve their devastation in the event that I kill myself?
3 How do I explain in a suicide note that this was the easiest thing for me knowing the despair it will cause? My friends will be constantly thinking what else they could have done to help.
4 Who will care for my animals in the same way that I do?
5 How will some of my closest friends that also suffer from excruciating depression feel? Is there a possibility that someone close to me would suicide in the event that I killed myself? I have unfortunately got people in my life that are considering suicide and rely on me a lot – I could be putting them at extreme risk of suicide.
6 How will this affect my physicians and their confidence in their chosen vocation? How will my own patients be left feeling?
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Survivor 3

(Lawyer) “Pharmaceuticals saved my life repeatedly”

1 Try and think of all the positive things in your life (whether it be loved ones, pets, holidays, travel, food, etc.), these are all the things you will miss out on if you act on suicidal thoughts.
2 Think about how devastated the people you love the most would be if anything happened to you – suicide is really a ‘selfish’ option and hurts the people who love you most. Think about how they would react, how they would feel attending your funeral, etc.
3 Acknowledge your feelings and talk to someone trustworthy about how you are feeling – talking helps me to lessen the pain and reduces the severity of my suicidal thoughts.
4 Don’t put yourself in ‘dangerous’ situations – if you are having suicidal thoughts, try not to be alone and put all medication (etc.) out of reach so that you are not tempted to do something you can’t ever take back.
5 Take it hour by hour if you need to, but try to remember that suicide is not the answer to your problems.
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Survivor 4

Grandmother

1 I pray to stop the self harm ideas and to stop the desperate yearning for it all to end.
2 Think about how much my husband loves me and of being ashamed of my desires to escape everything.
3 Thinking about my children and grandchildren.
4 Stay in bed and not answer the phone.
5 But most of all being able to ring my doctor and take his advice on any medication he suggests to get me through the black times.
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Survivor 5

What kept me alive during the bad times?

1 Having faith in the doctors was a massive one. Have faith in the medications.
2 Have hope that everything will be OK despite everything in your mind suggesting otherwise.
3 Being able to have even one person you can talk to and not hold much back. Knowing when to ask for help.
4 Not letting your mind take control of the way you feel.
5 Having something you can do when times get ugly (a safety plan).
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Survivor 6

(Physiotherapist ) repeated episodes of depression

1 My promise to Dr X not to do it, and if I did attempt and did not die, he would not see me anymore, so there would be no hope.
2 Not want to muck up what he is doing for other people.
3 Dr X probably has an idea that he has not yet tried-therefore there is hope, and he is easily contactable to bring about his idea.
4 I don’t know how to carry out suicide successfully – I’d hate to live with yet more disability or medical problems.
5 My friend’s son suicided, and I can see her pain even years later, and my suicide might be too much for her since she also suffers depression.
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Survivor 7

(Businesswoman) bipolar illness How I avoided suicide:

1 I wanted to live.
2 I kept pushing and tried everything, sure there was a solution.
3 In the darkest of days the impact on my children, especially as they were all under 8 as my mum had died when I was five and I couldn’t put them through what I had been through.
4 Fear of dying.
5 Shame for my family.I had my first bout of depression at 25 YO and then I was good for about 7 years, then hell started. No one could tell me what was going on. For most of the year, I was good and then for 3 months starting March I couldn’t get out of my chair. The GPs didn’t have much idea. I I got some relief from some medications, but the pressure from my parents not to take medicine put me on a rollercoaster. I’d come good, go off and start again, there is a bullying culture in society toward mental health in general. Finally, I hit rock bottom, the meds weren’t doing anything, but because I was miserable but not suicidal the psychiatrist wasn’t game to change the meds. And this idea doctors and psychiatrists have of having to go off meds for three weeks before starting a new one is outright dangerous. Finally, my psychiatrist mentioned a doctor who used combinations of medications to great success Finally I got it out of her and after 15 years of suffering, I saw X, he started combination antidepressants, and I felt markedly better within a week. My doctor realises that people don’t just commit suicide between 9 and 5 weekdays and he gives me access to him when I know I am slipping any time.
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Survivor 8

(Executive) Postnatal depression Five Reasons why I stuck around...

