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The Myths and Truths of Suicide Around the Holidays and Throughout the Year

By Tara Pruett
Main photo for illustrative purposes only.

Whether it’s the holiday season or the growing occurrence seen in everyday life, depression and suicide are far-too-much the norm in today’s society. Author Tara Pruett bravely shared insights of her battle on social media and allowed us to reprint her thoughts for the Culturs audience. Be advised, the text is raw and straightforward.

MYTH: Suicide is my cry for attention.

MY TRUTH: Never once did I tell anyone beforehand that I had planned to kill myself. Nor did I want anyone to know after the fact. Once, I took a bunch of pills and fell asleep for three days. Upon awakening on the third day, I was confused. I tried to remember why I was in this position of sleeping until about 2 p.m. that afternoon. I did not know at that point that I had slept for three days.

I never told a single soul until age 47, and this happened when I was 15 years old. I told my sister about it, and I was laughing and joking about how hard it has been to kill myself. I told her about the numerous attempts I’ve made and about how I just kept waking up after each attempt — dazed and confused (usually in my own bed and twice in the hospital). I’m good at a lot of things, apparently not suicide.

MYTH: Depressed people mope around.

MY TRUTH: As I grew older, I learned to hide my depression by being “sweet” and playful. I did not want others impacted by what, at the time, was my desperately morose existence. I was depressed. That didn’t mean I wanted everyone else to be. At times, I’ve also distanced myself from people to protect them from my negative vibes. I want them to live in a world that is peaceful and full of joy.

MYTH: Suicide is the worst possible outcome for someone’s life.

MY TRUTH: I’ve made some very serious attempts at committing suicide, and when I hear that others are “successful,” I just see it as an opting out early on life. I see them as soaring into their next level of existence. My boyfriend once quipped about my suicide attempts: “Yes. You attempted suicide because you’re a do-er.” How hilarious and also how true a statement this is. I am not saying that I want anyone to be successful at suicide. I am saying, however, that I see it as them entering the next phase of their existence. This thing we call life does not end.

MYTH: Suicide is selfish.

MY TRUTH: This is just really ridiculous. Do you really expect someone to literally stay alive just for you — no matter the pain they are in? Let’s think about who is really being selfish here.

Depression is my teacher. It shows me what needs to be changed in my life. It shows me what is important.

MYTH: There is something you could have done to prevent this.

MY TRUTH: False. Many people go through horrendous things without becoming suicidal. This is not your fault or anyone’s fault. It is just what is happening. Stop making it about you because in doing so, you are creating unnecessary pain and suffering for yourself and that is the LAST THING I want to do or to be responsible for when I, myself, am suffering.

MYTH: If someone is depressed, they are a “depressed person.”

MY TRUTH: If you write me or anyone else off as a “depressed person” then you will miss the extreme joy and fun we are having with you and with this life. Engage with us in that joy and allow for the fact that we have this thing that you don’t understand, but that is not the entirety of who we are. My sister does not at all understand my depression. She just kind of observes it. She does not try to save me. She just sits with me. We laugh together. We play together. She listens. She wonders what is wrong with me. Overall, she is happy I am here. She wants me to stay with her in this experience. She wants me to be happy and normal and free of this thing that descends upon me at times — this thing we call depression. Yet, when I am not happy and normal and free, she does not run in fear. She just sits with me in her confusion and in her loving all of me.

MYTH: A depressed person feels the gravity of that depression every minute of the day.

MY TRUTH: The truth is that we have really cool and fun and interesting experiences throughout, but our minds don’t fully appreciate them when we are in this zone. People talk about being in “the zone” and how that increases their focus on something. Being depressed is like being in a VERY painfully negative zone. It has the same effect but in a painful, negative way.

MYTH: Depression is a malady (illness, sickness, ailment, disorder, complaint, disease, infection, indisposition, affliction, infirmity).*

MY TRUTH: Depression is my teacher. It shows me what needs to be changed in my life. It shows me what is important. It shows me who loves me and [who] stands with me.

MYTH: After coming so close to death on multiple occasions, I now know why I am here.

MY TRUTH: I have no idea why I haven’t been successful at killing myself while others are. I have no idea what my “purpose” is. All I can say is that I haven’t been successful at killing myself. About nine years ago, I decided to stop playing Russian roulette with my life because my worst fear — worse than dying — is not being able to take care of myself, and so, as I’ve suffered depths of despair since 2009, I have not attempted suicide again for the simple reason that I am not very good at it.

Many people have shown me that I am [loveable] — even in my darkest depression. When I couldn’t see it, hear it or feel it, they have been there just loving the hell out of me.

MYTH: I am unlovable because I suffer from depression.

MY TRUTH: Many people have shown me that I am [loveable] — even in my darkest depression. When I couldn’t see it, hear it or feel it, they have been there just loving the hell out of me. I am loved, and when I am not in my depression is when I can feel that the most.

MYTH: I am a “depressed person.”

MY TRUTH: I am a person who has had a pattern of being depressed. I am also a person who couldn’t read until I learned to read (and grew to be great at seeking knowledge in this way). I am also a person who couldn’t swim until I learned to swim (and became powerful and advanced in my swimming abilities). I am also a person who couldn’t speak until I learned to speak (and now I speak and I am heard and understood). Why would this be any different?

MYTH: I want sympathy.

MY TRUTH: The greatest gift you can give me is the gift of not giving me sympathy. I want to know that I’ve brought, and bring, the people in my life joy, love and laughter. If you reflect that I’ve done this with you, then that is THE GREATEST GIFT.

THIS IS MY ULTIMATE TRUTH.
This is my definition of depression. This is my definition of what it is to be suicidal and depressed. I am so free in knowing now that I create my definition of life.

THIS IS MY TRUTH.

*Editor’s Note: According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, depression is “a serious mental health condition that requires understanding and medical care.” Click here for more information on depression and treatment options.

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