Being a suicide survivor

By Ashley Mott

The thing about being a survivor of suicide is that it has permanently changed your life in one way or another. Being a survivor doesn’t just mean that you yourself tried to commit suicide. It also means that you have survived the aftermath of someone else taking their own life. I am a survivor because I watched the aftermath happen, and I was in the epicenter of it. Watching the world move in blurs around me as I tried to make sense of it all.

Now, almost four years later it has changed me in many ways. Now, when someone I know is depressed, on high alert or says something event slightly alarming, my entire being goes on edge. It’s like there’s a Def-con 1 alarm ringing in my head that is telling my entire body to get help from anyone who is willing to lend a hand and listen.

Going against that urge brings a lot of guilt, so many times I don’t go against it. I call every hotline there is and every resource available. Every possible way there is to save them, I try it. I may not succeed, but in the end I will have tried every way I know to keep them alive. I never want live with the guilt of knowing I could have done more. Maybe that’s a selfish thought, but is it really so selfish to want to save the lives of those who aren’t capable of saving themselves?

The responsibility that you feel to protect those who are out to harm themselves after you have lost someone close to their own hand is overwhelming. You want to do what’s right consistently, even if it means facing their anger later on.

In my perspective, I’d rather have my friend be alive and have the choice to be mad at me in the future than have them be gone and have to live without them.

So, for all those out there who’ve seen it before and know what it’s like to live with it afterwards, it’s alright to want to report everything all the time. Because you have now seen the signs that lead to that path. You’re the first line of defense that these people have. I think that they need to be protected at all times. Knowing what could happen means that you know how fast you have to act and how to suck it up when things are going to get rough.

Everyone wants to be cautious around the girl whose boyfriend died, and I get that. For a really long time that was all I wanted, was for people to tip-toe around me because it kept me in this bubble where I didn’t have to face the pain that was oh-so real. Eventually, though, I had to change that and start talking about what happened, because having that happened put me in a precarious place where I knew what had to be done to try and save someone. I didn’t know the first time, and I lost them. However, I will never lose another person that I care about if I can help it.

So yeah, I get labeled as the girl that was “left-behind” or labeled a suicide survivor by therapists and all the people around me, and believe me I used to hate those terms.

However, now I embrace them because I am a suicide survivor, because by definition  “A suicide survivor is one of the family and friends of someone who has committed suicide.”  Now, I will do my best to keep anyone else I know from facing that same title by getting people the help they need to keep living.

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