An Unspoken Type of Suicide

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MP3 Audio (4.68 MB)


An Unspoken Type of Suicide

MP3 Audio (4.68 MB)

Suicide is a topic that has come to the forefront lately and as times get more difficult it is even more on the rise. Most sources agree that the main reasons for suicide are mental and personality disorders, which include depression. In other situations, people make on-the-spot decisions to commit suicide when the stresses in their life have reached a tipping point. These are all very serious problems, but there is another type of suicide that isn't talked about as much because it is considered a distraction from the primary types of suicide you normally think of.

It is the attention-seeking suicide attempt that accidentally succeeds. Teens and young adults are the primary victims, though not exclusively. It's tragic because most don't actually want to commit suicide. Instead, they think that if they can pretend to be suicidal, they'll get the attention they're seeking. But sometimes the fake attempt can succeed, and the person still dies. This type of suicide is sometimes scoffed at as not being real. Since it is challenging to take every suicide threat seriously—particularly the ones that are perceived as vain, fake, attention-seeking ones—it can be ignored.

It’s interesting that when you share a story like this how many others are willing to step up and share their own.

One problem with these accidental attention-seeking suicides is that sometimes the person who does it makes no threat in advance, so nobody is even alerted to the possibility. I once tried to fake a suicide attempt, but my only motive was to be noticed attempting it in order to be saved.

I was a teenager. I had met a boy while staying at a lake cabin, and I liked him very much. We spent time talking on the phone and declared ourselves boyfriend and girlfriend. The next time we traveled to the cabin I brought my best friend with me, and the two of them instantly fell for each other. I was, of course, upset and angry that my friend could do this. They spent all their time together and only occasionally reluctantly included me, which just infuriated me more. In my childish thinking, I began to scheme.

I decided that if he saw me in despair and danger, he would save me and feel horrible about what they had done to me, and everything would return to normal. So one evening I sat alone on the dock, watching the sunset and feeling sorry for myself. Then I thought to myself that if I were to swim out until I couldn’t swim anymore and scream for help, the boy would come to my rescue. I jumped into the water and swam quite a distance out. I was completely exhausted and in real danger. Though I tried to scream out, it was difficult, and in the end, no one heard me. Even if they had, the sun was too far down and no one could see me. No one was going to save me; there would be no romantic movie scene rescue for me.

I began to panic and attempted to swim back, but I was swallowing water and flailing in place. I knew this could be the end of me, so I took hold of my emotions and prayed fervently for God to help me get back to shore. Then I began to swim. It seemed to me like there were miles of water before me. Every stroke was laborious. But I finally made it and praised God for allowing me to live. I told no one of my stupidity and felt embarrassed and ashamed. Looking back as an adult, it is obvious that my plan would have never worked.

What has surprised me is that mine is not an isolated story. Over the years, I have seen and heard similar stories from others. It’s interesting that when you share a story like this how many others are willing to step up and share their own. We feel less silly when we see our own mistakes in others.

The take-away

Here’s what’s important to understand. I did not fall into the category of someone who was seriously depressed. Nor was I mentally challenged in any way other than the fact that I was young and ignorant. I also never attempted anything like it again. I never displayed any of the warning signs typically associated with suicidal people. Anyone could fall prey to this type of bad thinking, and it is no less serious than other forms of suicide.

Natasha Tracy writes: “There is a notion out there that a suicide attempt is a 'cry for attention' and, thus, this invalidates what the person has done or makes it 'not serious.' I would beg to differ. First off, of course, many suicide attempts have nothing to do with 'attention,' per se, but secondly, so what if it did? . . . Why does that make it less serious?” (Natasha Tracy, "So what if a suicide attempt is a cry for attention?" Healthy Place).

My decision was foolish, but because of my youth, I was also not educated about the danger and seriousness of suicide. Ecclesiastes states, “Why should you die before your time?” (7:17). I think it is important that we speak to young people and help them understand these types of danger. Use my story if you like.

If I had heard a story like mine back then, I don't think I would have attempted what I did, and instead tried to work through my relationship issues some other way. “Whoever heeds life-giving correction will be at home among the wise" (Proverbs 15:31, New International Version).

