THE DAY I ATTEMPTED SUICIDE

EMOTIONAL, MENTAL HEALTH

The bravery and vulnerability of this list blew me away as Hannah is still very much in the aftermath of a suicide attempt.

Her perspective and regret is raw, yet it is an incredibly important read. It was World Suicide Prevention Day on Friday and so the more we open our eyes to this, hopefully, the more people can be helped and understood.

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  • The aftermath of a suicide attempt for me has been the weirdest reality.

  • I’m not going to share how I tried to do it because it feels counterproductive, it’s not going to help anyone hearing a method described, but I did try to do it. And that is bad enough.

  • There was a moment when I was stood on a path in hysterics and wished I was someone else. Anyone else. A stranger walking by who looked a little concerned. Someone I saw enjoying a glossy life on the cover of a magazine. Someone who was able to cope with this.

  • There was an option that was better still, I wished I could press a magic button and just erase myself from existence. Then I wouldn’t leave anyone behind. It would be that easy.

  • Reality wasn’t that easy.

  • I can hardly process the moments of trying to end my life. I had even brought a backup option. I was very determined. This was it.

  • I phoned my mum. I can never recall why I phoned her, it was a bizarre thing to do in the moment, because of course my mum would try and stop me escalating anything. I called her though and even a month later I was so relieved I did.

  • Everything else in that moment was a haze. A foggy and messy haze.

  • I hung up on my mum. My mum panicked. Eventually, I called a friend in hysterics and they sprung into action on my behalf. I wanted to die, but I also really didn’t. It was the lowest moment for me and honestly, it could have gone either way. I’m so glad I called her. I’m so glad that I’m alive.

  • I know now that I was at the end of my tether, the end of my tolerance, the mental illness felt never-ending and I couldn’t see any other way out of the situation. Every single thing I’d tried felt like it had failed. It had been eighteen months of anxiety, of self-harm, of out of control emotion and of feeling at my lowest. It felt like I was trapped forever with a mental illness I’d never asked for. I couldn’t imagine or see another way out.

  • The next thing I can properly recall is the aftermath of it all.

  • I was in shock. Everyone around me was shocked. I’d left the house to go for a walk and it had turned into a life threatening situation.

  • A walk. A simple walk.

  • The police were involved. My very worried mum had called them. She was halfway across the country and I hung up on her and so she did the only thing she could have done and called the police. I’m so very glad she called them. I’m so glad that she and my housemate didn’t have to resolve it alone.

  • The police weren’t actually the ones to find me, my housemate was and they convinced me to try and walk home.

  • Putting one foot in front of the other was the hardest thing to do because despite it all, despite calling someone I knew would stop me, I still wanted to do it. I just knew now that I couldn’t because I would be stopped.

  • When the police met us halfway, it was a shock. I had no idea they were coming. At the time it never hit me that the police helped people about to end their own life.

  • Being escorted home by two police officers is something I can’t articulate. The most surreal experience. The most unnerving.

  • It was only afterwards that I wondered what my neighbours would think. As I lay awake that night I wondered if they thought I was a criminal? Were they gossiping about the neighbour who had a policeman in their house? Now I know that they probably didn’t even know we had the police out.

  • The police wouldn’t leave until they were sure I was safe and they asked me if I would speak to a mental health nurse. I was in a room with two complete strangers, both of them police officers who clearly weren’t going to leave me so I said I would.

  • The officers were so kind while we waited, one of them kept my housemates and mum up to date while the other tried to make reassuring small talk. Small talk with a total stranger in police officers’ uniform who wouldn’t let me so much as walk up the stairs alone to go to the bathroom was the very last thing I wanted. I could barely tell them my own name let alone whether it was sunny or cloudy or what my house was like. I’m glad they tried though.

  • I was triaged. Then they left and I was left in complete and utter shock.

  • I have no idea what I said to the officers or the nurse. It’s all a haze and I don’t think I want to know.

  • I was grateful the police had been called. Not in the moment, but afterwards when I tried to recall it all.

  • But when they’d all gone it was just me and a leaflet with helplines.

  • They went back to finish their shifts, but my world felt like it had stopped turning.

  • I wasn’t alone. My housemate had my back through all sorts of mental health issues over the last eighteen months of struggles and they were there again that day. I can’t imagine it from their perspective getting a phone call to say your housemate tried to kill herself and I can’t imagine being left alone with said housemate overnight, but they did both of those and that helped to keep me alive.

