*TRIGGER WARNING* This post contains content pertaining to a real suicide attempt. Although results were not fatal, content in this post can be triggering to those whose trauma and/or experiences relate to suicidal ideation, suicide attempt, and severe depression.
*DISCLAIMER* This is a real story of my friend’s suicide attempt from 20+ years ago. He wishes to remain anonymous, but wants others to know his story if it means it could help even one person who is struggling with mental health. I will refer to him in this post as Bruce Banner (Hulk reference, anyone?) and as Bruce for short.
I will briefly tell you the story of the little boy and then proceed to the interview with Bruce that I conducted after he told me he wanted his story to be published publicly.
Bruce always journaled his thoughts and experiences once I told him about my blog and how helpful it was for my own mental health to write about the adversities I went through. In his writings, he always mentioned this Little Boy. It can be referred to as one’s intuition or your personal “gut feeling”; he refers to it as a younger version of himself. That little boy represented the doubtful, more cynical side of Bruce. It always seemed to me that he was almost the devil on the shoulder, encouraging him to self destruct and brought about a lot of negative energy.
Q: What do you want people to know about you and your suicide attempt?
A: That it can happen to anyone. I grew up in a happy home, albeit sheltered. Everything just happened all at once and the void seemed to encompass everything. It seemed easy to float away in a pill overdose. But even though I felt no one was there that I could confide in, there is ALWAYS somebody. I’m very fortunate to be alive and healthy.
What was the primary reason you decided to overdose on pills?
Because I’m a coward at heart. I didn’t have access to a gun and I would be too afraid of missing or making a mess. Pills, however, seemed easy, like I would just go to sleep.
What made you get to the point that you seriously contemplated suicide?
I’d lost the only relationship I’d thought I would ever have. I squandered a partial scholarship to a good school. I let my parents down and honestly? I was probably detoxing from all the alcohol I had been drinking.
What do you regret most in life?
Letting my parents down by flunking out of school.
So what happened on the day you attempted suicide?
A couple of days before … I’d started slipping into a deep funk. I knew that I had a bunch of the extra strength codeine Tylenol’s that I had gotten while in Canada. I knew that an overdose on codeine could be fatal. I compartmentalized a lot and received an email from my parents on their vacation saying they hadn’t heard from me and hoped school was okay. They wanted me and my girlfriend to come over since they had never met her before. I didn’t know how I could tell them that I flunked out of school and that I had lost my girlfriend. I figured I couldn’t tell them because they would see me as a failure and would be angry. That night I cried off and on and kept taking pulls off the vodka bottle, but couldn’t seem to get drunk. I fell asleep and woke up to my alarm clock to go to work. I went into the bathroom and just couldn’t face work or the people there. So I opened the codeine bottle and took a handful. I stared for a moment and then remember thinking, “Fuck, I’m committed to this,” and took the rest of the bottle. I didn’t want to die in my apartment so I told my friend when he came to the door that I had the flu and to take me to my parents’ house. I started to get sleepy and sweaty and when I got to my parents’ house, I went to my old bedroom and passed out, crying.
What was the first thing you remember from waking up from your overdose?
How sick I felt. Shame about what I’ve done, yet relief that I wasn’t dead.
How long were you unconscious for?
About a day and a half, on and off.
What was the little boy aka your gut telling you to do in this situation? Did you try to reach out to a Higher Power for help?
No. Then, I had no concept or any belief of God or a higher power at all. My gut and my mind said that this was the best answer.
What were your mental health coping mechanisms before and after the event? Tell me about your time in therapy.
I didn’t have coping mechanisms before or even after that, really. I bottled everything up and then I would reach a point where I needed to party to release steam as it were. I went to therapy for about six months after, but I couldn’t open up because I didn’t trust or have a relationship with the therapist. I honestly wasn’t ready to open up.
How long was it until you confided in someone about your attempt?
I told a friend of mine. At the time, I didn’t know her well, if at all. I told her years after the attempt, maybe even ten years afterward. It came out when we were bar hopping.
What else should be noted about the event? Or anything mental health related that you want to tell the readers?
That life is precious. There’s always somebody out there that can help. That even though suicide seems like a viable answer, it’s selfish and can destroy everyone around you.
As hard as it is to hear stories like Bruce’s, it helps me, and maybe some of you, self reflect on the importance of keeping up the good fight. You, me, and Bruce are warriors, not survivors. Each moment we are alive, we are constantly fighting the little boy inside our chests and are conquering the will to die. It’s not easy to be alive and prosper, but it’s worthwhile.
I encourage all of you to continue reading and learn about mental health issues and read stories of strength like this one because it’s real; he’s been on the brink of death and has conquered the grave. He wasn’t/isn’t done kicking ass quite yet and neither are you.
A little more about my friend Bruce:
This overdose was in 1996 when access to mental health care information was more scarce and definitely had a greater stigma than there is today. But in 2002, he met his beautiful soon to be wife and this year, they celebrated 16 years married together and almost twenty together. He is a wonderful uncle to a plethora of nieces and nephews. He is a hard worker and has been in the grocery business going on 27 years. But more importantly, he is the bestest friend anyone could ever have.
Without Bruce, I wouldn’t be alive to tell this tale. It was an honor for him to ask me to share his story and the fact that I, and now you all, are the first to hear his story of attempting suicide all the way through, makes me appreciate the strength of our bond. I am sentimental considering how much trust he has placed in me in order to be able to confide in me on such an intimate level. It is very touching and I am beyond grateful to be able to share my struggles and my life with him and have him feel the same way about me.
If you or someone you love is contemplating suicide, please do not hesitate to call the suicide hotline at 800.273.8255.