In memory of SKB
Sometimes, adult survivors of emotional child abuse feel a deepening sadness that grows heavier and heavier with time. The burden of it can feel too much to carry… and they may think about suicide.
So, we need to talk about suicide… and to discuss it with compassion and without judgment.
Let’s drag this howling monster from the shadows and force it to the spotlight, so we can see what it truly is and talk about finding help to battle suicidal thoughts.
Don’t be afraid to discuss this subject. The mention of the word “suicide” will not summon death. It is not an evil spell that a person can cast. Most importantly, we can weaken suicide’s seemingly overwhelming power when we discuss it and seek healthier solutions for such severe depression.
After all, suicide is a tragic death… and yet it can be preventable.
Why We’re Discussing Suicide
An adult survivor of emotional child abuse will grow weary of the battle to be authentic. Aching from emotional bruises, worn from the childhood memories, feeling alone in the truth, some adult survivors want to die.
There. I said it. Sometimes, people wish they were dead, so everything wouldn’t hurt so damn much anymore.
That’s a fact that wails from emails some readers send to me.
But it’s also a fact that this feeling doesn’t last forever. The sorrow and the hurt and exhaustion may feel endless, but it will pass in due course, no suicide needed.
What Suicide Really Is
At its core, suicide is about someone ending his or her life because life feels too painful.
“Suicide is a desperate attempt to escape suffering that has become unbearable,” states Melinda Smith, M.A., Jeanne Segal, Ph.D., and Lawrence Robinson, authors of the Suicide Prevention Guide. “Blinded by feelings of self-loathing, hopelessness, and isolation, a suicidal person can’t see any way of finding relief except through death. But despite their desire for the pain to stop, most suicidal people are deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. They wish there was an alternative to committing suicide, but they just can’t see one.”
You Are Not Alone
The road may be darkened and difficult, but don’t walk it alone. Find someone to talk to. Seek help. Keep moving, pausing when you need to, but do not make that pause a stop.
You may feel alone right now, but you aren’t.
Even if you look around your life right now, your heart breaking inside your chest, your head full of storm clouds, your eyes unable to see the light, you are not alone.
I care about you.
Every single night, I pray and hold in my heart all the readers of The Invisible Scar. I pray for you, want the best for you, desire your healing. I carry your heart in my heart, as the poet e.e. cummings wrote.
Your fellow adult survivors of emotional child abuse here at The Invisible Scar care about you, too. Our narratives share much in common, despite the uniqueness of each person. And we all understand sorrows.
You can also find comfort on The Invisible Scar Facebook Page. If you’re in despair and feel alone, you can post there.
We’ve gathered on this online prairie, listening to the howls of wolves in the distance, looking at the sky for signs of hope in better things ahead, plotting our next trails… and we also warm ourselves by the bonfire and tell our stories and share our griefs and celebrate our victories.
You’re not crying into the wind. We are listening.
And He who created the world also hears you. God is here, though you may not feel Him right now. And if you are despairing about your upbringing or current situation, God will not be mad at you. He’s not pissed off that you’re contemplating suicide. He’s not rolling His eyes at your despair or just waiting to condemn you.
A good, good father would never reject a child who is hurting. And though your earthly parents have proven cruel or empty, your true Father is always there to hear your prayers, the whispers that you cry into your pillow. He loves you so very much.
If you think He doesn’t care, do know that He helped you find this article—and that its author prays for you and wishes to help…
Getting Help for Suicidal Thoughts
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your despair or feelings of hopeless, please keep this in mind:
- Give yourself time. If you feel like killing yourself right now, wait rather than act on that impulse. Stop. Give yourself another day, a week, a month. Focus on something else for the next hour… Then, the next. Hang in there.
- People do overcome suicidal thoughts and get better. You can get help and learn to banish that darkness.
- Feelings pass. They might not feel like they do, but feelings do change. None lasts forever.
- You are irreplaceable. There is only one you in the world, and we need you here. Stay with us. “Man exists as a unique and unrepeatable being,” writes the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. We need your uniqueness. Don’t go so early.
Helping Someone Who Is Contemplating Suicide
If you know someone who is contemplating suicide (or you suspect that he or she is), prepare to talk about suicide and then start the conversation.
A person thinking about suicide (whether the thoughts are periodic or constant) often talks about feeling hopeless, about despairing, about the seemingly endless suffering. We must listen to this person. We need to listen to one another when we talk about the darker feelings inside us.
As painful as it can be to discuss depression, it is a far more painful to discuss the tragedy of a preventable death…
When I was a teenager, a girl in my freshman gym class committed suicide.
Sheila* had a lovely cheerful face, freckles sprinkled liberally over it, and shining sky-blue eyes. Petite, round, and golden-haired, she reminded me of an extra from an old “Gidget” movie, everything sunshine and bright.
But Sheila was being ravaged by depression, and I never knew it.
One morning in March, after gym class, she gave me her lime-green bead necklace. I had said it was pretty, and she had hesitated then taken it off and insisted that I keep it. I put it on immediately, struck by her generosity and sweetness.
The next day, our teachers told us all that Sheila had killed herself. She hadn’t made it to her fifteenth birthday, just three months away.
For years, I felt like I had failed Sheila. If I’d only been friendlier, if only I had talked to her, if only I’d invited her to my house to hang out that day, if only we’d been close friends, if only I hadn’t accepted the necklace, if only I’d given her something, too, if only, if only, if only…
At fourteen, I carried my own sorrows, and I would not have had answers or the right words. But had she reached out, I could have sat with her amid the sorrow and held her hand. And she’d have known that she was not alone. That I had ears to listen, a shoulder to cry on, arms to hug her, a heart that cared…
Perhaps whatever sorrow Sheila held, whatever despair she felt, would have passed by now, still having left its scar on her but not permanently slaying her.
News of her suicide tore through our high school like a monster from a nightmare. Teachers showed us after-school specials about suicide and urged us to seek help; they were so afraid that Sheila’s suicide was somehow catching.
Her death was the topic of conversation for days. A few students lacked compassion and were cruel about how “only losers killed themselves.” But a lot more of us were quiet and scared, wondering whether our sorrows would turn into monsters, too.
The realization I had then—and that remains with me—is that all types of people commit suicide. Young people. Old people. Rich people. Poor people. But they don’t have to commit suicide, they don’t have to give into despair. Suicidal thoughts can be overcome.
Please, don’t take your life. Things may seem dark, tragedies may feel insurmountable, but suicidal thoughts are treatable.
“Others have experienced suicidal thoughts and go on to lead fulfilling lives after seeking treatment,” writes Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., at Psych Central.
Please seek help. Show a trusted person where the shadows are so he or she can help you find the light and emerge from the darkness.
Veronica Jarski is founder and managing editor of The Invisible Scar, a passion project dedicated to raising awareness of emotional child abuse and its effects on adult survivors. She has extensive editorial experience and a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Her work has been featured on myriad publications, such as Kapost, MarketingProfs, and Ragan. She also is the author of an e-book about waking up to the realization that one had an emotionally abusive childhood.
* Name changed out of respect for her family