Five years ago in June, the weekend before my junior cert was due to start I had my first suicide attempt. It may have appeared sudden for my family and friends but for me it was something, which had been building up inside me for a number of years. I was feeling miserable, experiencing both physical and emotional pain at the time and I just couldn't cope any more, I couldn't see a future and all I wanted was some relief and at the time the only way I felt I could get the relief was from taking my own life.
People say its selfish to take you're own life but I felt like a burden, I felt that taking my life would make things easier for my family, give them one less thing to deal with and I felt that they would be happier without me, most of my thoughts were based around how much easier their life would be without me.
Looking back now its clear that my first suicide attempt was the beginning of my journey with mental health issues, it was at this time that I was diagnosed officially with depression despite having suffered from feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and despair for years before hand. There were many more hard years, seeing two more suicide attempts/gestures, an addiction to self-harm, depression, anxiety and finally an admission to an inpatient facility at the age of 17 and while things improved significantly after my four month stay in hospital I was still on a very rocky road, struggling to control self-harm, taking medication and attending therapy weekly. After my transition from CAMHS, Child, and Adolescent Mental Health Services I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, which saw me attending therapy twice every week for 6 months as part of my treatment as well as remaining on medication to help with my mood.
Had I not panicked during my first suicide attempt at the age of 15, had it been successful I wouldn't be here writing this today, who knows where I would be, but I do know that my family would still be trying to pick up the pieces, trying to understand my decision to take my own life, blaming themselves, trying to figure out if they could have done more; if my first suicide attempt had been successful my family would have been destroyed.
A friend of mine recently lost a family member through suicide, something that I have not experienced directly, but since the death of her brother and although she may not realize it has helped me more than she can imagine. Her honest accounts of the affect her brothers death has had on her has opened my eyes and made me realize that although I thought I was doing the right thing, and that taking my own life would have prevented further pain for my family, I was wrong. In her honest and inspiring Facebook posts, my friend talks about the reality of suicide, how much of an effect it can really have on a person, how we need to be open and talk about things, how we need to strive to tackle the sigma of mental health to prevent further deaths by suicide.
"Coming home on a Friday and saying hi to you in the graveyard isn't the same as going up to your room to see your cheeky face."
My family would have never gotten to see my face again; rather they would have had to rely on memories and photos to keep me alive. They would never have the chance to huge or kiss me again, hold my hand or even do what brothers do best and fight with me again. They would have had to go to a graveyard to talk to me, to share stories, stories which they would wish I was apart of, stories they could tell with me rather than to me.
On her brothers 18th Birthday Aisling wrote
"There were balloons in the house for all your other celebrations. Now they’ll be tied to the cross on your grave. (And when your proper headstone is there, it will read “17 years old”…and that itself is a tragedy.)
I never knew what to get you for a birthday present. This year I wish I could have back such a minor problem. (I’d buy you all the presents in the world just to have you back.)"
To celebrate a birthday my family would have had to gather around a graveyard, wishing me another happy birthday and wondering why I took my own life, and why I couldn't hang on just a little bit long to get help, wondering what they could have done differently. Staring at old birthday family photos wondering when things changed, wondering what was so horrible in my life that made me feel the way I did, that made me take my own life in the hope of seeking some peace. They would never get to see me grow up, blow out 16 candles, 17 candles, 18 candles but rather just remember seeing me blow out 15 candles. They would never get to struggle with buying presents, hoping to get me something, which I would love and cherish, rather a simple bunch of flowers would be placed on my grave.
On world suicide prevent day Aisling wrote
"Suicide doesn't solve the problem...it just causes a whole lot more. Another grave and a lot of tears."
When I was 15 and first attempted to take my own life, suicide was the solution, it was the only thing I felt would help me but now I know this not to be the case, in fact it is the exact opposite. When I wanted to take my own life I wasn't thinking about birthdays or saying hi to my family, I wasn't thinking about the everyday things that would be different, the little things that my family would focus on in my absence but simply that by me not being here my family would be better off when in reality I now know that it would have just caused more pain and heartache for them.
I wrote this post, fighting back the tears, trying to keep it together and focus on the fact that I am still here but I couldn’t keep it together knowing that pain and hurt I almost caused, knowing that my family’s lives would have changed has I been successful in my attempts. I couldn’t keep it together knowing that my dad would have had to visit a wife and a daughter at a graveyard, my brothers visiting a sister and a mother. It is only now, almost 6 years later that I can truly realize the impact my death would have cause my family. It is now 6 years later that I have can honestly, hand on heart say I am doing well and that it because of talking! Aisling's brave and honest posts about her life since her brothers death have helped keep me focused on staying health, looking after myself and talking when I need to!
Suicide doesn’t solve the problem and yes when your in the moment it seems like it does, trust me I know, but the one thing which is import to remember from reading this post is that it doesn’t sole the problem and things can and will get better. 6 years after my first suicide attempt I’m still here, thriving, in my final year of college, a qualified coach, a scout leader, an accomplished blogger, out of weekly therapy for almost 6 months and free self-harm for almost 10 months! I never thought I would be here to celebrate my 21st birthday but I was! I made it and so can you! Talking can make the world of difference!!