**This post contains discussion of suicide**
September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month, which means a lot of emails, social media posts, etc. about suicide. Don’t get me wrong, I think awareness about suicide, including warning signs and how to help someone with suicidal ideation, is so important. We definitely need more people aware of what to say and do to help someone in crisis and we need to remove the stigma around asking for mental health support. However, some of the posts and emails are triggering to me. Not because they remind me of my loss, because I don’t really need reminding, but because often they are about how preventable suicide is and what to do to keep someone from killing themselves. As I mentioned, I do think this messaging is important because of course, we want to do whatever we can to prevent suicide. However, to me, it can feel like a knife in the chest, as someone who tried to prevent the suicide of my partner. I thought I’d done all the “right” things. He was in therapy, he’d been hospitalized three times, he’d partial hospitalization programs, he was in support groups, he saw a psychiatrist, he took medication, I constantly checked in with him, and he was rarely alone. We did so much to try and prevent him from dying by suicide. But, he still did. He still killed himself. Even after all of the strategies we used.
I am not sure that I will ever really fully get rid of the guilt I feel about his suicide. He turned down an invitation to go with me, my sister, and a friend to the movies. I felt like he was ok. I thought we were ok. When he didn’t answer my texts or calls, I thought that he just didn’t have his phone near him or he left it in his car. He was notorious for not responding, so it didn’t feel like a big deal at first. Maybe he fell asleep. After the movie was over, I felt like something was wrong. And, within a couple of hours, I discovered my worst nightmate. He was only alone for maybe four hours. We’d just been to a birthday party and a couples counseling session earlier that day. He’d been so good about attending therapy and checking in. But, it still happened. He still died. His brain won. And there’s no going back.
I just wish that suicide prevention messaging took into account how much work people do to keep their loved one alive or to keep themselves alive. We worked really hard. I thought we did the right things. We checked all the boxes. And, it wasn’t “enough”.
So, September is a tough one. This year, I am trying to scroll past the posts if it seems like it may be too sad for me to read. I know it’s important messaging and I know it has good intentions. But, it is still hard. And, it always will be so hard to know how much we did to save his life but we weren’t able to in the end.