Let’s stop referring to suicide as ‘doing something stupid’
Whenever I heard this, it would translate in my mind to ‘they think you’re stupid, do it’
Bronagh Loughlin: “People with mental health issues who are experiencing these incredibly dark thoughts just want an ear to listen to how they are feeling.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill
I remember the day I tried to take my own life. I had a lot going on, I was dealing with an eating disorder, bullying and the passing of a family member I loved dearly. My mind was racing with thoughts, thoughts, thoughts and it was not slowing down. I was not getting a moment of silence.
It was like having someone constantly scream words at you without stopping.
Although all my mind was doing was thinking, it was as though I could not think clearly.
I reached my threshold; I was fed up of listening to these thoughts and there was no way to actually escape them.
I thought the only way to escape my thoughts and my feelings was to end everything.
My eating disorder consumed me; it was the period of my life where I experienced the most depressed thoughts. It was almost as if I was drugged because I don’t recognise the person I was then.
With the bullying, it was in person and online, and not restricted to any specific area. There was no escape. It broke me down to the ground and left me feeling so utterly wounded.
I was already self-harming as a result of this bullying, in school bathrooms and at home. I think, once I reached the point of being physically able and okay with harming myself, I was no longer afraid to harm myself to the point of death.
Before this day, I regularly thought about suicide and had thoughts of suicide ideation. I was so consumed with all the bad feelings that I was convinced to feel nothing anymore and to disappear would be the solution.
It’s not difficult to feel this way when you are overwhelmed with bad emotions.
Whenever I spoke to someone about feeling this way (granted I probably always chose the wrong people, those who never considered this in their lives), they would say things such as, “don’t do anything stupid” or not know what to say and look at me like I was some kind of a monster, not understanding why I wanted out of life and its torture.
Whenever I heard the words “don’t do anything stupid”, it would translate in my mind to they think you’re stupid, do it.
I absolutely hate this phrase.
The reality is that, when you are going through the motions in your head and considering suicide, it does not feel stupid. Rather, it truly does feel like a solution to all the pain and suffering you are dealing with. It’s like turning off the lamp, you turn the switch and the pain is gone for you. Although it may not be gone for the people who love you, your pain is finally put to rest as are these prevailing thoughts that just will not stop.
It’s not an act of attention, something that is just thought of, it is something that sufferers consider for a long time, truly weighing up the pros and cons of taking this action.
Light at end of tunnel
There’s nothing stupid about suicide. Suicide is extremely upsetting and illustrates the true power behind someone’s pain – that they cannot possibly see any light at the end of the tunnel, that they have the ability to take themselves out of it all.
It is not the ideal death for anyone, but, unfortunately, this is how a lot of people feel and it would be nice if when they reach out for help from others, even if they have not yet experienced these emotions, they could respond with sensitivity and show they care. It’s not easy alone coming to terms with the fact that you want to take your own life, never mind gaining the courage to tell someone you feel this way. The words, “I want to take my own life” do not just come out easily.
As someone with mental health issues who has experienced this, I always felt uncomfortable admitting to these feelings as they are made out to be stupid, mad, abnormal and I continuously worried about the judgment I would receive if I owned up to these emotions and told others.
The reality of the situation is “don’t do anything stupid” is not the best advice to someone thinking about taking their life. We need to welcome these discussions and allow people to open up to us about suicide and not make it out to be such a strange concept.
As humans, we all feel pain and suffer in some regard and, unfortunately, some experience more pain than others so we need to make these conversations normalised even if we cannot understand what this is like. We need to respond with care, understanding and nothing triggering.
Some may say “This is hard, anything I could say could trigger someone” but that’s simply not true.
If it is a thing that you don’t know what to say to show you care, show them you care through your actions. Sometimes, you don’t need to say anything; oftentimes, people with mental health issues who are experiencing these incredibly dark thoughts just want an ear to listen to how they are feeling.
Remember, if you find it overwhelming to hear what the person is saying to you, imagine what it must be like in their mind, fighting this alone.
– Pieta House, 1800 247 247, text HELP to 51444.
– Samaritans, 116 123, email@example.com.
– Suicide Or Survive, 1890 577 577, firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Aware, 1800 80 48 48, email@example.com.
– Childline, 1800 666 666, text 5101.
– HSE Drugs and Alcohol helpline, 1800 459 459, firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Traveller Counselling Service, (01) 868 5761, 086 308 1476, email@example.com.
– HSE Crisis Text Service, Text 50808.
– St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, (01) 249 3333, firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Alone, 0818 222 024, email@example.com