Friday, August 11, 2017
Story #2 - National Suicide Prevention Week - #StopSuicide - by Eddie Kedge
I’m an expert on suicide. I’m not a doctor or a nurse or a mental health practitioner, still I’m an expert. I don’t conduct research or employ clinical language or obsess over “best practices.” I am an expert on suicide because I’ve been thinking of ways to kill myself since 1987. I’ll let you do the math.
I’m not here to get into specific history. If you’re inclined to find out what makes a child suicidal you can visit my page, eddiekedge.com. I’m here to discuss suicidal thinking in all its glorious forms. People have a misimpression that the suicidal people are the girls who cut or the boy who overdoses. They see big, tangible displays of grief and ah! suicide ideation. Women are better at expressing their hurt. Females attempt suicide three times as often as males in the US. However, males are four times as likely to die by suicide, meaning men attempt suicides that do not fail. I think this has to do with the social stigma around suicide and men’s inability to bear that stigma. It’s why I didn’t ever admit, even to myself, that I felt suicidal until I had the rope around my neck.
Looking back, I can see all the signs. I lay in bed at night wishing I would never wake up again. As a young person I hated myself and I hated my thoughts. I knew I stopped breathing I’d stop thinking. So I exhaled and exhaled some more and refused to inhale until the involuntary respiration that’s controlled by the brain stem took over on autopilot. I was in seventh grade and actively trying to die.
But, there is also passive suicidal behavior and that’s what I’m most expert in. This passive suicide is the reason I write, so we can understand it in ourselves and in others. These attempts at death are the result of intentional negligence for one’s safety.
I would get drunk and walk the city at midnight, hitchhiking. I entered into any car that stopped and I didn’t care what happened to me. That’s a passive suicidal behavior. Some people die of accidental overdoses and sometimes it not clear. I did my fair share of drinking and smoking and dropping acid and eating mushrooms and snorting lines but that was a party. I felt great and when I got high with my friends, I didn’t want to die. I wanted to rage all night! My therapist says it’s probably the drugs that kept me alive while I was a teen. This is not an endorsement of drug abuse, it’s an observation about how individual behaviors might be interpreted.
So me doing as many drugs as I possibly could at age 17 was more self-preserving than an attempt at self-harm. But me driving down two lane roads at age 37 and wondering to myself, why don’t I just drift into the opposite lane? is a red flag for self harm. Drinking, taking pills, then deciding to get into a hot tub? Yeah, I did that and it’s another indicator of my passive suicidal behavior. Writing a note, making a plan is an active behavior. But the point is, both types of behavior can land someone in the same grave.
I spent the majority of my life dealing with suicide ideation. There was no education and no dialogue and no support for most of that time. Now, I realize how dangerous and suicidal my behavior truly was. At the time I was unwilling to admit my suicidal thinking was severe. After ten or twenty years you sort of get used to it. Today, with blogs like this and with great outreach on social media these issues are finally being illuminated. If you recognize yourself in these paragraphs, you’re not alone. You can get help and although it’s the toughest work there is, recovery is totally worth it!