Many taboos in our society are being broken every day. Through sites like this, social media, and education, we have made a lot of progress. But one big one remains: suicide. Suicide and the issue of mental health is still shrouded in whispers and shame. Wherever you go- Albania to Alabama- those that suffer are condemned.

After a recent spate of celebrity suicides both in America and the UK, the topic of suicide has been all over the media.

The usual response is that the person was selfish, self absorbed, and inherently “broken”. Some express sympathy for those left behind, but rarely for the person who killed themselves. Well, I am here to tell you a few truths about suicide.

I wrote my first suicide note at the age of 13. People bullied me in school, and my father was drunk and abusive. He had just told me that I was not wanted and that I was responsible for the way he had become. Seeing the pain that my mother was in, I felt guilty. I felt the easiest and best thing to do would be to take my own life. Nobody wanted me anyway, so what would be the problem? However, I didn’t attempt suicide on then. Instead I channelled my trauma into drink, drugs, and unsuitable men, starting on a path of self-destruction that would last 16 years.

Over that timeframe, I tried to kill myself four times. The last time resulting in me losing consciousness and being moments away from death before medical assistance reached me. At the time, I lived in a small town and the news spread like wildfire. People called me names, told I was selfish, laughed and whispered when they saw me. My boss told me he had considered firing me because he thought I was a liability. It took every ounce of strength I had to step outside my door and face the world.

So why did I do it?

I am not a religious person. I don’t see, human life as this special thing that should be prized above all others. No creature or other beings life is more or less valuable than mine. Dying is not a fear of mine and I do not fear the wrath of any omnipresent being. When you combine this with the incredible traumas I experienced throughout my early life and the violent, verbal, and emotional abuse I suffered at the hands of my father, life begins to take on less meaning.

I became convinced that my birth was a “mistake.”

Every time something went wrong in my life, my mind spiraled. I thought that it was because I shouldn’t exist anyway, that my existence was upsetting the natural order of things. When the darkness inside me overcame me and I reached for the pills, I genuinely thought I was doing the world a favour.

The pain that a suicidal person feels is incomparable to anything else. Unless you have experienced it, you should refrain from passing judgement. It is a soul destroying, all encompassing constant that even sleep does not relieve. You become so desperate for the pain to stop that suicide becomes the only way out. It feels like it’s the only release and the only way that you will ever truly find peace. Also, in my case, I was sure it was the only way that people around me would ever be happy.

When you feel that there is no place in the world for you and you suffer the greatest pain one can ever imagine, there is only one logical way out.

At that moment, it is not selfish at all. You genuinely believe that you are doing the world a favour and that your loved ones will eventually breathe a sigh of relief.

Now I am “better”, there are still times that the thoughts cross my mind. However, they are more out of habit than anything else. Do I think I would do it again? Probably not. If I want help, I seek it. I know the warning signs that have previously pushed me to the edge. Now, I exist for reasons that are not tied to how other people treat me.

I will not to be forgotten. I will not to be dismissed like my father did to me. Now, I refuse to live based on the approval of anyone else. From those dark days I have turned my life around. I live each day for me and those that are worthy enough to have earned my love. I do not waste my time with emotional vampires and I have removed all toxic people, situations, and influences from my life. Finally, I enjoy being me- flaws and all.

So how can you help someone that feels like I did?

The answer that they need to help themselves first. If they do not want to reach out for help, they will not and you cannot force them. In fact, pressuring someone who is suicidal into therapy or medication will often have the opposite effect.

We need to be able to reach out without feeling judged. It needs to be easier to take time off work for mental health reasons. People should be able to express their feelings without being labelled as mental or defective. We need a healthier attitude towards mental health, so that we can truly help the suicidal around us.

If you think a loved one is experiencing suicidal thoughts, check up on them. There are many resources set up to help them, or to help you reach out to them in a productive and helpful way. Some of those include:

Suicide is no joke. It’s serious, it’s painful, and it can be hard for someone in the midst of a depression to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Be there for your friends, reach out, and don’t be afraid to get help for yourself.