May 6, 2021

What Suicide Survivors Wish You Knew

In 2019 47,511 individuals died by suicide in the United States—and there were approximately 1.38 million suicide attempts.

Here’s what survivors of attempted suicide wish you knew:

Attempting suicide is not a selfish act.

Suicide is not always a decision made by a person only thinking of themselves, but rather a decision they act on because they believe themselves to be a burden on those they love.

The idea that suicide is a coward’s way out or a thought entertained by the weak-minded is a type of prejudice that created the stigma around suicide. Hearing these kinds of statements about their struggles or thoughts makes it hard for people to open up about their pain and despair.

Suicide—or an attempt—is not an impulsive decision.

Many suicide survivors admit to having had suicidal thoughts for a long time before acting on them. Each day was a struggle as they tried to function normally and hide their suffering.

For many, their suicide plans required advanced preparation—and they spent considerable effort masking their plans, which explains why many survivors’ family and friends feel shocked and blindsided.

Warning signs aren’t always obvious.

From expressing a desire to die to extreme mood swings or withdrawing into isolation, there are various warning signs of suicidal thoughts. However, survivors often worked very hard to conceal their pain.

This highlights the importance of maintaining strong connections and open channels of communication with the people dear to you.  

Survivors struggle with guilt.

Many suicide survivors cope with the remorse of “letting family and friends down.” Not only had their despair led them to try to take their own lives, but they feel their failed suicide attempt adds to the burden their loved ones bear.

The worst isn’t necessarily over because someone has survived a suicide attempt; their journey still requires compassion, support and professional help.

Suicide shouldn’t be swept under the rug.

Talking about the signs of depression and suicidal tendencies makes people uncomfortable. The stigma surrounding these topics is to blame. However, this attitude puts more people at risk as it tells individuals considering suicide and suicide survivors that their feelings are shameful.

If mental health, the need for mental health services and suicide prevention were talked about more openly, we could help lift the stigma and correct the myths surrounding suicide.

At Communicare, we offer multiple treatment options for mental health and co-occurring disorders (substance use disorders and mental health disorders). If you or someone you know has a mental health emergency, please call 911, go to your nearest emergency room or call 1-866-837-7521 to be connected to our mobile crisis team.

You can also get help 24/7 at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by calling 800-273-TALK (8255). If you prefer to text, the Crisis Text Line is available at 741741.