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People Who Survived Attempted Suicide Need You to Know 12 Things

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National Suicide Prevention Week is almost over, but many people are still unaware of the facts surrounding suicide prevention, especially when a suicide attempt has already been made.

Experts share the top 12 observations about people who attempt suicide but thankfully survive.

Michelle Stevens, a clinical psychologist said in an email that she made three suicide attempts in her earlier years, and eventually became a psychologist as a result of her journey learning about herself.

She shares six points to understand about people with failed suicide attempts:

1) “The first thing to know about suicide is that most people don't want to die.”

2) “Suicidal people are in excruciating emotional pain; they want that pain alleviated.”

3) “To the outside world, a suicidal person's problems may not seem that bad, but this viewpoint doesn't factor in depression. The depressed mind does not think clearly. It makes the depressed person feel overly pessimistic and guilt-ridden, not to mention tired and joyless. In this depressed state, a person has trouble imagining that anything can ever get better. Suicide starts to seem like the only option.”

4) “Let's face it, if a person really wants to kill himself or herself, it's not difficult. There are proven methods. Failed attempts are not really failures; they are generally indicative of the person's indecisiveness.”

5) “If the person receives genuine help after an attempt, it can eventually heal the depression and suicidality. If the person does not get the help and support he or she needs, the failed suicide attempt becomes a rehearsal, a lowering of inhibition.”

6) Sometimes you can do more damage if you attempt to help a person experiencing depression and suicidality without proper training. It is best to help a friend or loved one get the professional help they need (and of course be there to support them). This can include talk therapy, medication and, in some cases, hospitalization.

Ramani Durvasula, a licensed clinical psychologist, shared her three pieces of insight in an email:

7) “Just because a person survives a suicide attempt does not mean they are out of the woods. Many times people are hoping for that ‘see the light’ moment for the person who attempted suicide and all will be well. The most consistent predictor of suicide is past attempts, so an attempt means that mental health services have to be redoubled, supports in place, more intense treatment considered. This is the beginning of a long process.”

8) “On the other side of the continuum, it also does not mean that a person who has attempted suicide should be ‘infantilized.’ It is a process, and assuming they have the proper care and supports in place, treating them as exquisitely fragile is not doing them any favors.”

9) “Calling that person out as ‘selfish,’ etc. is NOT OK. A person who has attempted [suicide] with depression is struggling with numerous thoughts, including feelings of worthlessness, guilt, [and] failure. Society tends to term suicide as ‘selfish’ rather than seeing it in a far more complex context of helplessness, mental health, stress, and history.”

Denee Jordan, a clinical psychologist and marriage and family therapist, has one major statement she shared via email:

10) “I think what is most important for people to remember is that if you have never felt suicidal, you probably will never completely understand it. In other words, feeling ‘suicidal’ is not a decision people make when they are feeling bad. It is at the end of an emotional continuum that most people do not experience because they naturally do not allow themselves to go beyond the ability to access resources for help.”

Lyn Morris, the vice president of clinical operations at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, provided her insight via email:

11) “Talking to someone about their thoughts of suicide will not put the idea of suicide into their head. Instead, allowing an at-risk person to talk about his or her feelings without judgment or shame often brings comfort and relief. Listening and not trying to fix a suicidal person’s problems can be the best help a friend or family member can offer.”

Amy Baylis, a follow-up crisis line coordinator at Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, provided information via email regarding attempted suicide:

12) “Immediately after an attempt, there might still be some medical issues that need to be addressed. Working on the crisis line, I have talked to many people who said they overdosed on medication, woke up a few days later, and never told anyone about it. There can be serious physical damage to the liver or kidneys from an overdose. People who have survived a suicide attempt should seek medical help.”


American Association of Suicidology. National Suicide Prevention Week. Web. September 10, 2014.

Stevens, Michelle. Email interview. September 10, 2014.

Durvasula, Ramani. Email interview. September 9, 2014.

Jordan, Denee. Email interview. September 10, 2014.

Morris, Lyn. Email interview. September 9, 2014.

Baylis, Amy. Email interview. September 9, 2014.

Reviewed September 12, 2014
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith

Add a Comment10 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Thank you! People who accuse suicidal people of being "selfish" are the ones that are truly selfish. They are only thinking of how the depressed person's thoughts and actions make them feel and they disregard the suicidal person. If anything when a person wants to commit suicide its because they are far from selfish. Most likely they have been putting other people first for so long at the expense of their own happiness to a point where they just can't take it anymore.

