People often feel they would not be suicidal if only life, or other people, would treat them better but suicidal thoughts and feelings run deeper than that. Why else would people who seem to have everything commit suicide? Why else would a psychologist who had all the answers she needed to help other people overcome their despair find it so hard to overcome her own?
What you are about to read is merely the story of one person’s private battle with her suicidal thoughts and feelings. It is not advice. I am making no recommendations about what other people should, or should not, do. We are all individuals. This is the road I traveled but you are not me and you may need to take a different road. If you find anything in my story useful for your own journey feel free to take it with you but, please, leave anything you feel was not helpful behind when you go.
Here is my story
I’m told the first time I talked about wanting to be dead I was only seven years old. I made my first attempt on my own life when I was about the age of ten. I tried to stab myself but only ended up with bruising because the knife was too short and too blunt to penetrate my skin. Nobody ever even knew I had tried.
I tried again a few years later by drinking a cup full of floor cleaner. I vomited it all back up and to this day I am not able to use lavender scented cleaning products. Once again – nobody even knew I had tried.
For a long time after that I settled for just doing dangerous things like crossing the road without looking or hanging from the bridge near my home using only one hand. If I lost my grip and fell so be it.
My next attempt involved packets of pain killers. I swallowed several boxes – about 200 pills in all and ended up in emergency having my stomach pumped. The doctor told me he had no time for people like me. He said he spent years of his life learning to save people and resented wasting his skill saving someone like me. He said people like me, who tried to throw away their good health, made him angry because so often he was forced to stand by and watch as people who desperately wanted to live died.
He said I would be doing him a favour if I did not try again until I was certain I would die so nobody else would have to waste their time saving me. I gave him my word that the next time I tried to commit suicide I would not fail. He said good – make sure you keep your promise. I was 15 years old. I kept my promise.
All the years that followed I never stopped wanting to die. I just could not think of a way to do it that was fail proof. I made one more attempt when I was about 18 and visiting someone who had a gun. He told me he always kept the gun loaded so I shouldn’t muck about with it. I took the gun, put the barrel in my mouth and pulled the trigger but he had lied. The gun was not loaded.
When I discovered I was pregnant I put my death wish away. I wanted the baby and it did not seem fair to bring a child into the world with no father then orphan him by killing his mother. I decided I would raise my baby and, when he turned 18, I would buy a gun and some bullets and kill myself then.
It was a good plan but, like a lot of good plans, it had some flaws. The first occurred when, soon after the birth of my son, I became a born again Christian. God forbids murder and that includes self-murder. Four years later I got pregnant again. I not only had to wait for my second child to turn 18, I had to wait until I was desperate enough to disobey God. The final flaw in my plan did not become apparent until my children got older.
Over time it became obvious, even to me, that my children loved me. I realised it did not matter how old my children got they would always want me around. My daughter said things like “I will be lucky – I will have my mum to help me with my kids when I have them” and my son said things like”My wife will be lucky – she will have my mum to help her if she needs it”. It became very clear they did not agree with my belief they would not need me after age 18.
When my son was 10 we finally got in touch with my husband’s first child. He was part of our lives for a few short months and then he committed suicide. I watched the impact it had on my family. Just eight years later my son said he was thinking about following his step-brothers example and we had to send him for counselling to prevent him from committing suicide too.
What would he do if his own mother committed suicide? All the doors to that escape seemed to close one by one. Suicide became harder and harder to plan. I needed to be willing to disobey God to start with. I also needed a fail proof method in order to be able to keep my promise to the doctor and it had to be a way that would appear to be an accident so my kids would never know it was suicide.
I felt trapped and angry. I felt God had literally condemned me to a life sentence for being born or something and it seemed so unfair.
Death became a friend I was forbidden to embrace but I spent a lot of time wishing death would come and take me. I searched the internet for ways to kill myself that would look like an accident and be impossible to survive. Every time anything happened that I didn’t like I would be overwhelmed by a desperate longing to die. Anything would set it off – a stubbed toe, being unable to find something I had misplaced, the arrival of a bill – any negative feeling or event provoked intense anger at being forced to go on living and a desperate longing to die.
A range of things happened in my life during those years. Good things – having the kids, getting married, going to university, getting my degrees, buying my own home, opening my own business, learning so much about life, people, myself. Bad things happened too – having an abortion, divorce, losing jobs and losing my home because I was not able to pay the mortgage.
None of those things had any impact on my death wish. It was always there in the background. No matter how good things were I would want to be dead the instant I felt a bad emotion – frustration, anger, sadness, disappointment. Over the years the death wish just got stronger and stronger and I became more and more desperate to find a way around the obstacles that were preventing me from killing myself.
I wasn’t afraid of hell. As far as I was concerned I was already in hell. I just didn’t want to do any kind of harm to anyone else. I didn’t want to distress my kids, traumatize whoever found my body, or hurt God’s feelings.
