When I learned Robin Williams had committed suicide, I was in shock for days. How could someone who brought laughter and happiness to so many not be able to have some of that happiness left over for himself? I grieved and mourned, like the rest of the world. For those of you who drove his daughter off Twitter with your comments, I condemn you. She needed you, and you let her down. I wish I could be baffled by suicide, but sadly I am not.
I am going to tell you something difficult: I was once considering suicide – even up to the planning stage, when I was discovered and reported. I was 17. My parents were divorcing, my younger sister was rebelling against the rules and going through her migraines, my brother wanted to live with his father, my elder sister was doing her thing, raising her little boy. I don’t know if it was a cry for attention – because some people think that. I was failing my classes, getting my dreams dashed, I had no friends – the list goes on and on. When living with autism in high school, one is usually bullied and left out of things, as I was, so I had no friends to speak to. I think I was trying to end the pain, which would end anyway soon – and through some more pain, learn I was stronger than ever.
The events of the day I was discovered go like this: I had decided to stay home that day, because I had the flu, I think. Late in the morning, I was confronted by my mother, who was devastated at the news. I remember little about the conversation, except she said, “I can’t lose you.’ It tore me to my heart, because I thought my death would make people happier. That’s what people think when they consider death as a way out- that only positivity could come out of it.
My mother took me to the school nurse, where I told her of my formulating plan – something to do with knives. Since I was discovered, there was only one thing I could do: tell people how much I was hurting, and watch as they rejected me – but they never rejected me. I could not tell my acquaintances; there was no one close enough to talk with. Then, I was taken to the doctor’s office, where I was interviewed, and by that evening I was in the psych ward of a local hospital. I ate cold roast beef, Brussels sprouts and some sort of starch dish – I cannot remember. This would begin a long journey which would involve pills, regaining my love of certain things, and finding out who my true friends are. It would last for years, through divorce, abuse and being completely alone, but now I am back.
I can’t say I haven’t gone back down that dark path since, because I was starting to go when my sisters kicked me out of their house and sent me back to my mom, but I have never been so far again. It’s only under extreme pressures that things like this enter my mind, but it’s been thankfully only once.
You know something? I have said the word “I” more times in this article than all the others. That is the tragedy when you’re only thinking of yourself – you get down on the subject you’re thinking of when it’s you. Perhaps thinking of myself less – getting out of my head and into others’ problems – is the key to having a purpose.
Want to know what goes on in the mind of someone considering death? Here are a few thoughts:
1) Negative Self-Talk: “Everyone would be better off if I was gone.” “I’m a burden.” “I’m a source of tension.” “Things would be better without me.” When you think your presence is only negative, you tend to think it needs to go.
2) Toxic Relationships: I hope reading the article is giving you a clue as to who or what was influencing my thinking – people letting me down. Hopefully, you can find someone to go to when things like this happen.
3) A Poor Self-Image: People with autism are viewed as a burden and a tragedy, as are most people with so-called disabilities. Sometimes you need to have the person think of a scenario where their specific talents are necessary for the survival of society. For the autistic, for example, maybe the lesser knowledge of social graces can finally bring the truth out considering a bad situation. If somebody wants to remind me what good things about a person like me has, please let me know.
4) Mental Illness: Depression and other illnesses are common in people who think death is a way out. As a matter of fact, it is often a sign that there is an illness there.
5) Alcohol / Drugs: Fortunately, this was not a factor in my contemplations, but getting a mind-altering substance into somebody is usually a dangerous prospect, especially when death is concerned. You’ve seen the beginning of “The First Wives Club,” where the wife was insanely drunk when she leapt to her death. There is truth in that. Self-medicating is a sign something is wrong.
These are a few things which get inside the head of a person on the verge of suicide. I wish I did not know it intimately, because I could have led people down a dark, unforgiving path of death.
I hope talking about my experiences does not glorify suicide, rather I hope it drives you to get away from it. I know for a fact my family would never recover had I gone through with it – and I would not be here to triumph today.
National Suicide Hotline: