Suicide Prevention Week may be over, but we must still refuse to go gently, we must still coax those at risk to safety. Melanie McKinnon is a survivor sharing her special reasons life offers hope even during the darkest times.
Life is hard. I’ve wanted to die and attempted that fate more than once, but I’m here to tell you about it. So, if you’re thinking of abandoning your life, read this first. Please.
For me, at 17, life was proving to be a difficult and unforgiving kind of experience that I did not care for. No matter what the next experience was, I figured it had to be at least different than the pain I was dealing with at the time. And I’ll never forget the hollow and lonely feeling as I sat on my bed in my aunt’s house in Hawaii, and slashed the blade as hard as I could across my wrist.
Of course, as a teenager from a small town in Washington State, I was doing it all wrong and knew my pitiful efforts would not get me closer to my ultimate goal. So I downed some pills that knocked me out and woke up to a disappointed family, and a flight to the Maui Juvenile Mental Health Facility. (It was the worst way for me to see Maui for the first, and hopefully last, time.)
After a week, and a whole host of screams and memories I’ll never forget (no matter how hard I try), I can honestly say I learned a lot from what appears to be my first manic episode. The stuff the that goes down inside a mental health facility is real, with far-reaching effects. Once you’re in, you’re not getting out until you are no longer a danger to yourself, even if you say you’re not. They take suicide attempts seriously.
I’m here to help you avoid the tragic defeat of a sentence at one of these lowly places, should you find yourself at such a low point. Please consider these six good reasons to choose life instead of attempting suicide, along with some ways to help you move past this painful point:
1. The experience of a spectacular sunset. During monsoon season in Arizona, you’ll never see more glorious cloud formations at dusk against the beautiful backdrop of a palm tree-riddled skyline. Basking in the glory of something that is greater than you is a great way to get out of your head, and start thinking more about the big picture.
2. The miracle of a new baby. Those little people are grown inside humans, and it’s freaking miraculous as all get out. Just hearing one laugh will melt all your troubles away. Start with YouTube. I challenge you not to smile watching a baby belly laugh because they see a dog eating popcorn. Laughter can sometimes be the best medicine.
3. The testimony of a true believer. I’m not talking about any specific believers, here. I’m saying, listen to the conviction of someone who is passionate and try to get in their world a bit. See what makes them do the things they do, and try and emulate their driven spirit in ways that work in your life.
4. The wonder of a little child. Their eyes glow with astonishment at the smallest things. Learn from their fresh perspective on life and see what you can do to incorporate that into your character somehow. We could all use a little more wonder in our lives.
5. The growth from a difficult trial. Look at what you’ve overcome in your life already. You are stronger than you think you are. If you made it the last ten seconds, you’ll make it the next, and the next, and the next, until you’re suddenly coping with life. You’re managing, one step at a time, from some past pain, and you think you’re at the end, but you’re not. I lost a child to SIDS eight years ago, and have only survived that by taking one step at a time.
6. The mindfulness from frequent meditation. It can bring you a kind of open happiness and general peace about life that you didn’t know existed. Try guided meditation if you’re just starting out, but give it a few episodes before you dismiss it altogether. You’ll more easily be able to manage stressful situations, and I’m betting that’s something you need right now. Honestly, give it a shot.
I know what it’s like to only imagine suicide as a way out, but it’s not the only option. I’ve given you six really good reasons to live, but there are millions more. Experience and recognize these, then see how you’re feeling.
And always remember: There is help. There is hope. Hold on.
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