May1
2013

Everyone’s Life is Worth Saving.

By Emily Van Etten

I didn’t plan to see my 18th birthday. I was a senior in high school, and I felt like I was in a sinkhole, grasping at the sides but only slipping down deeper. I was struggling with depression, anxiety, and self-injury. It was the scariest time of my life.

For me, depression altered the way I saw things. So while I was seeking treatment and there was hope for me, I couldn’t see it yet. I just wanted some relief, some kind of solace, because everything hurt. Physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, I was hurting, and I couldn’t make it stop. I’d been in therapy, gotten medication, been in a psychiatric hospital multiple times, and nothing felt like it was working. I didn’t think there was anything else for me. I thought I was a lost cause. I didn’t see a way out—except for suicide.

So I attempted to take my own life.

The term “suicide survivor” has always been attributed to people who have lost someone to suicide. So I never really thought of myself as a survivor, too, but I guess that’s what I am. It’s been three and a half years since my suicide attempt, and while I don’t feel this way every day, I know I’m incredibly blessed to still be here today. I can now say, there are no lost causes when it comes to suicide prevention.

One of the hardest things in the wake of a suicidal act is dealing with all the questions it leaves behind.

“What does this mean?”
“Why did he do something so selfish?”
“Wasn’t she thinking of all the people she’d hurt?”
“What do we do now?”
“How can I live with myself?”

I wish I had answers to all these questions. Everyone’s experience is different, and I can only speak for myself. But I honestly didn’t think I would hurt anyone. It wasn’t a selfish decision; I thought of myself as a burden to others, and I figured taking myself out of the equation would really be best for everyone. But this is not true of anyone; it never has been, and it never will be.

Sometimes it’s still hard for me to remember that I’m important, my life means something, and my story matters. What we do here at TWLOHA helps remind me of that, and I hope it reminds you, too.

I want to be a voice for suicide attempt survivors because I am one—and there are more of us out there than we realize. It’s not a badge I wear proudly, but I will wear it with strength, because it’s part of my story and who I am now.

Life still sucks sometimes, and healing doesn’t come quickly or easily—but it does come. Everyone’s life is worth saving.

—Emily, TWLOHA Spring 2013 intern

If you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide, please reach out. Call 1-800-SUICIDE or contact a mental health professional or your local authorities. If you are looking for other mental health resources, browse our Find Help page.

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View Comments (49)

  1. Anonymous

    Love, love, love

    Reply  |  
  2. Claire

    Everyone does think of the family left behind as suicide suriviors, but the real suicide survivors are the ones that attempted and lived to tell bout it. I’m sorry for what you went through. I’m still coming to terms with my failed attempt. Thank you for sharing your story, for presenting hope

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    1. Anonymous

      Completely agree with you. No one knows I’m a suicide survivor, but I am. And one day I’ll have the courage to share that.

      Reply  |  
      1. Stephanie M.

        Take all the time you need sweetie. Just know people are willing to listen and help you in anyway. :)

        Reply  |  
    2. Anonymous

      Completely agree with you. No one knows I’m a suicide survivor, but I am. And one day I’ll have the courage to share that.

      Reply  |  
  3. Kayli

    This makes me remember that there is hope for my depression its gonna be a lifelong struggle but in the end… It will always be worth it :D

    Reply  |  
  4. Anonymous

    This blog could so easily have been written by me. I too never saw myself reaching the age of eighteen, and when I did reach that age, I was amazed that I’d made it. It’s been a long road of recovery but I am so much better these days than I was a few years ago. I thought I was a lost cause, too. And I never thought I’d hurt anyone by ending my life – only that I’d relieve them because I felt like a burden. Depression does that: it lies to you and makes you believe things that simply aren’t true. You ARE loved. You ARE wanted. People DO care about you, and you would be missed SO much if you left.

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    1. Shelby

      Wow basically describing me. You took the words right out of my mouth. It’s crazy looking back isn’t it?

      Reply  |  
    2. Anonymous

      It’s so hard in the day to to day to believe that I am loved or wanted or that I would be missed. I’ve never attempted suicide, but have lived with the unbearable desire to not be in the world anymore (for over 20 years) and I struggle every single day to stay here. It’s selfish of others to ask me “why aren’t you better yet?” but, admittedly, I agree with them. Why can’t mine be a life worth living?

      Reply  |  
  5. Melissa

    Idk you, but I’m so very happy you’re here to tell your story. You are so much stronger than you think, and please never ever let anyone tell you differently. =] You are an amazing person <3333

    Reply  |  
  6. Jessika

    It’s been three days since the 1 year anniversary of when i too attempted to take my own life. I suffer from similar things to you. Depression, anxiety, and self injury. I was hospitalized after my suicide attempt. Recently i have been diagnosed with bipolar type 2…its so good to be able to read helpful things like this, especially when you feel yourself starting to slide back down the hole sometimes.

