When asked about Suicide, most people would paint a very black and white picture. The reality is that Suicide exists within a multitude of shades of grey, and to this day is extremely misunderstood, despite our perceived awareness of it. This series, aims to shine a light on a topic that many would rather keep hidden. This is What Suicidality looks like for me.
I want to stress here that this is not a comprehensive series, and Suicidality, like Mental Illness, differs from individual to individuall. This is what it looks like for me.
5 & 6
I recently found myself at home for more than a few days, and at the insistence of a friend, cleaned my room. Let me start off by saying that I am not a hoarder, it's simply not possible because I don't stick around long enough to accumulate many things. But I like holding on to some things; recommendation letters that made me almost cry, postcards from friends, award invitations, my graduation program and chords, birthday cards, and a few other things. I've lost far more than I've retained, but I'm proud of the ones I'm still holding onto, now safe in a single shoe box.
As I was going through them, I found a postcard from a friend who had gone on a trip abroad a few years ago. On the postcard, after a thank you for a time I was there, I was asked to be more observant of my surroundings because I never know the entire story. Besides that the postcard was lovely, and I had brought up the fact that I didn't like the comment on there with this friend. But it is not a comment that I can ever forget. I do not hold it against this friend, but I hold onto it because it is a reminder of the state things were/have been for years.
This postcard was sent the fall of my junior year. The comment was talking about the previous semester and summer, when my PTSD had been triggered for the very first time. I have spoken about that time in my life here before, feel free to read this article, this one, and this other one. The main thing I want to discuss today is my suicidality at the time. I went from being 'fine' to a stage five or six in an instant. I wanted nothing more than to end my life. And the ONLY thing that prevented me at that moment is my hatred for myself.
I did not hide my suicidality at the time, and I believed that I would be taken seriously and would be 'saved'. I can't say that no one cared at the time, because most people did, but very, very few were compassionate. The vast majority ignored it, or did not take it seriously. I differentiate between these two, because ignoring it can also be because you just don't know what to do, even if you're taking it seriously.
Today, I want to talk about taking Suicidality seriously. When I first started writing post 5 in the series I was going to talk about how we don't take suicidality seriously until we are actively suicidal. So everything before this stage, for many, simply does not exist. As I finished the article I realized that that's not the only time we don't take suicidality seriously and felt the need to rewrite it.
Sometimes even a goodbye message is not enough to warrant a follow up. Throughout the last seven years, as I've been sharing about my suicidality, the most common I get is 'How did you attempt?' And anytime I mention that I didn't wake up in a hospital, I was automatically taken far less seriously.
Suicidality is serious, in every single one of its stages, not only because of the end result, but because it is a problem. Suicidality is a state of being that no one should ever have to deal with, regardless of its stage. To this day, I don't know if the people in my life at the time understand how miraculous it is that I am here today. I do not blame anyone for not being there, and I definitely don't hold it against them, although I had for a long time. I mention all this because this is the reality that many of us face during suicidality. Until the very end, it is not taken seriously, by many. You might say 'well, the people in my life are mostly supportive', and that's great, but a single person not taking this seriously is one too many.
There have been far too many times when I have wanted to end things as a statement to the people in my life, basically saying "You didn't listen, You weren't there, and now I am gone". When we have nothing left, we need anything to hold onto, and taking our states of being seriously can be one of the things that we hold on to.
At a 5 you're there. It's not a matter of death is better, it's death is better and it's time.
I remember the first time I hit a 5. Not necessarily when it began, but the weeks after getting there. I'd stare out the window in school and wonder if the fall would kill me, or just paralyze me. I'd look at cars and wonder how fast a car would need to go to do enough damage. I'd think about heights of buildings. I'd do calculations during physics class and always wonder, is it enough? I'd listed out the possibilities, and removed the things I'd never do, like shoot myself.
At a 6 you know exactly how it's going to happen. You know the time, you know the place, and you know the how of it all.
You plan. I planned, for days, weeks, months. I wanted it to look like an accident, so it narrowed my list even further. I needed the right time, the right place, everything needed to be perfect, otherwise they'd know. Thankfully, I was in Jordan, and maniac drivers exist for a reason. And accident would be easy, but then you need to guarantee death and not paralysis or anything else, that'd complicate things. Then you'd need to do it in the hospital, maybe pay off a nurse or something. And then there's the pain, you've already gone through enough of it, you don't want to deal with anymore.
The first time I reached a 6, when I was 17, I was going to go by falling off the apartment building of my friend, since we always hung out there, or jumping in front of a car. I know which street it would've been in, the exact moment.
When I thought about what this might do to the driver, or the residents of the building, I dug deeper into my 4, and built a solid foundation of not giving a damn about anyone or anything. This was the only option, this was for the best, and it needed to happen.
The second time I wanted to make a statement; I wanted to tell the world that despite my outward success I was still suffering and I deserved to be heard, and I wasn't.
Suicidality is serious, Always.
So yes, I don’t always know what’s going on around me, but sometimes I don’t control that.
Ahmad Abojaradeh is the Co-Founder of Muslim Community Link, An Engineer, a world traveler, a Peer Support Specialist, a Novelist and the founder and editor of Life in My Days. He hopes to spread awareness of living a life of wellness through his writing, workshops and speaker events. Follow Ahmad on twitter, instagram or facebook.