By Kimberly Zapata
The first time I tried to kill myself I was 17 years old. I wrote a note and made a plan. I bought a bottle of pills (and a bottle of Coke) and I began executing said plan. But after swallowing several dozen capsules, things got fuzzy. The next 36 hours were a blur of sleep and sickness — and nothing more.
There second time there was no note; there was no plan. Instead, I impulsively grabbed a knife and began wielding it, turning the serrated blade on myself.
That attempt may have been my last, but I’d be lying if I said I never considered trying again. While in the depths of despair, I’ve entertained leaving my daughter, my husband, and this whole world behind — both in the pursuit of peace and to give them what I envisioned at the time to be a better, happier, and healthier life.
The good news is, I’ve been able to keep those dark thoughts at bay. With therapy and medication, I am able to manage both my depression and anxiety. I was also lucky enough to survive my two previous attempts, after which I sat up. I got up. I walked away — forever changed, but alive.
And I am not alone.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, for every suicide, there are 25 attempts. There are 24 others who, like me, woke up alive. And yet, despite the fact that suicide affects thousands — if not millions of us — it’s still a topic that many shy away from.
We don’t talk about suicide because of shame, secrecy, or fear. We don’t talk about suicide because of the stigma. (And when it comes to suicide, believe me, there is a huge stigma.) Unfortunately, our collective silence has led many to “fill in the blanks” about it. Our silence has propagated many of the myths, stereotypes, and “crazy” tropes we see on TV.
But I am more than a trope. I am more than a stereotype. So allow me to dispel some of the many (many) myths you may have heard.