Over those years I worked as a psychologist. I helped people find solutions for their own problems, helped them stop feeling suicidal, helped them learn to enjoy their lives but I couldn’t do the same for myself no matter how hard I tried.
Not too long ago I was in the best position I have ever been in. I had bought a house and owned it free and clear. I opened a private practice in my home and it was doing very well indeed since there was no competition within a 200 kilometre radius. I was paying off a brand new car and all was better than it had ever been in my whole life.
It made no difference to my death wish. One day I couldn’t find my house keys and instantly I longed for death to rescue me from my miserable existence. I was so tired of constantly wanting to be dead. So tired of God never answering my pleas to be allowed to die but, once again, I begged him to let me die.
He must have been just as tired of hearing that prayer as I was of praying it because this time he gave me a mental picture of myself. In it I was carrying a heavy bag. On the bag was printed the words “Reasons Why God Should Let Me Die”. Inside the bag was every bad thing that had ever happened to me from the tiniest to the most traumatic.
I felt God saying I was carrying the bag because I had the mistaken belief I would be released from life once I collected enough reasons to convince God to let me go. He seemed to be telling me I was never going to be able to convince him to let me go and I would do better to throw the bag away and start carrying a new one around. A bag labelled: “Reasons Why God Should Let Me Live”. I somehow knew that everything I added to the old bag made the load on me heavier and harder to bear whilst anything I might add to the new bag would lighten my load and make my life easier to bear.
It wasn’t hard to decide to throw the old bag away. It was unbearably heavy after so many years adding every single tiny thing that ever went wrong in my life to it. I was so tired of constantly finding myself on my knees begging for death that I was willing to try anything to put an end to it. Now God seemed to be telling me the day would never come when he would be OK with me killing myself. I realised I would never be able to justify suicide to God no matter how many bad things happened to me. The door was shut and always would be. It was time to stop knocking on it and looking at it and thinking about it.
I made the decision to drop the old bag and pick up the new one. I spent hours and hours trying to think up just one “Reason Why God Should Let Me Live” to put into the new bag. In the end I could only come up with one. “So I can finish treating the people who are coming to me for help right now.”
It didn’t seem to make all that much difference because the next time something went wrong I was back on my knees begging to die and once again God seemed to talk to me. I got another mental picture. This time it was a picture of death himself as I was seeing him. My mental picture of death was of a warm, caring, helpful being. One who could pick me up in his arms and rescue me from my misery if only God would let him. I pictured him standing there – strong and friendly – wanting to help me and able to help me.
Suddenly God seemed to wipe away my image of death and replace it with his own.
I saw a cold, uncaring being who stood before me offering to turn me into food for worms. He leered at me and promised me defeat and humiliation. He would carry me away from the sunlight and chocolate to darkness and failure. His touch was the ice cold touch of nothingness and he cared less about me than he did about the worms he planned to feed me to. His arms were wide open but I suddenly felt no interest at all in running into them. Somehow I knew his embrace would only hurt me.
It was one thing to long for death when I saw him as someone who would rescue me from my misery and take me to a place where I would no longer have to suffer. It was quite another thing to consider running into arms that would take me to a place where I would become food for worms. I realised death cared little for me. He didn’t mind if he had to torture or torment me to take me out of the world. I saw quite clearly – Death was NOT my friend!
The image helped. I still wanted to die but I became a lot less interested in meeting up with death himself. I did not like his lack of concern for how much I might have to suffer in the act of actually dying. Little things that went wrong did not seem to be as important as they had before. I wasn’t willing to endure the uncaring touch of death because of lost keys any more.
Since I no longer had a bag to add those little things to I began to try and just shrug them off and forget them. “Sh*t happens but so does sunshine!” became my mantra at those times.
The time spent on my knees begging for death was considerably reduced by these two realisations but there were still times. I still felt I was unfairly sentenced to “life”. I still felt overwhelmed with a longing to die whenever things went wrong for me and I still always hoped God would set me free from life sooner rather than later.
My final escape from a life long death wish came a few weeks later. It was only just in time to save my life!
One night I lay in bed puzzling over why it was proving so hard to break the habit of turning to thoughts of suicide whenever I was in distress. It made no sense to keep thinking about suicide, to feel such a desperate longing to commit suicide, after all the years I had spent trying to break free of those thoughts and feelings. Over the years I had used every tool in my therapeutic bag from CBT through to thought stopping and self-hypnosis. Now it felt as if God himself had stepped in to try and help me get rid of this obsession and still I was suffering.
I had reached a point where I knew I was never going to try and kill myself no matter what happened so why was I not able to stop wanting to?
God seemed to give me another mental image. This time it was an image of me at age 10.
I saw my young self standing in the kitchen. A little creature appeared to be sitting on my shoulder. The creature seemed to be pointing at the knife and encouraging me to pick it up and use it on myself. As I picked up the knife the creature stood up and got excited. Then I saw my 10 year old self ram the point of the knife into her belly and, in that same moment, the creature leaped onto the tip of the knife and disappeared into my body.
