Tuesday December 11th, 1990
Right now I am sitting in front of my locker and no one knows what I have done. I’m scared. Scared that everyone will hate me and no one will understand what I’ve just done. Scared to live though. I really am. I honestly can’t see a future. I want someone to help me, to take away the hurt and make me happy but no one can.
Please forgive me for I am so sorry.
That was part of the suicide note I wrote on my 17th Birthday. It was about 4 weeks after I had BEGGED for help and sat in the Hospital Emergency room with my high school guidance counselor for 5 hours. I had two wonderful teachers that had noted something was wrong and they worked so hard to get me the help I needed. Children’s Mental Health services and awareness in 1990 was even less than it is today. I had “held on” and managed to see a Psychiatrist through the emergency room and he wrote a prescription for Prozac, with 2 refills, without a second glance. There were no other services or treatment offered, just the prescription and an appointment for 6 weeks later for follow up.
My loving and concerned, yet ill-informed parents filled it and gave me the bottle to administer to myself. I took it for several weeks and was not feeling any better. The day after I got the prescription re-filled was my birthday and I was just more miserable and more lost, lonelier and more desperate. When I downed the contents of the bottle on my lunch hour at school I hadn’t planned to do it that day or in that way but thinking and writing about my death had been the primary focus of my life for quite some time by that point.
I remember standing there, stunned, staring at the empty bottle and thinking “now what?” Part of me felt a little exhilarated with the knowledge that my horrible existence would soon be over. I sat at my locker, my heart racing, and wrote the note. Then I realized I would likely pass out at my locker and be found unconscious or dead by some unsuspecting student. I felt horribly guilty that someone would find me like that. This wasn’t at all what I had envisioned when I thought of the various ways to end my life. I began to panic. Eventually I went to my guidance counselor and handed her the note I had written.
Beyond that was a long and very painful path of multiple hospitalizations and medication trials and repeated suicide attempts. I had some horrible and scary experiences while hospitalized as a 17-year-old in an adult Psychiatric ward. I also met some amazing people along the way who began to help me rebuild my life and uncover the causes of my severe clinical depression. I lost and found friends along the way. My parents endured unimaginable pain and sorrow. With the help of a therapist provided by the hospital where I had been an inpatient, I was able to do a great deal of healing. With the right medications I was able to move past the deep depression and anxiety and function again.
20 years later I took my own 11-year-old son to the emergency room after he brought me housecoat belts and rope, begging for me to tie him up because he was worried he was going to hurt himself. He repeatedly told us that he wanted to die. That life was too hard and he wanted to die so it all would stop. He begged us to keep him safe. We were sent home from the emergency room. There were no beds available; we were told there was nothing they could do. Thankfully we didn’t listen. We made calls, pounded on doors and refused to stop until he received the treatment that he needed.
It goes without saying that I am glad I did not die that day in 1990. But my pain was so real and so raw I still break into a sweat when I think about those days. I am glad my son was able to tell us that spring how horrible and desperate he felt. Unfortunately too many people die from suicide every day. The general public often thinks those that attempt or die from suicide are weak or desperate for attention. Mental illness is as much a true illness as Cancer and Diabetes. People who are struggling with any form of a mental illness need our support and assistance not our judgement. It’s not that they want to die – they just don’t know where to go, who to talk to or what to do.
They just want the pain to end.