Ashton Ray1 Comment

World Suicide Prevention Day

Ashton Ray1 Comment
World Suicide Prevention Day

Welcome to World Suicide Prevention Day.

Every year, September 10th rolls around and I publish a blog. Every year, as I write, I think "Maybe this will be the last one. Maybe next year, suicide won't feel so close to home." 

And yet here we are.

It's been ten years since I first considered killing myself. It's been less than ten days since I considered it last. 

To spare you from doing the math: I was thirteen when I had my first active suicidal thought. And man, it was so loud. I was in the middle of a really hard year, a really hard season. My family was in a heavy place and middle school really sucked. I was, unknowingly, fighting a hard battle with depression and I felt like I was losing. I was going to let myself lose. I was going to end it all. 

By the grace of God, I chose to live. I've told that story a lot, but I feel like the context is necessary for this conversation. (And, for the record, I will continue to tell it as long as I feel like I need to.)

What I haven't let many people into is what my relationship with suicide has been like since then. So, welcome. 

Before I go on, let me say this: I am okay. I am healthy and fighting and, most days, I want to be alive. Please, do not worry about me. I promise that I know when I need to ask for help. 

My relationship with suicide is messy and complicated and it's my normal. I have considered, mostly passively, taking my life in a number of ways for a number of reasons. On a bad day, my thoughts wander to suicide. In seasons of depression, my thoughts tend to live there. For a long, long time, I had no idea that suicidal thoughts weren't normal for everyone. 

All this to say that I am no stranger to the thoughts, the tendencies, the temptation that leads people to end their lives. But the important detail is not that, after ten years, I am still dealing with suicidal thoughts.

The important detail is that I am still alive.

World Suicide Prevention Day is important to me because in my life, in my brain, everyday is suicide prevention day. I have to choose, everyday, to fight my mind's depressive tendencies. I have to choose to get out of bed and open the blinds and take deep breaths. I have to choose to let myself laugh, smile, and engage with others. I have to choose to fight the thoughts that seem so normal; to choose to believe that they are not. 

I have come to live with suicidal thoughts, but a lot of people don't. Honestly, I can see why. They are fierce and heavy. They spit lies that feel like truth and offer the darkness as a quick escape. I have chosen to live a thousand times and it is never easy. But, I am here to say--to prove--that it is possible to live. The fight against the darkness and hopelessness is harder than I can describe and it is different for everyone, but it is possible to win. It is possible to, not only choose to live, but to want to be alive. 

It is important for me to say that my fight has not been fought alone. There have been hundreds of hours of counseling, prayer, and hard conversations. I have invited people in and they have fought alongside me. I have made lifestyle changes and spent the hardest of the days in bed. I have been kind to myself and I have decided that the life I am living is a story worth staying around for. My prayer in this is that, maybe, you could believe the same for yourself. 

If you're struggling, know that you are not alone. Know that the world will not be the same without you. Know that hope is more powerful than darkness. I know that there are days when living feels impossible, but I can promise you that nothing feels better than choosing to stay and find out what's beyond the darkness.

Please, stay.
Please, fight.
Please, choose to believe in what could be next. 

It is World Suicide Prevention Day and I am glad to be alive. As much as I hate that suicide is a part of my story, I am thankful to be here to tell it. I am thankful that suicide did not have the final word. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please get help. This fight cannot be fought alone.
Resources:

Suicide Hot-Line: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: 741741 to be connected to a trained crisis counselor.
Find a counselor near you-- click here
Check out To Write Love On Her Arms' campaign here.