a reflection for today, September 10th, World Suicide Prevention Day.
suicidal thoughts are complex and suicide has the potential to affect anyone - no matter someone’s diagnosis (or lack of one), age, socioeconomic situation, or education level. we’re all human. we all need other people. and sometimes we need help from trusted mental health professionals. it’s okay to not be okay. it’s okay to ask for help. it’s okay to be human.
the earliest memory I have of suicide touching my life was the death of a classmate when I was in grade eight. but the importance of a support system only became apparent to me in high school; as some of those close to me and I faced challenges far beyond our years, we found having a few key people to open up to (including one another, trusted adults, and counsellors) made things a bit better.
at first, “talking about suicide” meant, to me, “reaching out for help”. that was true in those months immediately following my suicide attempt twelve summers ago, when I was starting to process what had happened. the first year after my attempt was one of reaching out, of unravelling what I was feeling and what I wanted for my future. it was a year of awe and boredom. while reaching out remains essential for anyone at any age who needs help, as my healing progressed and more processing occurred, the meaning of “talking about suicide” expanded for me to include the sharing of my story as a way of raising awareness.
even as I grew comfortable talking about my experience with suicide, my first public writings were vague. I gave myself time and space to naturally get more comfortable, and eventually I found my writing opening up. for a few years, owl tree whimsy even had a section where I discussed healing from self-harm and suicide, as well as some of the roots of my suicide attempt, including sexual assault. a more recent piece, “this life is mine” touched on another root, the chaotic neighbourhood I had lived in, and also discussed my evolving relationship with my attempt anniversary.
last week, on the same day I wrote “the winter room”, I found an old note from someone else who had experienced sexual assault. their note reminded me how healing from any type of trauma is a process involving stages, that healing takes time, and how useful, but difficult, avoiding blaming oneself can be. their note reminded me of the importance of telling our stories. when I share my experiences through writing, the process of editing helps me further sift and focus my thoughts; I end up with a feeling of lightness and closure, the piece no longer a part of me, but still a window into one of many paths I've travelled.