For most people, the thought of life after a suicide attempt never crosses the mind. In all honesty, even people who are suicidal probably never pay much thought to how life could be after a suicide attempt. But it’s a little spoken about topic and today I want to change that. The conversation around suicide is possibly more open than it has ever been but I rarely see people talk honestly about life after a suicide attempt. Not the bits other than the successes when life gets better.
As you can probably imagine, this post carries a trigger warning for suicide and self harm.
Life after a suicide attempt varies from person to person. Some people bounce back quicker than others. After my attempt in 2017, it took me 3 months to finally start to process what happened but even today, I get times where I struggle to process what happened. I usually keep these feelings to myself – the view from most people is that you inflicted this on yourself so why are you complaining about it? You knew what you signed up for.
But in truth, you don’t really know what happens after a suicide attempt. Nobody tells you this because everyone hopes (or assumes) they’ll never get to that point and if you’re intention is truly to end it all, you probably don’t make a back up plan in case it doesn’t succeed. I mean, the whole point is not to make it out the other side after all.
In this post, I want to go over some of the things I personally struggled with or discovered after my suicide attempts. Unfortunately, since 2017 (and rather recently) I added 2 more serious attempts to my catalogue of traumatic events so by this point, I’m something of an expert.
Life after a suicide attempt – Telling People
This, for me, is the hardest part of life after a suicide attempt. It’s maybe not a compulsory part but most of the time, at least one person will need to know whether that be a family member, a friend or even worse – your employer. People will likely need to know if your whereabouts is unaccounted for and they’re worried or if you feel people need to know in order to support you.
Telling my family was compulsory because I live at home with my parents so when I was taken to hospital recently, they wouldn’t have known where I was that night. The first time, I told mum myself but the second time a nurse rang and let my mum know I was in hospital. I felt like I’d disappointed my parents – I wanted to lie and pretend I’d fallen or passed out somewhere but I had to face the music.
I also felt it necessary to tell my manager in order to avoid awkward conversations when I returned to work from sick leave. If I told her one thing then said something else, it would have been weird so I felt it best to tell her what she needed to know and thankfully she was so supportive.
Nearly everyone I’ve let know about these 2 recent attempts, I told over a text or via email and if you’re struggling to tell people then that’s sometimes the best way.
Life after a suicide attempt – Accepting What Happened
Sounds stupid but it can sometimes be difficult to accept what has just happened. Truth be told, I can’t remember my first most recent attempt all that well and my second most recent attempt is a bit less foggy but both events I’ve become detached from. There’s an element of me that wants to act like they never happened or can’t believe I did that.
They did happen. That’s the sad reality.
Sometimes you have to remind yourself that it happened but that life has to carry on. I sometimes see it as almost a period of grieving and readjusting. Life does feel different and if it was a particularly traumatic experience, you may need to take time to process what happened. Mentally healing is just as important as physically healing.
I’ve found that writing what happened down has really helped me come to terms with things and allowed me to move forward. I’ve had to acknowledge the existence of such events but I also know that I cannot let them define me and my future.
Life after a suicide attempt – Self Care
Life after a suicide attempt can be rough so you need to look after yourself. Take some time off work if you can, have some PJ days and set time aside for you. At the end of the day, something has happened that likely put a lot of stress on your body and the best way forward in the immediate future is to take a step back.
Personally, I’ve spent a lot of time in my PJs, had a lot of baths and drunk a lot of tea. I’ve also eaten a lot of food and played a lot of Animal Crossing but you should do things that make you happy or even just comfortable. I’m no doctor but I’d also advise staying away from things that may put stress on you physically or even alter your mental state like drugs, alcohol and tobacco.
I’d recommend putting together a mental health crisis box filled with things that you can take comfort from. Such items could include:
- A blanket
- Heat up wheat pack
- A teddy
- A snack
- A book
This is something my therapist recommended and I have kept everything but a book close by me at all times so that if I need some comfort, I can bundle myself up.
There are so many more aspects of life after a suicide attempt that I could write about but I wanted to keep this short and address some things that happen or could happen immediately after. Perhaps I’ll address the feelings that could come after a suicide attempt when I can personally keep a lid on my own emotions a little better.
But for now, if you are having suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone because you don’t have to suffer alone. Some advice can be found here on the NHS website or simply reach out and let someone know how you feel.
If you are struggling after a suicide attempt, please just look after yourself and keep yourself safe but remember that you have got this and things will one day get better.