I sat down and talked with several suicide survivors last night. By “survivor” I do not mean they had attempted to take their own lives. By “survivor” I mean they have survived the suicide of a loved one.
After listening for a couple of hours, I realized that the word “survivor” has never been been more aptly applied to a group of people. And after listening to these people for a couple of hours I can unequivocally say that I will never, ever try to kill myself again. Ever.
I felt uncomfortable among them, not just because their stories were terrible. It was the visceral carnage every suicide leaves behind and how it affects even the most routine, mundane tasks we all perform in our daily lives.
Those of us who have tried to kill ourselves don’t think of what it will be like for our loved ones to go back to school or return to work. What it will be like to run into someone at the grocery store who shuns them or others who try to use humor to lighten the loss.
I walked away last night realizing that the wants of these “survivors'” are very, very simple. They want their loved ones back. They want to know what their loved ones were feeling and thinking. They want to know that their loved ones will not be forgotten or remembered only for the manner in which they chose to die. They want us to know that their loved ones were not selfish. Their loved ones also were kind, caring, loving, and sometimes even very happy and silly.
I had assumed that these “survivors” would be angry with me when I told them that I had tried to kill myself. But they were not. They simply wanted to know – in detail – exactly what I felt and how it felt when I had decided to kill myself. They wanted to know how I rationalized that the world would be better without me. They looked at me so intently, without judgment, as though I possessed some of connection to their loved ones that humbled me.
I saw and felt a pain I had never imagined but will never forget. It is a pain I am so blessed to have experienced. It is a pain that will forever protect me from taking my own life.
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Last reviewed: 17 Feb 2010