OK, I understand that a suicide attempt is not a suicide attempt if the end desire is not death, but stick with me here, I have a point.
Believe it or not, I get a lot of searches on this site by people searching for ways to attempt suicide and not die (their words). And while many people may find this unbelievable, I don’t actually think it’s all that uncommon. I think many people make suicide attempts that are less about death and more about screaming for help.
The World of Treating a Mental Illness
In a perfect world, as soon as a person saw the symptoms of a mental illness, he would see a doctor, who would refer him to a psychiatrist for an accurate diagnosis and effective treatment. In a perfect world, this would all happen very quickly and the patient would go from crazy to sane in a matter of weeks. In a perfect world, that treatment would work forever and the person with the mental illness would lead a happy life and never look back.
Does anyone think we live in a perfect world?
No. Instead we live in a world where people ignore their mental illness symptoms for months, or even years, get incorrect diagnoses and ineffectual help. This is no one’s fault, necessarily, it’s just that even when everyone does the very best they can, not everyone gets better in a timely fashion. Moreover, when treatment does work, it doesn’t mean that it will last forever. No, more likely there will be episodes of mental illness in the future requiring new or augmented treatment that may take months to be resolved.
Desperation Leads to Suicide Attempts
And the problem lies in the group of people who aren’t being successfully treated. For whatever reason, these people with mental illness are being treated but the treatment just isn’t effective.
And when this happens, I can attest from experience, you would beg anyone and everyone for help if you thought it would lead to effective treatment. You become beyond desperate.
It feels like you’re screaming and crying and praying and sobbing and wailing no one is paying attention. It feels like no matter what you tell your doctor they don’t “get it” because they just aren’t helping you.
And again, in most cases it’s not that the doctors aren’t trying, it’s just that they’re failing.
But it doesn’t feel like that. It feels like no one is listening to you. It feels like no one is taking you seriously. It feels like if only they understood how much pain I’m in, they would help me.
And so you want to make them understand your pain. You want to make them take you seriously. You want to attempt suicide. I suspect nothing gets people’s attention quite like thinking you’re about to die.
When is a Suicide Attempt not a Suicide Attempt?
And these suicide attempts are fundamentally the same as any other suicide attempt – the people committing them really do want to end their suffering and they really are risking their own lives. These suicide attempts mean the same thing: Help me; I’m in pain and I don’t know how to get out of it.
And don’t mistake this type of suicide attempt for some kind of manipulation either. It’s not. It’s just trying to up the amperage on a scream so that someone will help you out of the pain that is trying to kill you. Because you don’t want to die. You just want the pain to stop.
Attempting Suicide Won’t Help You
But the trouble is if you were in your right mind, you would probably realize that a suicide attempt would not help your cause. This is because the doctors are likely doing all they can already and you spending time in an emergency room isn’t going to change what they are able to do. In fact, it may lessen the chances that a doctor will be able to help you due to whatever injuries you sustain (like to your kidneys and liver) when you attempt suicide.
So don’t do it. Don’t attempt suicide in a bid to get help. It’s not going to work.
What to Do Instead of Attempting Suicide
Instead of planning a suicide attempt that you hope won’t work, try getting help that might. For example, tell your doctor that you’re thinking of attempting suicide. Many people don’t do this for fear they will be “locked up” but what do you think is going to happen if you actually do attempt suicide? Talking about suicide is infinitely better than actually doing it. Tell your doctor about the desperation you are feeling. Tell your doctor what you feel that desperation is leading you to. Make it very clear that you need your disorder to be taken as seriously as a goddamned heart attack. Maybe that means new meds. Maybe that means referral to another doctor. Maybe that means considering other options. Whatever it means, it means something and it means something now.
And then you will just have to accept that help takes time. Your treatment isn’t going to be instantaneous. You likely aren’t going to wake up tomorrow pain-free. That pain that you’re in is likely to hang around for quite some time. You have to wait it out. It’s not pleasant, it’s not what you want to hear, but it’s the truth.
So I absolutely understand the desperation that would lead you to a suicide attempt. I absolutely understand why you would want to be on death’s door. I absolutely understand why you feel like people aren’t taking you seriously.
But a suicide attempt isn’t going to get you what you want. Instead, keep going to real people who can really help you. And if you can’t do that, then admit yourself to a hospital instead of attempting suicide. Because the damage of an attempted suicide is going to make your pain worse, not better.