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  7. Shari

    Thank you for bravely sharing your story. I lost my sister to suicide 7 months ago. Living everyday without her is so hard. You are valued, and I’m so glad you are alive to be a voice for those gone and those who are dealing with depression.

    Reply  |  
  8. Snoopy

    Thank you

    Reply  |  
  9. Angela

    I’m very glad you are here to have written this! Thank you for sharing!

    Reply  |  
  10. Becky (UK)

    It’s so good to read something that speaks for everyone who has struggled with depression and attempted suicide, having tried it twice once when I was 16 the other october last year 4 years on, even now I know its a life long recovery, at the age of 16 I lost alot of friends because of my attempt, they saw it has selfish, and my school teacher told me I was stupid for doing it, I was the girl who tried to take her life at school and college. The last time I was close my dad tried to get me section apparently he couldn’t deal with me anymore, but then he was the one that said it was a hiccup, whereas my mother she was the one who made me get the help afterwards she forced me to the doctors. My greatest fear is to give in to my depression, I’ve accepted I will never fully recover, but this is part of me and people do care no matter what. Where I am from there isn’t anything like TWLOHA, nobody openly talks about their experiences. I want to change that. It’s not something I’m proud of happening but it did, its a life long road, I’m lucky I’m survivor.

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  11. Beverley

    This is so real and hits so close to home as a ‘suicide attempt survivor.’ While some days are harder than others, knowing there are people across the world, who have experienced the same pain, and have fought through it, gives me hope. There are some days where I do feel like giving up, and I do get fixated on wanting to end things. Things don’t get better overnight but amidst all the hurt and pain, slowly but surely things get better. I wouldn’t be able to see the beauty of healing if I hadn’t stuck it out. It’s so easy to forget how loved we all are and that we are a part of something bigger. I just want to thank you for sharing your story. You’re right – everyone’s life is worth saving.

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  12. Anonymous

    I struggle with depression and anxiety. I’ve been self-harm free for 8 and a 1/2 months. I struggle with suicidal thoughts. They come and go, but when they come, they hit me hard. Sometimes it scares me, but that’s only when I can catch myself before I sink to rock bottom. I can relate to your story so much. It is encouraging to hear that there is hope from someone who once felt what I feel when I have my bad days. On my bad days I feel alone. I feel hopeless. I feel like there is no point because I will always just end up back at rock bottom again even if I make it past it this time. Most of all, I feel like no one understands. But I can tell that you do because I see myself in your words. Your story is one I will keep with me and turn to on my bad days. Thank you for sharing.

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  13. Love Kovy

    Dear Emily, thank you for this note. It’s amazing that you haven’t done anything to yourself 3,5 years ago. And there is a reason why you’re still here. It’s God who stopped you. It was His plan for you to stay here on earth for a bit longer. God loves you and cares for you. He will never leave your side.
    I’m happy for you. Wish you the best in life and may God bless you abundantly!
    – Love :)

    Reply  |  
  14. Soli

    I disagree about the advice at the end of this column. It’s common advice but it’s not the best advice. The best place to go with suicidal thoughts is to a hospital emergency room. When you get there, tell them you are having suicidal thoughts and/or feelings. 1-800-Suicide provides help but they aren’t local, and they are staffed largely by volunteers who vary widely in how well they are able to help. Mental health professionals likewise vary very widely in how well they can assess and treat suicidal risk, and too many of them are too unskilled at it. You can actually get hurt, and people do get hurt by mental health professionals who can’t properly do a suicidal risk assessment, or treat suicidal risk. The local authorities will take you to the emergency room or your local public mental health facility, so unless you are unable to drive or it is unwise for you to drive (because, for instance, you just cut yourself or took pills), it would make sense to just go directly to your local hospital’s emergency room. ER doctors are trained in suicide risk assessment, and in local laws and resources pertaining to suicidal risk management. A good screening and treatment by an ER doc is your best bet in this situation.

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  15. Christa

    How do you make all that pain go away then? If you’ve tried all the therapists, rehabs, meds, prayers, etc… What is there really that’s left to make the immense pain inside stop? Other than all the unhealthy coping mechanisms one can use? I’ve tried my share of them… Drinking, cutting, pills, inhalants, christianity, etc. but the pain won’t stop. What do I do?

