If you have been directly affected by suicide, this post may be painful or uncomfortable for you to read.
If you are suicidal, please reach out for help. Tell someone…ANYONE.
If you have no one you can talk to, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.
I rarely share this story, as it was a dark time that I don’t care to remember. I told this story to struggling friend a few nights ago and decided that giving it to a wider audience might help someone else, so I share it now…
A hangman’s noose is a very particular knot with a long history. It was used for capital punishment and public execution. The noose functions with wraps around a running loop in a standing length of rope. Each coil adds friction to the knot, which makes the noose harder to pull open. Because 13 is considered an unlucky number, 13 coils are said to be found in a hangman’s noose. This is a popular myth. 7-9 coils are used, depending on the rope and the weight of the person being hanged.
Death by hanging is caused by a violent drop and jerk of the rope which wrenches the cervical vertebrae apart. This action produces a very quick death. Despite this, the majority of suicides by hanging rely on restriction of blood flow or suffocation, not by the snapping of the neck. I only know these things because I researched them when I selfishly decided to take my life.
About 5 years ago I had a mental/emotional breakdown after 3 years of continous sobriety. I always stayed very close to an anonymous 12 step program, doing everything “suggested.” I had a sponsor, sponsees and strong support network. I was attending 6-7 meetings weekly. I had service commitments in which I brought meetings to rehabs and jails. I worked directly out of “the book” which outlines a spiritual program of action. I had a direct relationship with a Power Greater than myself. I was doing everything asked of me, but I continued to slip deeper and deeper into despair.
I kept saying to myself, “This too shall pass,” but I only got worse. The final straw was when I suffered a series of panic attacks at work; something I had never experienced. I could no longer function day to day. The obsession to drink and use had long since left me. I had no desire to get loaded, but I also knew I could no longer exist the way that I was feeling. The only option I could come up with on my own was to end the suffering myself. I wasn’t seeking attention or being dramatic. I told no one. Instead, I took a rope and walked to a place where I knew I wouldn’t be interrupted or deterred from my mission.
I flung the rope over a stout branch and sat underneath the eucalyptus trees, bawling while I fastened a perfect noose. I stood up to hoist the noose to its proper height where I could jump from a perch and snap my neck. My plan was not to strangle.
As I rose, I looked up to see a young boy directly in front of me. He couldn’t have been older than 9 or 10. He stared past my tears inquisitively and asked what I was doing. Caught off guard and startled, the first thing I thought to say was that I was making a swing. He grinned wide-eyed and said he loved to swing. I did my best to conceal the noose as I took it apart and created a swing. We spent the next 15-20 minutes swinging and laughing without a care in the world. His frantic parents appeared, scolded him for running off and skeptically thanked me for keeping an eye on the boy.
I sat in the empty eucalyptus grove and thought about how close I had come to forfeiting the greatest gift I had ever been given. My depression wasn’t gone. My situation was still the same. I still felt broken inside; but, in an instant, my perspective had changed. I wanted more than ever to live. I had hope.
That moment in the grove gave me the strength to seek outside help. In the weeks to follow, I found a licensed therapist and a medical doctor who collaborated to help me restore a chemical balance in my brain. This got me to the point where the spiritual tools I had come to know and love finally began to work again.
Today, I have been off of “psych meds” for 3 years. I occassionally battle being melancholy, but I no longer suffer from clinical depression. I continue counseling and make regular appointments with my doctor to ensure I don’t fall into the pit that almost took my life.
The point is- as long as there is life, there is hope. If you are depressed, tell someone. Ask for help. I kept my feelings bottled up and for it, I almost paid the ultimate price. I am convinced that an angel visited me that day and gave me one more chance to choose a different path. Many who attempt this selfish path are not so fortunate.
Suicide is never a solution.
This is the easier, softer way…