No Regrets? Surviving Attempted Suicide

No regrets? Surviving attempt suicide - image of a phoenix

First off, before we talk about surviving attempted suicide, we’ll establish a couple of things:

  • If you’re having thoughts of suicide and need to reach out, there’s a list of crisis resources here.
  • No need to worry about me; I’m not currently suicidal.

Regretting attempts

I recently saw a post by Elizabeth of Life. Love. Bipolar. on the topic of suicide attempts and the way people only talk about a certain kind of regret. She mentioned Kevin Hines, a well-known motivational speaker who survived a suicide attempt by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge. He describes feeling regret as soon as he jumped. Not everyone feels that way, though; for some people, the regret comes from not dying.

According to PsychAlive, 29 people have survived jumping from the Golden Gate Bridge, and they have all expressed regret at trying to take their lives. In an interview with The Guardian, Australia’s national mental health commissioner said that in a study in that country the majority of people who have attempted suicide “report having this profound realization during their attempt that they want to live.”

AFSP statistic: for ever suicide there are 25 suicide attempts

Regretting surviving

That’s great that some people are experiencing this kind of regret and able to shift focus to wanting to live, but, like Elizabeth pointed out, we also need to talk about the fact that for some people surviving attempted suicide, the regret is about not dying. While this is less talked about, it’s equally valid, and those stories deserve to be heard as well. There needs to be room in the conversation for all viewpoints, regardless of how uncomfortable they may be to hear about.

I’ve had four suicide attempts, plus a few in hospital that I don’t remember. After each of them, my regret was not dying. I don’t recall any ambivalence at the time around living vs. dying; I was very much set on dying. Nothing magically changed after the attempt. My life didn’t get instantly better, and I didn’t get well anytime soon. If anything, being hospitalized initially made things worse.

The role of impulsivity

In a study published in Psychiatry Investigation, it was determined that 48% of suicide attempt survivors had made an impulsive attempt. Impulsive suicide attempts were associated with lower intensity of suicidal ideation and less intent to die. People who were non-impulsive were more likely to identify psychiatric symptoms as the primary reason for their attempt.

I suspect that the more impulsive the attempt, the more likely it would be that a person would later regret it. My attempts were not impulsive. They were planned, and I tried to resist the thoughts of suicide as long as I could solely because I was concerned about hurting my family.

There’s more on this issue in the post Suicidality: Impulsivity vs. Planning.

Relationship with death

I’m not sure if it’s the depression or something else, but I continue to have a bit of an odd relationship with death. I go on living because it’s status quo, not because I have any particular wish to be alive. The thought of dying doesn’t bother me at all. That’s not to say that I’m suicidal. While there are times when, because of my illness, I do wish to die, entirely separate from that there’s also a sort of baseline undercurrent of being okay with death. It has nothing to do with a wish to die. It’s more a sense that the happy times of my life are behind me, and death is just a natural part of the human cycle of existence.

All experiences are welcome

I think that it’s important that the dialogue around suicide incorporates the broad spectrum of experiences people have in relation to it. We don’t need more taboos around what is okay or not okay to say.

Sometimes, the voices of suicide attempt survivors are left out of the conversation entirely. But we’re here; we exist, and we’re not a monolithic group who all have the same experiences. All different experiences related to suicide are equally valid.

If you’ve considered or attempted suicide in the past, what sort of relationship did you have with regret?

Straight talk on suicide - graphics of phoenix and semicolon

The Straight Talk on Suicide page has crisis and safety planning resources, along with info on suicide-related topics from the perspective of someone who’s been there.

46 thoughts on “No Regrets? Surviving Attempted Suicide”

  1. Ashley, this was well said. Too, often, we want to spin things in a way that will produce hugs and smiles, not realizing that truly understanding something requires knowledge of the darkness and pain. We don’t all fit into a pretty box with a neat label. The sooner we realize that the sooner we can grow and truly learn.😘

  2. Thank you for sharing this. While I’ve never been suicidal, I have had times where I’m angry that I woke up in the morning, if that makes sense?

