Andrew's story (unedited):
I always thought that I would never try to take my own life. That I knew how it would affect my family, and that I was strong enough.
But when my life took a turn for the worst, I became very depressed and started planning how to do it. Of course I told myself that I still wouldn't do it. I now know that this is one of the stages and that if it arises you need to get help straight away. But I thought I was OK.
Then it just happened. It was as if a switch was flicked, and suddenly everything made sense. If I did this everyone would be happy. Nobody would be upset. Of course this is crazy, but at the time it just made sense to me. Having planned how, all I had to do was to follow the plan. I don't think people realise just how hard it is to end your own life.
My first attempt I sped up in my car and ran it into a parked car on the side of the road. I ended up with whiplash and a destroyed car. I felt so embarrassed and told everyone that I had blacked out.
The second attempt I threw a rope over a tree branch in the forest, tied a noose, and stepped off an embankment. The branch broke, and I was left wet and dirty, with another sore neck and was so embarrassed again.
The last time I threw a rope over a beam at home and stepped off a stool. My wife heard the noise and cut me down. I still have problems with my neck and lower back.
I can assure you that I love my family and would never want to leave them this way. But my depressed mind was not thinking properly. No rational thinking person would ever think that this was a sensible thing and that everyone would be happy about it. I have also been in the situation where everything seemed so bad that I just wanted to die. Once again the thoughts are not normal. At those times the world just seemed to close in around me, and I was not seeing anything else.
I fought the urge to throw myself in front of traffic. I lay on the road around a bend, waiting to be ran over. My first attempt in the car was like this as well. But in all of these attempts, the one thing in common was the planning.In the past I have reached the planning stage again, and have instantly called the ambulance. I know that if I let it go that I may enter that irrational zone, and once there I have no control. It may make me feel stupid and weak when I have made that call, but at that time I am in control. I would rather feel stupid than run the risk of damaging my children forever.
So please, talk to children. talk to your friends and family. If anyone is depressed or under a lot of strain, ask them if they have thought about how they would do it. If they have, ask them to get help. Because there is nothing that makes sense about suicide. Its irrational, and the mind plays tricks on you. If you throw in things like alcohol and drugs it makes even less sense.
And for those left behind it leaves questions of why?, was it me?, and what did I do wrong? All of these are valid thoughts, but understand that the person who takes their own life is not thinking that its a bad thing for those who live, if they can think of them at all. Their mind is simply not working properly. Its not selfish, because there are no selfish thoughts at that time.
So please remember, its ok to talk about suicide. Talking about it won't make it happen. And if someone is planning how to do it, then they need help urgently. Like all parts of mental illness, deep depression can be helped. Reaching out and talking, hugging and holding can make a huge difference. There is help out there. We can help to Stop the Deaths.
Please contact your local support services if you need support, advice or assistance.
It's time to talk about suicide, The Courier (25 March 2016)
I told the truth in my sister's obituary, so that others might choose to live, The Washington Post (23 March 2016)
We need to stop calling suicide 'selfish', Thought Catalog (12 August 2014)