1 I can’t break my mum and dad’s hearts.
2 I owe it to my husband and boys to stick around and be the best mum and wife that I can be.
3 I have to give recovery a really good go before taking the easy way out… I at least owe it to myself.
4 The thought of the boys growing up without me, or reared by a replacement me, devastated me.
5 Curiosity… I was intrigued to know what a future post such emotional mayhem and hopelessness could hold for me.

Survivor 9

I love my Family – can’t imagine wanting to do anything that I know would hurt them .
And yet…. There was a time in my life , when my despair and hopelessness was so overwhelming ,that I thought daily of how I might kill myself .

At my worst , I would think that they would get over it , that they were better off without me, that my life was worthless .

They knew that I was depressed – had been for months and months .
Despite them reaching out , trying to help , I just could’nt express how bad my state of mind was , and did everything I could to hide it .
The depression convinced me that neither they or anyone else could help.

Nothing was rational , everything was a set of mind numbingly awful emotions.
If I started to think just how shattered they would be, I would resort to thinking that I could plan things to look like an accident .
That would be better – somehow.

The fact that I could’nt explain it made me feel even worse.
Pressures of day to day life , loss of relationships, work , financial insecurity , bullying- the list of causes are myriad.

The mask you put up is so that you won’t dissolve into tears , fall apart , reveal how incredibly awful and hopeless you feel .
You feel as if you’ll somehow shatter ; you can’t think straight , concentrate, do all those things you used to with ease .
It sucks up a lot of energy, but somehow Depression works like that .
It’s not always a conscious decision to try and hide your state of mind , but it is very ,very common.

That mask – that “compartmentalising “of your life , is often so so impenetrable , that loved ones , friends , co workers and collegues don’t really see that you are suicidal.
And that, I’m afraid, is exactly what the Depression tells you to do .
Don’t let them know.
So you often stop seeing friends , family ,make every effort to hide away ,disolve into a mess in secret , and try all sorts of things to feel better , to beat the depression

Still, the feeling that there is no other way out can be relentless ,and for some poor souls overwhelming .

I eventually got help through Counselling and Medication – the thoughts went away , and I became “me “again .

What I now know, is that suicidal thoughts can take over your whole existence . To become yourself again, and function, you need to reach out , or just accept help when offered.

Because what I also now know, is that Families who have a loved one take their life , NEVER get over it.
Friends, co workers , aquaintances – all are damaged and traumatised by these losses.

Those left behind – wives, husbands , sons and daughters describe the loss as devastating .
Like a bomb had gone off in their midst .
Carnage.
They blame themselves for not being able to help , or see how desperate their loved one was feeling.
Their every waking minute is spent going over and over every conversation , every silence , every cross word and emotional blow up.
For years.
They describe an ache that never leaves , a hole in their very being – the most awful of losses.
Guilt, bewilderment , anger, profound sadness- all those emotions are now in every moment of their lives .
Sometimes it tears the family apart, and they live the rest of their lives “just existing “.

And even more tragically, we know that they themselves now have an increased likelihood of death by suicide.

Reach out if you are reading this and thinking of leaving your loved ones – because if you don’t , your life might not be the only one lost.

And if you are reading this , and have lost a loved one , please forgive yourself and try to understand that depression , and suicidal thoughts are like a cancer .

Some people lose their life to the suicidal illness – and we should all work that much harder to reduce the number to zero in their memory.

    Australian Suicide
Prevention Foundation

For over 20 years we’ve provided Australia-wide suicide prevention to every and any vulnerable Australian, whether they be in metropolitan, rural or isolated areas.

Postal Address:

PO Box 222
North Melbourne VIC 3051

Office Address:

Suite 609, 89 High Street
Kew VIC 3101

Contact/Media

admin@aspf.org

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© Australian Suicide Prevention Foundation