Suicide (Latin suicidium, from sui caedere, “to kill oneself”) is the act of intentionally causing one’s own death. Suicide is often committed out of despair, the cause of which can be attributed to a mental disorder such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorders, alcoholism, or drug abuse. Stress factors such as financial difficulties or troubles with interpersonal relationships often play a significant role.
Well, there you have it. I wanted to post a blog entry on this subject because suicide has touched my life in so many ways. You could say that it has been my constant companion for most of my life.
I started thinking about committing suicide when I was a teenager. My father was not a very nice man. He was especially abusive to me. So as a child, I told myself that I must be adopted. Why else would he treat me so horribly? I was really very shy growing up so when I got to middle school I was miserable. Some of the kids called me a “sissy.” My first attempt was when we were living in the house on Cooper Road. I had a syringe (don’t remember where I got it) and I filled it with rubbing alcohol. It burned when I injected it into my vain, but I didn’t die.
The second attempt was soon after. I took a whole bottle of aspirin. I remember laying down on my bed and waiting to die. I woke up the next morning with my head feeling like it was stuffed with cotton. Other than not being able to hear very well for a few days, it didn’t do much of anything else to me.
High school proved to be better for me. No attempts during those years. It was a good time, for the most part. I was different. I was still being called names. I had a few friends. I kept busy. I skipped classes a lot, so I did a lot of reading in the library. After high school, I went to art school in Pittsburgh (I had a full tuition scholarship). I did try to kill myself several times in those two years, though.
I was alone. I hadn’t “come out,” yet. I was miserable again, so I tried slitting my wrists. But I didn’t know how to do it properly. I made the cuts horizontally, instead of vertically. I laid down to die, but woke up to find that the blood had clotted. So I got a butcher knife out of the kitchen drawer and tried hari-kari (the Japanese ritual of suicide which means “stomach-cutting”), but just ended up with a scratch on my stomach. Finally, I went up on the roof of my apartment building. I climbed over the rail and walked to the edge, intending just to step off. But I didn’t. Something stopped me.
When I moved back to Northern Virginia, I had to move back in with my mom. I made one more attempt. I drove over to Mount Vernon one night and took a hose I had brought with me, put one end in the tail pipe and the other through the floor board. I don’t know how long I had been there, and I was almost asleep, but I made myself wake up. Something, maybe the same thing that had brought me back from the edge so many times before, brought me back one more time.
My sister, on the other hand was not so lucky. Her second attempt (the first had been pills in a hotel room) was successful. She took her husband’s service revolver and put it to her temple. After that, I never tried again. I thought about it, but she had taken my one way out and I was pretty mad at her for a long time. I’m not mad any longer, though. I made my peace with her a long time ago. It doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it since she took her life. I have. But I would never do it.