  • The people who knew on the day, my parents, sister, housemates and the friend I’d called had my back and did everything they could to support me that night.

  • I didn’t know what I was thinking. I was shocked and numb and exhausted.

  • That night was filled with distraction and shock and then more distraction to help erase the shock. The direct moments after were not the time to process it, all that took months and even now I don’t fully understand. There was never an obvious reason for why it happened that particular day. The walk had started out normal.

  • I keep mentioning shock because that’s all I could feel. Was it really me who had tried to end her own life just hours ago? What was I supposed to do next?

  • I wanted to laugh and tell them all it was just some horrific sick joke, because then it wouldn’t be real. Except it was real. It was very real and I couldn’t change that. I couldn’t take it back.

  • I knew I had to get through the night. I knew I probably could. I wasn’t fully confident if I’m honest. I was terrified of my own mind and what damage it might cause next.

  • And then I just had to keep going. There was no more adrenaline. I was no longer in tears. It was just me, my housemate and a lot of shock.

  • I’d tried to kill myself. You don’t just get to bounce back from that overnight. I wish you did. A suicide attempt will always be a part of my life. I’ll never be able to erase it. Writing that makes me shudder a little.

  • It would have been nice to have awoken to find it was all a dream. Sadly, it wasn’t and I had an entire day to face. Twenty-four hours is a long time when you still don’t know if you like the idea of living.

  • It was surreal. I was still in shock. I still didn’t know what would be next, what I was supposed to do after something like that. It was an alien concept, other people reached breaking point not me.

  • There is no handbook for what you should do the next day or the day after that, or after that again. Nothing. Not even a hint. You have to make it up yourself and really after a suicide attempt that is a huge ask. I wasn’t injured and I was terrified of being locked away in a hospital prison so I was glad to be at home, but I didn’t know what to do after that.

  • Another waiting list for help wasn’t the solution and as a twenty-one-year-old still navigating life this was something I’d had neither experience in or knowledge of.

  • Like I said other people attempted this not me.

  • But I was still breathing and even after I’d tried to end my own life I was grateful to still be breathing.

  • I knew there were going to be repercussions from the day before. I couldn’t just ignore what had happened. The handful of people who knew couldn’t just ignore what had happened. I’m glad they couldn’t because in the days that followed when thinking for myself was impossible, they made decisions for and with me that were in my best interest. I could not have done it without them.

  • I stumbled through the next day with my housemate’s support.

  • We used distraction and I watched as much telly as I could. It was nice to be in someone else’s reality and not my own. Sure, I’d tried to kill myself, but I least I didn’t have her onscreen issues or wasn’t facing his character’s problems. It was nice to let someone else cause the drama. It was nice to be able to sit back and watch the drama knowing I was, for once, not the cause. Because that’s how I saw it. Me, Hannah, causing the drama.

  • I have no idea what I said or did that day. I know we watched TV and I think I called my mum lots, but I really don’t know how I got through it. It’s another haze.

  • The day after started well. I’d gone one day without attempted suicide and as ridiculous as it sounded, I took that as a win, because that day was certainly better than forty-eight hours earlier.

  • The celebration was incredibly short-lived. Like declaring a winning football team before they win, tempting fate.

  • By midday I was regretting not going ahead with the suicide attempt two days earlier. I wanted it to have worked and I was in pieces. I could hardly make myself move from the kitchen floor where I had plonked myself, inexplicably. I was tired of living again and this time I wasn’t able to simply go out for a walk alone. Wisely my housemate wouldn’t even entertain that idea.

  • I think I was just about over the shock and now I was taking in exactly what had happened and I didn’t know how I was supposed to live with it. I didn’t know what to do next or how to express how I felt about it all.

  • My housemate sat me down and we talked it through. I realised I needed help. Professional and swift help, because this was breaking point again for me. This was devastating.

  • And I called for help. They calmed me a little and said to call back if I needed them again. They also gave me A&E options, but suggested to only use them as an emergency due to the pandemic.

  • It was an emergency in my world, but I stayed put. If their pandemic warning hadn’t been spoken, I still would have been reluctant to drive to an A&E facility in the middle of a global pandemic when they would probably just assess me and then send me home. So, I stayed put. I don’t know if that judgement was right or wrong, but it was my call and I was far more afraid of the hospital then I was of my housemate.

  • I spoke to my housemate and we had a difficult conversation with the outcome no one wanted. It was safest for me to go home. It wasn’t part of my plan, but at the end of the day my safety was far more important than my job and my life down south.