My story could have ended so differently. I thank God that it didn't.

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  • Annmae50

    Hello Skip Miller,
    I don't appreciate one word you said. It is a typical response with no real thought. It is a one size fits all solution. I go out into the world every day and "help".
    I am like an empty nester waiting for my child to phone home. My car was repossessed, so, I ride the city bus. For some unknown reason people love to tell me their life stories. I practice GIVING to others what I NEED!!! I am not a selfish, feel sorry for myself person. THAT was not Jesus. Helping someone in a similar situation is not always the answer and ,if not careful, can make matters worse. Your comment was judgemental, insensitive and a cliche.

  • Sherrie_Giddens

    You are very courageous for sharing your story and I hope that it helps others. I would add that even those fake attempts, or those that are seen as a cry for help, are cries for help that should be listened to. Those who resort to this kind of thing in order to have others reach out to them, do so because they can think of no other way to open communication about what they are feeling or what they are going through. It might seem fake or unreal, but the feelings behind it are feelings that are very real and for some reason cannot be dealt with in a mature way. Kudos to you for sharing your story in order to help others.

  • Lorelei Nettles

    Sherrie, you bring up a very good point. I was not good at expressing my feelings and kept most things wrapped up. In a similar situation, most would probably yell or communicate their hurt. I did not, and could not. Even today I have a problem with expressing my feelings about things that bother me, but I continually work on it.

    Thanks for your feedback!

  • Annmae50

    I have experienced thoughts of suicide. I want to be with God. There is nothing here for me. I f you are over 60 no one is concerned or cares. I never had much of a life growing up. I managed to go to college and obtain a degree, only to lose the only job I loved after over 20 years. I repented of my sins and was baptized. I never had hands laid on me to receive the holy spirit. I found out , after following the teachings of the United Church Of God, that I had been deceived by religion. I have always been aware of God's spirit around me protecting my physical life . Like Job, God would not allow the devil to kill me. Unlike Job, my life did not improve. My latter years have not been better. I feeI am at a crossroad.

  • Lorelei Nettles

    Hello Annie,
    I am so sorry to hear that you feel this way. I have had very low points in my life where I didn't see how I could go on. Sometimes we get caught up in our darkest thoughts and dwell there. I have said many times over the years, "I will not live here". Meaning I refused to stay in the emotional place I was in. It is not an easy road but it is a road we can smooth.

    I agree with Skip Miller however that getting involved is so important! The more we change our routine and get into new ways the better. When we serve others we also start to find purpose and create new friendships and bonds. Whether it is through volunteering somewhere or just visiting others at a nursing home or holding babies at a center.

    You didn't mention if you are still attending church. If you are, I hope you will talk to your pastor or those attending with you. It is important to have people in your corner who you can talk to and who can pray for you.

    Remember, God is there for us, and by following the lead of Jesus Christ we can find peace. I will be praying for God to guide you. Please don't isolate yourself, get out there and get involved!

  • Skip Miller

    Hello Anne , Suicide is definitely not the answer ! If you recall some of what you learned in United Church of God, you will recall that Most of the world does not YET understand God's Plan and must be taught it before they can be finally judged by Jesus our Savior.

    But that doctrine seems to me NOT what you are really interested in anyway.
    You want others to care.
    You want others to care about you ! Very normal and reasonable and proper.
    But how can you get this ?
    Perhaps as you say no one really cares about 60 year OLD people.
    Even you know that this is not strictly true. I'm 80. and yet people down the block sang Happy Birthday to ME today before a “going away” party for another neighbor family
    which is moving to Assisted Living.

    Now I want to tell you how to help yourself.
    You Must find someone, anyone, who is apparently lonely.
    There are agencies in every American city who have people helping lonely, depressed, even suicidal people. BUT I don't want you to get help !!!! I want you to Give help.
    And that is YOUR Solution.

    Until you practice GIVING to others what you yourself NEED, your life will not improve.

    Sound illogical? But THAT was Jesus.

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