I’ve never known anyone that’s committed suicide and yet it’s been a fairly regular theme throughout my life. Not that I’m constantly plotting to kill myself or anything like that but more along the lines of, whenever things get tough, it pops into my head. My therapist called it an “intrusive thought”. Which sums it up quite nicely because it is an intruder.
I don’t ask it for to occur to me. I’m not seriously ready to end it all. Sure, I might be down in the dumps, wondering what the fuck to do with my life or struggling after a big weekend but it’s never really so bad that I would consider actual suicide. And yet the thought appears, unbidden and unwanted yet seductive and simple, an easy solution to the potentially decades long problem of being alive. Sometimes it’s just the word, sometimes it’s more suggestive. You could do this or that (‘look there’s a bus!’ or ‘there are those pills in the cupboard’ *nudge nudge*). Sometimes it’s a voice, sometimes it’s just imagery and ideas. As an adult, I recognise it for what it is: my fucked up brain doing a number on me. As a teenager, it was not so easy.
When I was about sixteen, I welcomed the intrusive thought as saviour. One day when things felt particularly gnarly, I bought a bunch of aspirin and swallowed them all. My mother never gave me tablets as a child so I had a lot of trouble getting them down. I also didn’t know how much to take so I doubt I ever stood much of a chance of succeeding. Six tablets feels like a lot when you’ve never taken any at all. Still, after the last one was down the hatch, I remember feeling drowsy and not really caring much whether I woke up or not. When I did wake up, my eyes were swollen and puffy and I was most definitely not dead and thus ends the story of my attempts at suicide.
I never tried it again. The thought of repeating it all and swallowing even more pills with no idea whether it would work or not was simply not worth the effort. We didn’t have the internet where I lived in Jamaica so I couldn’t Google search my way to certain death. Things may have ended differently if that weren’t the case and I can honestly say I’m glad they didn’t. Those feelings passed and it’s no longer anything I seriously consider.
And yet, the thoughts still occur. I couldn’t tell you why but I know they don’t hold the same power they used to. Adult me knows these feelings will pass, whereas teenage me thought they were forever. Sometimes, I might linger over the idea more than I really should but, ultimately, I think death seems like such a finality and I’ve always struggled with big decisions like that. Perhaps my love of hedging my bets has been my saving grace. If I was more inclined to go all or nothing, things might be very different.