    Reply  |  
    1. Love

      Dear Christa, I understand your pain. I know how hard it is to live with pain every single day. I’m sorry you haven’t found a solution yet to get rid of the pain inside you.
      I’ve been very depressed recently after I broke up with my b/f. The pain I had inside almost killed me. I couldn’t eat, I couldn’t work, I was down to 100 pounds. My only solution to get rid of that pain and suffering was GOD. I started praying hard, crying out to God for help, for pain to go away. I put my trust in God and believed that God will take the pain and depression away. And God helped me. I’m free of depression, pain, and all the negative emotions I’ve experienced. I think differently. Every time I’m sad or feeling like I’m missing someone, I tell myself: everything is alright, I’ve got a best friend, Jesus. He’s always with me, helping and supporting me. And He will one day send me a guy who will make me the happiest girl, and I will make him the happiest guy alive. Everything has its time.
      I will pray tonight for you. And you pray asking God to help you from all your heart. He’s waiting for you. He wants to help you. Believe me. And remember, YOU ARE LOVED! :) God bless you!
      – Love

      Reply  |  
      1. Colleen

        Love, thank you, thank you for helping me remember that there is hope in Jesus. I’ve missed him! But he always takes me back. God Bless us all! XO

        Reply  |  
    2. Lenna

      You keep going. Recovery is always possible. It may seem like you are out of options because nothing else worked but that’s not the case. You said therapy and meds didn’t work, well they probably weren’t the right fit for you. Therapy and meds are kind of like a pair of jeans. Even if it’s the size you need not every pair will fit right so your try on another and eventually you find a pair that fits well and they make you feel great! And instead of trying Christianity how about trying faith. There is a big difference between religion and relationship. Religion is often just going to church, saying the prayers, just going through the motions. Faith is all about actually having a relationship with God. He hasn’t miraculously healed me from all of this but that doesn’t matter. He has helped me walk this far and I know He will help me get through this. It’s terrible that anyone has to go through this but if you let it grow you instead of defeat you you can do great things one day. This is all a part of your story and your story has the power to change lives. You’re not alone.

      Reply  |  
    3. Soli

      Christa,
      What is it? What is it that hurts so much?

      Reply  |  
      1. Christa

        There’s so much pain… from a lot of different things… but it usually manifests as anxiety and fear. It hurts in my chest… a lot… but especially when I’m starting to feel something emotional. Or if I’m forced to be vulnerable or discuss feelings. If you’re asking what the root of it is…then I’d tell you abuse from my father and brother during my childhood. Emotional and verbal from my dad and sexual from my brother. For years I have cut myself to try to let out some of the pain. I’m in therapy… and have been with many differnet counselors over the years. I’ve been to two different christian treatment facilities to try to get help for the intense depression: one for 9 months and one for 7 months. I am hurting inside so badly and i feel like no one can reach me. No one knows how to help or comfort me. I feel like I’m drowning behind the walls I’ve built…and now I can’t even find my way out from behind them. I’m screaming inside and need to release the pain but there’s so much pain…and no one understands. I just want to be held close to someone’s chest and be able to sob for a long, long time. I feel like even if i cut myself all over my body until I was a bloody mess, I still wouldn’t be able to release or communicate all the hurt inside. People still wouldn’t be able to understand. I feel so alone, so empty; it just aches inside so deeply. Does that answer your question? Do you have more? I like questions. It makes me feel cared about that someone’s taking an interest and wants to know something about me.

        Reply  |  
    4. LaurenA

      I have to agree with you Christa, I’ve tried all of these. It never works. It never worked for me.

      Reply  |  
  16. annie

    I can relate… I was 19 when I tried to end my life. I never thought I would cause anyone pain or problems. I thought I would be making their lives easier if I wasn’t around. I couldn’t be a burden if I wasn’t here. I honestly believed no one would care or even notice. I had been struggling with anxiety and depression for so long I simply wanted the pain to go away .I wanted freedom . I wanted the thoughts to stop. I know looking back I was wrong. Those were lies. so many people care and so many were there for me. It’s hard when your dealing with depression and anxiety to really explain what’s going on to people who don’t have it but so many more people then we realize do understand it. It seems like a never ending battle but I hope and pray it’s not.

    Reply  |  
  17. Shelby

    When I was 13 I dealt with depression. I never attempted but thought of things I could do. I just wanted the pain to go away. As many have said I too felt like no one would care or notice that they would move on. I was numb. It’s hard to explain to people who have never dealt with it. And the stigmas of mental illness and suicide need to stop. I got help although I wanted nothing to do with it. My mom had to practically drag me to the doctors. But once the Prozac kicked in I couldn’t believe what i had been feeling only a month before. It was like the sun finally came out and I was free. I got lucky. It’ll be 10 years next year. Hard to believe it. I remember thinking it would never end and I heard Hold On by Good Charlotte and thought ok. Maybe they know what they’re talking about. I would think to 18 and wonder what my life would be like. That song helped me to hang in there.

