At work the other day, a sickening howl came out of an office near mine. It was guttural. Primal. Unfortunately familiar. A few years ago, it was me making that sound at work and I had made it many times before. It is the howl of those left behind after a suicide. It is a sound that comes from the pain of the deceased and the pain of the living clashing together in a sound that is rarely replicated in any other circumstance. Its horrific, and a sound that no one who has heard it will ever forget. It is also a sound that I wish we could eliminate forever.
Those left behind after the act of suicide are often never the same. There is a fragile hole in their souls that is left behind like shattered glass. After dealing with multiple suicides, it kind of feels like a shotgun blast to the soul. You feel like tattered rice paper on the inside. Fragile, weak, useless and unrepairable. Yet at the same time angry, abandoned and confused. With therapy and love, this feeling can subside and you learn how to use emotional tape to put it all back together. You begin to understand the pain that this person faced every day, and that their brains were telling them awful and untrue things that they could never escape.
Many people who have someone in their inner circle take their lives are at risk for repeating the act themselves. In younger people, there are sometimes a rash of suicides after one member of the group has taken their life. Worldwide there is one act of suicide every 40 seconds. It can affect anyone and it does not matter who they are, how rich or poor they are or what religion they are. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and has been on an unfortunate rise over the last 10 years.
Ways to Find Help
People always say if you are feeling suicidal you should reach out to someone. This is good advice, but it does not mean that who you reach out to has the ability or resources to help you. If you find yourself contemplating suicide or know someone who is, as well as if you are a survivor left behind by suicide there are resources to help and guide you. These include:
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – They have multiple resources, fundraisers and local chapters to help those touched by suicide or who have/are considering it.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 24/7 free and confidential support for people in distress. Hotline Number 1-800-273-8255 (TTY Lifeline 1-800-799-4889) Or Text “HOME” to 741741
- Enter the search term “Suicide” “Self Harm” or “Suicide Prevention” on the social media pages below:
Warning Signs of a Suicidal Person
- Talking about wanting to die/killing themselves
- Talking about emptiness, loneliness, and/or having no reason to live
- Planning the act of suicide (stockpiling medications, purchasing a gun, searching online for ways to end their lives)
- Talking about a great amount of guilt or shame
- Talking about being in pain – either physical or emotional (Chronic Illness sufferers often suffer silently. Please be kind)
- Talking about feeling trapped or needing an escape
- Giving away possessions
- Saying goodbye to family or friends
- Making a will
- New or increased use of alcohol or drugs
- Withdrawal from friends and family
- More signs and information can be found HERE