Almost exactly one month ago I made a plan to kill myself. I had the means necessary and had every intention of carrying that plan out. I knew the details of how effective the method usually is, how long it takes, and what the pain factor would be. I knew about how long it would be before someone would look for me. I was ready.
At one o’clock in the morning I received two text messages from someone. I had sent that person a couple texts the day before but wasn’t sure if they all went through. So, either one of them went through late, or the person’s response came through late. Either way, when I woke up that morning at 5:25 AM, the morning I planned to commit suicide, I had two text messages from someone checking in on me. I read them but did not really process fully what they said. About 5 minutes before carrying out my plan I checked my phone. The text messages happened to still be open on my screen. I read them.
“Ride the wave. The intensity will pass. Anything will feel overwhelming.”
“You are trying so hard. Remember the work you’ve done and that this is possible.”
I am still here. I did not kill myself. I did not attempt to kill myself.
I once read that people who attempt suicide typically feel as though they have no connection with others. I imagine that most people, suicidal or not, ask themselves the question I have been asking myself over the past several months: “Do I matter?”
It may seem very cliche when people say, “check on your friends,” but it is not at all cliche to me. “Checking in” on your friends is a way of saying “you matter to me.” It was not a friend who checked in on me that morning, but it was someone who cared. “Checking in” on someone does not mean you need to ask them if they are thinking about suicide, but sometimes that may be necessary. “Checking in” with someone has a lot to do with connection. Figure out what someone needs, wants, or likes and be intentional about those things. Connect with them, but be authentic.
Here are some suggestions for me:
I like coffee. Ask me if I want to meet you somewhere. You don’t have to pay for me.
I like working out at the gym. Pay the $7 and come with me one day. Or join and come with me every day.
I like reading. Talk to me about what I am reading, or better yet, pick up the same book and read it with me.
I like writing. Ask me what my ideas are or what I am currently working on. Give me ideas of what you would like to read from me.
I like people. Ask me if I want to hang out. I would even help you fold your laundry. Or, you could help me with mine. Stop by. My neighbor frequently sees me outside and walks over just to say hello.
I get really tired. Ask me if there is something you can do for me and/or with me. Better yet, be specific and ask if you can do ______________.
I have needs. If I ask for something, it is weighing on me. Can you help or know someone who can? If I express that something is bothering me, be willing to listen. Be present. Ask questions. Act interested. You do not have to know what it is like to walk in my shoes in order to talk with me or sit with me. I would do the same for you in a heartbeat.
Do not give up on me if I turn you down though. It means everything to me that someone wants to connect with me, but it does not mean I have the emotional, physical, or mental energy to actually do any of those things.