  • It was surreal. I was a fully grown adult who needed to go home to mum and dad. I didn’t know how to feel about that. Home was a way away, but my parents were able to give me twenty-four-hour support. And I now know I needed and still need twenty four hour support.

  • As an adult twenty four hour support from parents is strange. It’s like being babysat or reverting back to being a child.

  • And it is strange to go from complete independence to complete dependence in the space of three days. Of course, it’s strange.

  • But I needed it. I really needed it.

  • So, we packed up a chunk of my things, drove across the country and met with my parents.

  • And then I came home. All I wanted at that point was a hug from my mum and dad. As strange as it felt to be coming back to the care of mum and day I was still their daughter and I really needed my parents.

  • And they were able to offer me the support I really needed. Twenty-four-hour care and support and I’ll never deny how lucky I am to have them do that for me.

  • The next day we made some phone calls and got immediate crisis support.

  • I re-enrolled at my childhood GP surgery and spoke to them.

  • A letter came a few days later with a date for a physiologist assessment, which happened this week and now we wait.

  • Wait for a treatment plan.

  • Wait until I can leave the house alone, wait until I can be left in the house alone, wait until my life can resume.

  • At the time of writing, it’s been almost a month. And it’s been one of the hardest, most surreal months I’ve known, because really what do you do after a suicide attempt?

  • I love a good plan and coming home because I couldn’t live independently wasn’t a part of my plan. I think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who included it in their plan.

  • Was going home a failure? It depends on the day you ask.

  • At first all I could think was that the neighbours would be watching me return and know my failure. My street is closer than most and I know and love many of my neighbours, however none of them knew exactly what I was doing. For all they knew I had just finished university. Most children return home after that. I had to keep telling myself that.

  • No one in my street judged my return. A few I told when I met them for a coffee, but all they offered were kind words. I should never have worried.

  • Everyone told me that my safety mattered most and they were right and so I became okay with it. It wasn’t a failure. It was the best way to keep me alive. I wanted to be alive.

  • Being with my parents at home is not just going to fix things overnight. I’m under no illusion that this will be easy. I know there’s going to be a lot of rebuilding. The first five minutes in the house alone or leaving the house alone is going to be a shock, being able to go back to work is going to be a shock, I’m going to have to relearn a lot to keep myself safe. Because I don’t want to be ready to take my own life again.

  • But for me it’s the difference between life and death. And recently I wrote a list of all the reasons I want to live and the things I want to see. I want those things for myself.

  • I desperately want to live. Even if I need to relearn how to live independently. Even if it takes time.

  • Since the attempt I’ve also made it two months without self-harm, hosted the Eurovision party of dreams and felt so grateful to be alive.

  •  Although lots of it has been the hardest thing to get through it hasn’t all been and I do think it’s important to mark that.

  • If you’re feeling like taking your own life, I can’t tell you much. If I had the magic answer then you wouldn’t be reading this.

  • I can tell you I regret it. I wish it hadn’t gotten that bad. I wish I’d known to go get help sooner. I wish I could have stopped it.

  • It made my problems worse. It made the world scarier. I wanted it at the time, but not with hindsight.

  • I wish I’d known to call an ambulance or the police. I didn’t predict what was going to happen when I left the house that day, but I did know at the time.

  • I wish I’d waved over one of the strangers (who I was later informed had hovered near to me) and told them I so desperately needed help.

  • I wish it wasn’t something that I’d attempted.

  • I’ve learned a lot even in a very brief aftermath, but it was an aftermath I didn’t want to experience. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

  • A suicide attempt will knock you, crush you and probably change your life, but it doesn’t have to kill you.

  • And more than anything I’m glad it didn’t kill me.

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HELPFUL RESOURCES:

Samaritans: www.samaritans.org or call 116 123 or text SHOUT to 85258

PAPYRUS (Prevention of Young Sucide: www.papyrus-uk.org or call their Hopeline on 0800 068 41 41

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** ‘But why do people die and are they just sleeping?’ and “But why do adults drink beer and what does it do?’ are some of the tricky questions I tackle in my debut book BUT WHY? which is available to order now  and also on audiobook.**

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FANCY SOME MORE?

–  READ Gemma King’s list on What It Feels Like To Lose A Parent To Suicide and how we can all help our fellow human beings.

–  LISTEN to Matt Haig on But Why? podcast talking Mental Health and how the endless pursuit of happiness can often be our greatest undoing.

OR HOW ABOUT WRITING A LIST?

Find submission guidelines here.  All writers and topics  are welcome.

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