June 11, 2017 - 1:09pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

true. or they wish to stop being a burden to the people they love. or to stop causing them pain.

July 10, 2017 - 3:49pm
EmpowHER Guest

I wish I had an article written by someone who has actually "failed" at suicide. This is the same egotistic approach that health workers (Police, Paramedics, and Firemen) will ensue -- especially when they "fail".

Whoever wrote this adores or is semi-involved in Law Enforcement or Social Services... they actually believe what they do is good and "it works" while they continually and ignorantly fight a losing battle.

Dear writer.. You only add to the problem.. So..

April 18, 2017 - 7:32pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Medic here with 20 years of depression and multiple suicide attempts. You're right. The most actual help I've done anyone was tell them to make a decision and follow through; That was nothing more than good advice, at that.

April 15, 2018 - 11:19am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Dear Anonymous,
I am writing this to you, to say that I have made 3 attempts to my life!!!! I tried by hanging with a rope, drinking poison, and , cutting my wrist, I didn't know at that time that you was to cut straight up, instead of across. I was 10 at my first two attempts, then when I turned 14, I tried the cutting thing. The reason that I tried all of this was because, I wanted to be with my Mom in heaven. I was 10 when she passed, and I had NO ONE to help me. I had to learn about life at 12!!
And now of this was reported to any one that I am aware of. But as I had gotten older I realized what I was doing to my self and I simply stopped all of this attempts on my life. But don't get this wrong, I still have theses thoughts from time to time, but as of now that's all it is, at this point and time.

January 9, 2018 - 12:02pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

So sorry to hear that at 10 years old. I feel your sorrow. I would like to talk to you


May 8, 2018 - 2:44am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Anonymous)

Obviously you have never been "there". People with your belief system are part of the problem...try being part of the community solution.

October 13, 2017 - 7:11am
EmpowHER Guest

"To the outside world, a suicidal person's problems may not seem that bad, but this viewpoint doesn't factor in depression. The depressed mind does not think clearly." This is not the point. sometimes the suffering IS great whether it seems like it from the outside or not. it's not just that the mind isn't thinking clearly.

December 7, 2016 - 4:33pm

THANK YOU for putting in this article that it is NOT OKAY to call a suicide attempt "selfish". People seem to fail to understand that, generally speaking, suicide attempts have various different thoughts, emotions, and psychological disorders that are factoring into the ideation and actual attempt. Often times, there is some piece of the puzzle revolving around trying to "unburden" loved ones, as they feel that they're potentially a nuisance. There are other reasons, of course, and I can only speak of personal experience and having lived with mostly-passive suicidal ideation for the last seven years without a clinically true attempt, but most attempts are not selfishly motivated.

I personally can't agree with number four, and I don't really like the wording: "Let's face it:...." It's really only known to the client/patient if they truthfully wanted to die, and they are not under oath (in a typical circumstance) to disclose that information truthfully. I don't think that generalizing an entire group of people in such a way is helpful. I understand that it can simply be what's called [as much as I dislike this phrase] "a cry for help", but there are those that did fail, as I am sure those that did succeed that changed their mind. I don't know which source that was pulled from, given the lack of parenthetical citation; however, I am curious as to which source that came from.

September 20, 2016 - 9:39pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Elendarin)

As a 29 year old female I've suffered from depression and anxiety since my early teen years.

My personal experience is, I had been depressed and in a dark place. Felt alone. Misunderstood and ignored and unwanted because I felt like I was not important or a waste of time and space to the world in general and sometimes still do.

I do agree in a sense when you, the sufferer are being selfish. We have to be the one to make the choice to be positive and get help. If not then it can be selfish when you consider the facts.

Me not being in this world would negatively affect not only me but my family because they need me, love me and want me aroand. I would cause them grief and sadness. And I the sufferer of depression am being selfish in not considering their feelings when faced with this stare of mind and mental illness of mine.

I have attempted suicide and still think about it. But I habe positive reasons to bring me back out of that dark place.

So in a sense yea it is selfish but I would never openly say it to someone. I would rather remind them the wonderful things the world holds for them if they stick around and battle through life.

Not only the experience will make you a stronger individual but it will help you find yourself if u stick to it and keep trying to seek help keep your chin up. And yes this is no easy feat for people with depression it's a large mountain to climb or seemingly impossible.

July 6, 2017 - 5:44pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.