A Reflection On My Past Attempts At Suicide

Until recently, I could not grasp the consequences of the pain I was going through the three times I tried to end my life, 20 years ago.

I couldn’t even categorize my attempts as “suicide attempts” until lately.

It has taken me most of those 20 years to get clarity on what it would have meant, had my actions resulted in something I seemingly wanted at the time.

What happened:

Three different times following three different hospitalizations (throughout one summer, during the early days of my deterioration, before I got the schizoaffective disorder diagnosis), I tried to get out of a moving vehicle.

One time, I even took the wheel of my dad’s car (thankfully, not hurting any of us), and totaled the vehicle. I was then rushed to the hospital—this time by ambulance.

I don’t ever want to experience that kind of helplessness again. I do experience a lot of hopelessness—but helplessness—no thank you!

And, now:

I’d like to think that today I’ve built up a pretty good set of coping skills.

Nonetheless, schizoaffective disorder has quite a hold on my life.

The illness and the side effects of the meds, make normal living a kind of challenge I have not been able to overcome.

So, I just do my best, which looks different—depending on the day.

It’s always one day at a time, with an eye towards building up my resilience!

I still think a lot about death, which is different than being actively suicidal.

Part of what was so troubling for me 20 years ago, was dealing with what severe mental illness was going to mean for me and my future.

A lot of what I dealt with then, and from time to time, now, are the stages of grief.

How about you?

Please share some of how you cope with adversity and your illness-related challenges.

(I appreciate the dialogue.)


  1. Thank you for speaking on the difference between hopelessness and helplessness – I’ve never heard that before, and I think that’s such a valuable perspective. The biggest way I cope with adversity is by actively reminding myself that I’m in a better place to manage my illness than I used to be. It doesn’t always make the situation better, but it’s a helpful reminder that I’ve come a long way. Thank you so much for sharing.

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  2. Grief has definitely been a part of my own journey. I’ve learned that I can tolerate thoughts of suicide, but I think it’s a part of my illness that will always come back when things are particularly bad. What I’m not keen on is living for decades with the quality of life that I have now, especially given that it’s declining over time rather than improving.

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    1. I understand what you are saying, and it’s terrible to think about. I have health care which is of great concern, but there are a lot of troubles with that even. The fear associated with my illness is heavy, and I know it’s going to be around for quite sometime. :/

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  3. I appreciate your honesty in writing about your past attempts. And I greatly relate to your goal of taking things day by day.. Death is something I think about more than I would like (especially what comes after this lifetime). Suicidal thoughts trickle in briefly from time to time. Something I heard once when attending a workshop on anxiety is that thoughts are often like a river. They flow into your mind and then out of your mind. It may not feel like it, but those thoughts can flow away on their own, and they don’t have to have so much control over our emotions.

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