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  18. Shaquille Howell

    Good story. I have had suicidal thoughts since I was about 13. I’m 22 now. I never thought I would live this long. I always figured and hoped I would be dead by 18 then 21. There is no cure for it that I’ve found. Anytime I feel like ending my life I remember that no matter how depressed I feel that it won’t last forever and that tendency to melancholy is a misfortune and never a fault. There are still many days and hours that I think about terminating my life but I and us need to remember the pain it would cost families and friends and that no matter how hopeless the future may seem there is always a place for us and a chance to find happiness. Ya’ll can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. Ya’ll are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.

    Reply  |  
  19. Becky

    I suffer from depression, anxiety and panic attacks. And I have to say that I have thought about suicide a couple times. I went to a therapist, got on the right medication and I have a good support system now. I have had to make hard decision to rid my life of the negative influences and replace them with positive ones. Some of those negative influences was family members that I had to get away from. I just want to say that there is light at the end of the tunnel. It maybe hard to see from one day to the next but don’t give up. YOU ARE IMPORTANT AND LOVED! XXX Becky XXX

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  20. Leacy

    I was 16 when I attempted suicide. It’s so scary to have all those thoughts in your mind. Thoughts that nobody cared about you, that you are just a burden and everybody would be better off without you. My grandparents found out and got me help. To this day, I still have those days and I’m 22. I don’t think it goes away permanently, but with faith, good people, and help, it gets better. I look back on my life, and I realize, I’M HERE. THANK GOD I AM ALIVE! I have an amazing God, wonderful, loving friends, a great boyfriend and understanding family who help me on my bad days. Don’t ever give up. People will miss you. I’m here for you, as are a ton of others. We understand better because we’ve been there. I’m a suicide attempt survivor, and I’m beyond thankful I’m here and you are too. You are loved.

    Reply  |  
    1. Miranda

      I need someone to talk to about everything i am going through right now

      Reply  |  
  21. Jess

    I’m a suicide attempt survivor (multiple times over) and I think attention needs to come to those who do survive. It’s a critical time where only intense love will stop them from just becoming an eventual suicide victim

    Reply  |  
  22. Greg

    Thank you for sharing. As I read though the post, I felt like I was reading my own story. We are never alone despite feelings of desperation, regret or pain. It’s stories like this that not only make me reflect, but realize that life is worth living.

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  23. Anonymous

    I just wanted post that it really means a lot to me to have my story have similar aspects to someone else’s. When I attempted to take my own life I felt the same way. My perception was that people did not need me around and that they would be better off without me.

    I still fight with depression every day. I know that I do need to be around. It is been so helpful to me as I try to get better to have TWLOHA.

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  24. Emily

    I wish I could stop cutting myself… I try it but I can’t do it, because I feel so sad every time I look at me in the mirror. I just hate my body and I fight every day with all people who tell me I’m beautiful or even that I’m skinny… it isn’t true. They don’t know anything, they are not under my skin and nobody knows exactly how I feel. I don’t let anyone touch me and I’m ashamed when people look at me. I just don’t want my body, I don’t recognize it as mine and I wish that feeling would just go away. I always regret it after cutting my body, but at the time I do it, it just feel so right. I hate every skinny and beautiful girl, because they can be what I’m not… the only escape I have is punish myself after eating.
    Thanks for reading, I just want to let what I feel out… and I’m sorry if there’s any mistake at writing, is just that I don’t speak English very well. Kisses ;)

    Reply  |  
    1. Anonymous

      Emily, you have no idea how much it helps me to know that someone else feels that way… it makes me feel just a little bit okay right now, despite the fact that im hiding hundreds of scars… despite the fact that i feel so wrong inside and out…

      Can I ask you to, with me, just not give up hope yet? You’re so worth it.

      Reply  |  
  25. Clara

    Well put, Emily. Your words mirrored exactly how I felt when I was suffering the worst of my own depression. Thank you so much for writing this.

    Reply  |  
  26. Anonymous

    Thank you for writing this. I struggled with depression as well and I attempted suicide through anorexia nervosa. As I recover (physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually), I can’t help but feel self-centered when I want to speak out about my story. I don’t know if you felt that way as well, and I don’t mean to assume anything of you, but what I’m saying is that from the point of view of the rest of us, sharing your story is heroic, honorable, brave, and inspiring. I guess writing this comment is more of a realization for myself than it is a message to you specifically, but hopefully someone out there can relate. Peace and love

    Reply  |  
  27. Anonymous

    Beautifully stated. thank you.

