Why I Didn’t Kill Myself.
By Z Zoccolante
Life can be a rollercoaster of a ride. It’s jam packed with beauty and chaos, with vertical drops inducing open mouthed laughter and the anticipation of forward locomotion. You scream and smile.
But have you ever wished for death?
It’s hard for me to fathom people who’ve never thought about it, even if for a fleeting instant. There are situations that make us contemplate being absent from our lives. So what stops us?
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Sure, there’s breathtaking beauty, belly laughs with friends or strangers, dewdrops that cling to grass in the morning hours, and the night sky blooming with stars.
The world’s full of creativity and the kindness of strangers. Yet, in our darkest places, those things become distant, swallowed by the black hole that yawns open in our chests.
Sometimes the pain overwhelms.
At sixteen, I was at camp, huddled together on the grass. A long silence followed the teacher’s solemn announcement that one of our classmates had killed themselves.
Through the tears that clouded the bottoms of my eyes, the teachers round face was visible asking me if I was ok. I whispered, “I believe that if you kill yourself you go to hell.” He didn’t flinch, didn’t try to correct me, or scold me. He held my gaze as though his eyes were arms wrapping round me. He touched my shoulder and nodded, holding the space, radiating peace and love.
I was raised Christian and at that time believed that to be true. Now, I believe that God is infinitely more loving than we can comprehend. None of us knows what happens after we die and I’m not the exception. I believe God knows us and knows our pain. Still, the sadness of suicide is apparent in every aftermath.
I remember that moment because I too struggled with not wanting to exist. But what kept me from being the many like her, whose lives end too soon?
Belief is a powerful thing. I’d like to say I’ve learned my lessons through love, but the truth is that I’ve learned a lot through pain.
No, I didn’t have a suicide plan. Instead, I had this poetic notion of a black hole that I’d crawl into like a cocoon and sleep while the world went on without me.
Yet this “Christian” belief about killing myself took suicide off the table. If I think my life’s bad now, hell’s probably worse. I didn’t want to risk it.
In this way suicide wasn’t ever a tactile option, just an idea in the ether.
Fast forward to years later. I live in California working at a spa. I’ve been battling bulimia for years and losing like the pathetic failure I think I am. I’ve lost hope. I’m furious with God and in fact kinda hate him, and then feel guilt for those thoughts. But I’ve cried face down in the carpet, felt as though I’ve disappointed him, and thus have been abandoned to wander alone with this demon constantly at my side.
The infuriating thing about hating God is that you can’t hate God if you didn’t love him. Otherwise you’d be indifferent.
I decide I’ve been looking in the wrong place for God and begin to morph my beliefs with reincarnation. The books I read tell me that we keep coming back, life after lifetime. This terrifies me because it means that if I don’t heal the eating disorder in this life I’m gonna come back and face it again.
NO! I CAN’T DO THIS AGAIN.
The realization shakes me. I’m forced to take responsibility for the disorder otherwise I’ll never be free or happy and death won’t bring peace.
Crap. I have to fight.
I have to be the one to close the circle or risk another lifetime in this dance.
When I think back on these two points in time, the lessons they taught me are why I’m here today.
Christianity helped me hold on.
Reincarnation helped me recover.
It’s amazing what belief can do.
Sometimes I wonder about that girl in high school, about how long it might have taken her to emerge from her black hole. How long before her life became ok again, and then good, and then maybe beautiful? We’ll never know. There’s a pain in my chest when I consider that expansion might have been right around the corner, but she couldn’t see it because the pain shadowed everything. But what if? What if she had reached out to someone? . . .
1) Assisting others. Lots of people live with pain, emotionally and physically. If you suspect that someone is a dark place don’t dance around the issue.
- Ask the person directly:
Are you thinking of killing yourself?
Do you have a plan?
- If they answer yes, DO NOT leave them alone. Sit near them and support them as they call the suicide hotline.
Suicide Talk Hotline: 1-800-273-(TALK). 1-800-273-8255
- If they’re willing, go with them to the nearest hospital ER.
- If they’re unwilling to go to the hospital and you believe that they’ll hurt themselves, you have the option to call 911 and they’ll send someone to assist from there.
2) For yourself. If you personally are thinking about suicide, call someone you trust. Or dial any of the suicide hotline numbers below:
- Suicide Talk Hotline: 1-800-273-(TALK). 1-800-273-8255
- Suicide Hotline: 1-800-(Suicide). 1-800-784-2433
- Suicide Hotline (Bilingual): 211
3) Seeking a therapist? No lie, therapy can change your life! If you have a challenge or concern, and want to see a therapist but don’t know where to start, please read:
How to Find a Therapist you Love
And remember –
Be kind and loving to everyone you meet
because you don’t know what they’re going through.
More suicide prevention resources: SAMHSA