  3. I’ve never actually attempted fortunately. My sister attempted many times before she succeeded though and she never showed regret for trying to die, but instead was sad she didn’t succeed. I think that is why I always feared the end result would be what it was 🙁

  4. Quite honestly, during the times I considered suicide, I wanted to die. Death was all I could think of. There was so much going on that I just thought, “there’s no point in living anymore.” Even though I am going through counseling/therapy on and off for the past four years, I don’t regret considering suicide. I felt so low and alone during those times that it was bound to happen.

    1. Sometimes I’ll read in suicide prevention literature that people don’t actually want to die. I think that’s really unhelpful, because yes, sometimes people do just want to die.

      1. Exactly and it doesn’t help (like you stated) to not talk about those who actually wanted to die rather than those who felt remorseful of attempting suicide

  5. This has really inspired for me to write a blog post about how I felt before and after my suicide attempt. Plus the after effects.

  6. I have had thoughts and sometimes still have like maybe if I didn’t live it’s okay. Then I will not suffer from anxiety anymore. I also just know that I won’t do anything to hurt myself. I’m afraid of dying and also afraid in life so yeah what a way of existing. I can understand you so well. It’s important to raise awareness about this topic and not create more taboos around it. It’s already hard enough. You are brave for speaking up too 💕

  7. While I have made no valid attempts, I have reached the point where I simply don’t care if I live or die. There’s no overwhelming sense that I am destined for greatness and need to stay around another 40 years. If anything, it’s more a case of I pray I don’t plague my loved ones with another 40 years of my instabilities. I have dealt with death of loved ones since a young age, and in some regards- I think that initiated the feelings of abandonment and fear of loving, because death itself was just going to make people leave. The feelings sometimes lean towards feeling unworthy of living myself…but I just can’t seem to take that final step to do anything about it. Would I have any regrets if I were to try, and fail? It certainly wouldn’t be regret towards the attempt. It would be regret at the failure. With all of that said, I still would like to think that there could be some hope for learning how to deal with the depression and the effects that it has…maybe one day.

  8. First, I’m in awe at your strength. I hope you can find happiness in this life and want to live.

    My suicide attempt left me with the regret of hurting the one person I loved most before my kids, my husband. Recovery isn’t easy, and mental health needs to be a continued topic. Thanks for all you do on this blog!!!

  9. The relationship I have with regret is that, after I was thwarted, I regretted having failed. Over a year later (since my last attempt), I am glad that I failed. And although things are good for me right now, I realize that I may become suicidal in the future.

    Thank you for bringing this to the attention of the blogosphere.

  10. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and personal feelings on this. I attempted suicide a few times in high school, but I definitely felt relief later on for not dying and am now so grateful that I didn’t end my life then. But, I know that’s not the case for everyone. Your thoughts matter; thanks for your honesty.

  11. I can totally relate with the thoughts of everything good being behind you..and living because that is the status quo. So very true. It’s unfortunate though, as I would really like to live…and be happy. I have never attempted, but thought about it. “Planned it,” I guess you could say. Or maybe had it thought out in my head (i.e. put a note on the door that my daughter doesn’t come in the room…have someone else clear me out). It sucks. It really sucks when you feel so bad and that is the only resort, so it seems. I keep pushing on though. I do remember…about 20 years ago having a knife in my hand…and being so upset…but not wanting to use it..but holding it..maybe testing my willpower…or threatening suicide. I heard about someone the other day who tried to commit suicide at a motel up the road from us. It was picked up by police scanner (someone I knew was listening). Anyway, they said that he cut his wrist. I didn’t know that it only took a few minutes to die from that. I always thought I would have to get a gun or something..because I’d want it to be fast. I don’t want to suffer or do it and it not work. But..with that said, I am not actively suicidal, but these are the thoughts that have gone through my head. I’m so glad that your attempts did not work. You are a good friend and resource. Thank you for all you do.

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