    Reply  |  
  28. LaurenA

    I’ve been thinking about Suicide for about 3 or 4 years now, and I’ve tried many time, and no one knows about those attepmts. Some of the things you said, they’re basical how I feel. That I’m a burden to other. I hate that I think this, cuz I should know I’m loved and all, but at times I feel like nothing and that I am nothing and always will be. Thank you for writing this.

    Reply  |  
  29. shelby

    Think you for writing your true feelings. I’ve been in your situation before and it makes me vulnerable and scared. Just last October I lost am amazing friend to suicide… it turned my world upside down. The pain that I felt for this loss kicked me into sanity. I now know there is a reason I am on this earth… I want everyone to know that your feelings and pain and anxiety and hurt are not ignored. Life seems hopeless some days… but silver linings are always around the corner… you just have to build up a small amount of energy to find them. We are strong; and we can fight this battle of emotional distress as long as we stick together. Love every minutes of your life; and don’t take it for granted. This world is a better place with all of us in it.

    Reply  |  
  30. Carla

    Never thought I’d find people who lived the same thing I did. I’ve been struggling with all these feeling for 7 years now, and it’s only been a year since I started to feel better.
    There’s a long road ahead of me but I’m glad to know that I’m not alone.
    Thank you for sharing all these things. For taking the time and effort trying to help so many of us.
    TWLOHA has truly changed my life.

    Reply  |  
  31. Anonymous0731

    I am also a “survivor”. I attempted to end my life twice, and I am beyond happy that I failed. I was a victim of bullying and harassment, I was trying so hard to be brave and smile that no one noticed how depressed I was. I struggled for 3 1/2 years with the pain. But recently,(1/2 a year ago), I snapped and cried out for help, I didn’t want to die. I got help from family, everyone else turned away. I know live in a different part of the state. I have turned to religion and I am so much better! I have turned to the ‘little girl’ part of me that was happy. I still go through drawback pains from depression, but I have decided to be happy! No one is going to brake me down! I have regained my life!

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  32. Veronica

    I read all these things about suicide because honestly, I think about doing it alot. One of the things I just want to happen most is to die already. I feel as if no one understands me, and no one ever will, because even when I try to explain they don’t listen. And I know I have people that are my friends that say they care about me but how am I supposed to me for sure, I will like a burden to everyone as well. And when I feel especially depressed I pray to god that he’d kill me already because I know if I did it myself from what I’ve read about suicide that I’d just be giving my pain to others in a different form. And that just makes me even more of a burden. I don’t know what to do, and I feel as if I can’t do anything right. I wish..I just wish..

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  33. Mandy

    Sometimes there are days where I feel liking giving up and giving my life up. Some days I want to give up and tell God I can’t take much more and on those days I say I don’t know why I feel that way but deep down, I do know why.

    There are days where I want to give up so much but then I log on to the internet, search TWLOHA, go to blogs and just read…
    This might sound strange but I’ve read all the posts and I still love reading them, over and over.

    This personally is my favorite blog..

    “I want to be a voice for suicide attempt survivors because I am one—and there are more of us out there than we realize. It’s not a badge I wear proudly, but I will wear it with strength, because it’s part of my story and who I am now.

    Life still sucks sometimes, and healing doesn’t come quickly or easily—but it does come. Everyone’s life is worth saving.”

    There are days where I feel like giving up but I don’t, I keep pushing myself and keep on living.

    Reply  |  
  34. Mandy

    Sometimes there are days where I feel liking giving up and giving my life up. Some days I want to give up and tell God I can’t take much more and on those days I say I don’t know why I feel that way but deep down, I do know why.

    There are days where I want to give up so much but then I log on to the internet, search TWLOHA, go to blogs and just read…
    This might sound strange but I’ve read all the posts and I still love reading them, over and over.

    This personally is my favorite blog..

    “I want to be a voice for suicide attempt survivors because I am one—and there are more of us out there than we realize. It’s not a badge I wear proudly, but I will wear it with strength, because it’s part of my story and who I am now.

    Life still sucks sometimes, and healing doesn’t come quickly or easily—but it does come. Everyone’s life is worth saving.”

    There are days where I feel like giving up but I don’t, I keep pushing myself and keep on living.

    Reply  |  
  35. Anonymous

    I have attempted on three different occasions and its been on my mind a lot lately… I am so grateful i read this, it moved me and made me think a lot more. Thank you, i cant explain how much i needed to read this. Thank you for making me feel less alone and worth saving. <3 TWLOHA <3

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