I felt God saying a demon had entered me the day I attacked myself for the first time. He seemed to be telling me the name of the demon was Suicide and he was the reason I could not stop wanting to kill myself.
It made sense so I asked God how to get rid of the creature. I was afraid because I had read about possession and demons and how dangerous it could be casting them out. I wasn’t sure I believed in any of it but I was desperate to put an end to this cycle of misery.
I felt God telling me the demon entered me with my permission but, when I became born again, it no longer had the right to remain in me. It was there simply because I had never kicked it out. I decided I was definitely going to kick it out now but God stopped me and told me to think long and hard first.
He reminded me how small the creature was when it entered me. He said I was just a child and the demon had grown along with me. He reminded me of the biblical warning about not letting a demon back in once you have cast it out because if it comes back it will come back bigger and stronger and will bring several other demons with it.
I felt God saying if I cast the demon out I must never raise my hand against myself again or I will end up worse off than my current situation. I decided I was willing to commit to a promise to never raise my hand against myself ever again if it would set me free from the compulsive, obsessive, wish to kill myself.
I felt it was a promise I would be able to keep so I asked God how to cast the demon out. He seemed to be saying it was easy. All I had to do was repeat the following prayer out loud.
“Father, forgive me for my sins in the name of Jesus who died to pay for them. Wash me clean in the holy blood that I may be acceptable in your sight. I confess that I am saved by the sacrifice of Jesus. I have been bought with the blood of Christ and I now belong to Him. I have repented of the sin of suicide and the demon of suicide has no right to reside in me any longer. I ask God, in the name of Jesus, to bind the demon of suicide. I demand that you, the demon of suicide, leave me and go back to where you belong. It is my will, and the will of God, that you go back to your true home and leave me alone. In the name of Jesus Christ I order you, the demon named suicide, to leave me – NOW!”
I prayed the prayer out loud and, a few seconds afterwards, I sighed. Part of me knew the demon had ridden the sigh out of my body but I felt no different. I rolled over and went to sleep.
Over the following days it began to dawn on me that something really was different after all. Things happened, things went wrong, but my reaction to them was slightly different now. I didn’t feel the need to grit my teeth and chant my mantra about sh*t happening any more. I seemed to be able to just shrug them off and accept them.
Then someone broke into my house and stole the spare key to my car. The car was not insured. I still had two and a half years worth of monthly payments to make on it so life took a serious turn for the worse as I frantically tried to find a way to stop the thief from stealing my car and leaving me with big problems.
It took me almost two days to sort things out and get insurance reinstated on the car.
I lay in bed and realised not once in the preceding days had I considered suicide!
A few hours later I heard my car door slam. It was the beginning of a nightmare that went on for an hour and included five people fighting me for possession of my car. In the end I was holding the door to my house closed while they threw themselves at it trying to get in to get the key to the steering wheel lock. The incident cost me my car, left me suffering post traumatic stress disorder that forced me to leave my home, my business, my hopes and dreams and even made me question if there was a God.
I suffered a lot of trauma through those hours and the days, weeks and months that followed. Many times I wished I was dead but not once, not one single solitary time did I feel the old familiar obsession, the yearning, the compulsion to commit suicide!
When the demon of suicide was booted out he took his adoration, his obsession, his love of himself with him.
There were times during that experience when I did think about suicide. The darkest time was when I questioned the very existence of God. Suddenly I did not believe it mattered if I suicided. In my distress I stopped caring if my kids would know I had killed myself and I picked up another knife and looked at my wrists.
There was no compulsion. I wasn’t longing to commit suicide. It was just an idea. Something I had a right to consider. I toyed with the idea of making just a little cut to see how much it would hurt. I could just run the blade over my skin lightly but, as I thought about it, I felt the presence of something dark and strong breathing over my shoulder.
Instinctively I knew if I let the blade of that knife touch me I would be lost. The old compulsion would return and I would not be able to resist it. If that happened I would kill myself for certain. I was exhausted from lack of sleep, terrified of every noise, in the worst state of mind I have ever been but I knew right then that I did not want to be a quitter. I did not want to be beaten. I did not want to commit suicide. Maybe there was a God and maybe there wasn’t. Maybe there are demons and maybe there aren’t. None of it mattered to me then as much as not going back to that relentless obsession with suicide.
I put the knife down and I walked away from my death wish for good.
I can’t say I have never thought about dying since then. I have thought about it when times have been grim but the idea pops into my mind then just as quickly leaves. I am still not afraid to die but I never long for death the way I used to any more.
On the other hand I am now able to enjoy little things like sunny days or a warm bed on a cold night. My bag of “Reasons Why God Should Let Me Live” is filling up real fast and everything I put into it makes me happier and more content. Life no longer feels like a sentence, a punishment for being born. It feels much more like a gift these days.
Go to my reasons to live page for a list of reasons other people have given for continuing to live when they are thinking about committing suicide.