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21 reasons to keep living when you feel suicidal – ANITH
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21 reasons to keep living when you feel suicidal

21 reasons to keep living when you feel suicidal

Dese’Rae L. Stage keeps a list of things that make her happy. It includes going to the movies alone, walking around with a giant cup of coffee, and quiet time with her wife. She learned a long time ago, after attempting suicide, that gratifying distractions and reminders of life’s small pleasures might save her in a moment of crisis. 

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Stage knows that even if a person once attempted or contemplated suicide, it doesn’t mean that’s how their life will end. She knows this because she’s a living example. She’s also the creator of Live Through This, an initiative that documents the portraits and stories of suicide attempt survivors. Stage has interviewed 186 people in 36 cities across the U.S. who once tried to end their lives but didn’t. 

The popular perception of suicide — that it’s unstoppable once the idea takes root — doesn’t reflect the reality that Stage and so many other survivors know. Indeed, 9 out of 10 people who attempt to take their own lives and survive do not ultimately die by suicide, according to research

“I don’t think I’ll ever be cured of my suicidal thoughts, but I also don’t think I’ll take my life,” Stage says. “There’s a lot of room for growth and movement past the suicidality even if it’s something that occurs several times over a lifetime.” 

Stage says that coping with suicidal thoughts can get easier with time, particularly once a person develops a set of skills to help manage negative or volatile emotions. Safety planning and creating a support network make a critical difference. 

It’s also important to remember that not everyone who becomes suicidal has an obvious or diagnosed mental illness, says Stage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that more than half of those who died by suicide between 1999 and 2016 didn’t have a known mental health condition. (Those without a known mental health condition were more likely to be men and died by firearm.)

Stage says we tend to associate suicide strictly with mental illness and overlook other known factors related to trauma and adversity, including relationship problems, substance use, financial struggles, health issues, and sudden crises. 

“This is just life, not mental illness,” she says. “[T]he truth is that any of us could end up in that place.”

Stage hopes that Live Through This will change the stories we tell each other and ourselves about why people attempt and die by suicide. It’s also a community of survivors who support each other privately, often in a Facebook group designated only for those who’ve participated in Live Through This. 

In recognition of World Suicide Prevention Day on Sept. 10, Mashable asked Stage if members of the Live Through This Facebook group would share their reasons for living. 

You can read their hopeful answers here:  

1. I stay because I discovered I’m not ready to go. — Lex Tobin

“I stay because I discovered I’m not ready to go.”

2. I stay because living and loving are not possible if I am gone. I would miss all of this senseless beauty. Making the world a better place for my granddaughters is worth any pain. — Cheryl Sharp

3. I stay because I’m now in a unique position to educate, advocate, offer hope, and save lives. [Two] specifically that I know of. — Liz Mitchell

4. A dear friend’s brother died by suicide several years ago. The memory of his funeral — of the intense singular suffering that comes with losing a loved one to suicide — has kept me from ever attempting suicide again. No matter how bad my depression gets, I know that there are people who would be devastated if they lost me, and when it’s too hard for me to live for myself, when every cell in my body wants to give up, I tell myself that I will keep living for them, and I do. And bonus: eventually the depression lifts, because with time it always lifts, and I’m able to start living for myself again as well. — Melody Moezzi

5. I feel like overcoming a lot has put me in a position where I’m able to help people.  At this point, I feel like one of my purposes in life is to educate people on suicide via a lived experience perspective — something I feel we don’t see enough of. That keeps me going if I have bad days.
—Caitlin Coleman

6. I stay for my dog, I stay for my family, I stay to see what I’ll create next. — Logan

7. I stayed for my sisters, my grandparents, and I eventually came to accept, I stayed for me. — N.P.

8. I stayed for myself and for my kids who accepted me as their mom with all my flaws and my talent! — Nancy Nettles

9. I stay because my students deserve an adult who always puts them first and fights for their well-being. — Marie

10. I stay because if I leave, what is my story going to tell? I want to be stronger than that. I want to be more vulnerable with the precious friends and family around me. I want those people that are feeling the way I have felt, to know that things can get better. To know it’s OK to ask for help even if it seems stupid. To realize that maybe one day you’ll find what you are looking for, but even if you don’t, things will be OK. You can take a few wrong turns and find out that life still turns out OK. I want to have a story. Not one cut short by frustration. — Cayla

“I stay because there are so many more adventures to be had and so many fires of hope in people’s souls to ignite.”

11. I stay because that’s the natural course I’d rather follow. When I feel differently, I get help from the people who know the struggle. — MSB

12. I stay because there are so many more adventures to be had and so many fires of hope in people’s souls to ignite. — Rhianna Brand

13. I don’t have one big reason. Instead, I have thousands of little reasons, ranging from family and friends to the episodes of Bob’s Burgers I won’t get to see. Each reason, no matter how small, is an act of resistance that my suicidal thoughts would have to knock down. It’s sort of a way of passing time to ride it through. — Alyse Ruriani

14. I stay because I finally found long-term happiness. While it was terrifying to realize that I now had to relearn how to function as a happy person, it was worth it all. I stay because I want people to know of all the things I live with, and have lived through, and see that I am not only still here, but I am truly happy. I stayed to be a source of hope to those facing situations like mine; for those who feel forgotten and alone. — Cecelia Markow

15. I was given a second chance at life so I stay because 1) I want to honor the people who saved my life and 2) I’m stubborn. — Tina Aspegren

16. I stay because life is full of beautiful surprises that I can’t even fathom yet. I know there will be pain too, but I’ve learned to cope so much better. I think of all I would’ve missed out on if my attempt was successful, the most important that I never would’ve been an aunt and watch my nieces grow. I stay so they will have me to support them. — Melanie Demoree

17. I stay with the help of my service dog, Hero. Medicines don’t work and I was going to give up until he came along. — Megan Alldredge

18. I chose to stay so that I could have the opportunity to help others choose life over suicide. — Teagan Kempe

“I want to stick around and find out who I become.”

19. I stay for the loves of my life (boyfriend and dog) and for the adventure of writing. And [because] when I stay, I can help others to stay as well. — Jen Karner

20. I choose to stay for my two cats, the people I love and hold dear, the next gorgeous sunrise and epic thunderstorm, and the next good book or awesome cup of tea. The biggest reason I choose to stay is because I’m not ready to choose to go. — Ashley Shoemaker

21. I’m not who I thought I was. I want to stick around and find out who I become. — Paul Currington

If you want to talk to someone or are experiencing suicidal thoughts, text the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. Here is a list of international resources.

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Anith Gopal
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