After an attempt, one of the most powerful things to know is that you are not alone. You may have never felt this way before— but you are not the only one who has felt the way you do now. Knowing how others have made it through may help you learn new ways to recover.
When you find out that a loved one had attempted suicide, you may feel overwhelmed with questions. Why didn’t they come to me? What did I miss? And most perplexing, What do I do now? The Lifeline for Attempt Survivors asked people to recall the aftermath of their attempts to give you some insight into what they wanted and needed from their friends and family following their darkest moments. While there’s no formula or one-size-fits-all answer, we hope learning from these attempt survivors will help you feel confident in supporting your loved one.
1. “I want to talk about my pain.”
I wished I could talk to my parents about what I was going through, but I was scared they would get mad at me. I knew that their anger would stem from the fact that they love me and hate the way I feel. But I still needed to talk about my pain, even if they didn’t know how to help. – Shelby
2. “Please don’t make me feel guilty.”
The guilt that people put on me after my attempts didn’t help. They would say things like, “Don’t you know what it would have done to me if you had died?” That just made me depressed all over again. Now on top of everything else there was all this guilt, so I punished myself. – Ashley
3. “Hug me.”
What helped me most was when people didn’t ask me questions like “Why did you want to do it?” or “What is so freaking bad about your life?!” and instead just gave me hugs and told me they loved me. I wanted to know that they still want me in their lives. – Joe
4. “Please don’t leave me alone.”
No matter how hard I fight to get away, push others far from me, just don’t let me be alone. Being alone equals time. Time to think, time to dwell, time to act. – Stormi
5. “I wish they had seen the signs and asked if I was thinking about suicide.”
I’m not blaming anyone, but I wish my family had known the warning signs of suicide and asked me if I was thinking about killing myself. I don’t know if it would have made a difference. It’s just that so many people are scared to mention the “s” word, and think that asking someone if they’re thinking of suicide is going to encourage them or put the idea in their head. That’s not the case at all. – Melanie
6. “Tell me you love me.”
I needed help and love and support. I needed them to tell me that they loved me and that I was okay as a person, that I meant something to them and that I had value and worth. Most importantly, that I didn’t need to be fixed. I just needed them to be there. – Kimberly
7. “Eventually, I’ll want to move on.”
Hovering over a person who attempted suicide can make them feel like they lost everyone’s trust. My father still won’t talk to me about my attempt, but still asks me more than ten years later, “You’re not feeling like you did in high school are you? You’re not going to do THAT again?” – Liza
One of the most difficult tasks you may face will be answering questions people will ask about your suicide attempt. The shame, guilt, and confusion can make it tough to speak about it with others. These feelings may feel magnified if people don’t respond to your attempt in a supportive way.
"No parent wants to hear that their child was in so much pain that they tried to kill themselves. It was also hard to talk to my mom because I was scared of how she’d react due to generational differences. I wondered if she’d lose trust in me, or if she would blame herself and think it had something to do with her parenting, which it didn’t. Talking about my attempt helped me heal, especially because for years I’ve been actively encouraging people to be honest and share their stories while I was silent about my own. I wasn’t living according to my beliefs, which left a big hole in my life."
Did therapy help you?
You’ve probably heard that finding a counselor can help you find long-term strategies to ease the emotional pain that led to your attempt. It can also be intimidating. You might worry that it will be awkward, uncomfortable or that talking at all about past or current thoughts, feelings or behaviors related to suicide with your counselor could in some way have a negative effect on your relationship with the counselor and/or lead immediately to hospitalization. So how can you help?
Share your therapy story in hopes of educating and empowering others to seek help and treatment.
Recovering from a suicide attempt is not easy, it takes time to heal both physically and emotionally. This site is here to help you begin to answer some of the questions about how to start down the path to recovery.
The trauma that follows a suicide attempt affects everybody. This guide helps family members understand how to best support their loved one.
It can be hard to know where to find a therapist or a support group. These online directories can help you find a psychologist, psychiatrist or support group near you.
Having a plan in place can keep you safe during difficult times after a suicide attempt.
This blog was created by the American Association of Suicidology to share that suicide can happen to anyone and that it’s possible to recover, or learn to manage, and move on.
Told through the voices of attempt survivors, their families, and the professionals in their support network, each inspiring story recounts one person’s journey from a suicide attempt to the life of hope and recovery.
This is a collection of portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors, as told by those survivors.
This groundbreaking panel was presented at the 47th annual conference of the American Association of Suicidology in Los Angeles, CA on 4/11/14.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Attempt Survivor Task Force published groundbreaking recommendations that gives voice to suicide attempt survivors and bridges the gap between suicide attempt survivors, clinicians, hospital policy makers, and suicide prevention leaders.
This video is a compilation of attempt survivors who are explaining what they need from the suicide prevention community in order to lead the way forward.
In this video, Lifeline Director Dr. John Draper explains why including attempt survivors is important to ending suicide.
This white paper summarizes key findings to allow clinicians to provide better outreach and services to suicide attempt survivors to meet their recovery needs and help prevent future suicide attempts.
This brochure gives support to attempt survivors and discusses how to move ahead after emergency department treatment for an attempt.
This brochure describes the emergency department treatment process and aids family members in coping with the aftermath of a relative’s suicide attempt.