*Trigger Warning for suicide. In-depth details of an attempted suicide are outlined in this post*
If you’ve ever watched Flashpoint than you probably know what a “talkdown” is, but for those of you who don’t know what it is, it is when police and emergency squads talk down a person about to attempt/commit suicide off of a ledge. A lot of the time you hear about talkdowns from the perspective of the emergency worker, but today I thought I would share the point of view of the person who was saved, several years later.
What happened before the incident?
I was going through a really hard time in my life when I went to the emergency room and asked to speak with a psychiatrist. At this point in my life, I was admitted to this specific hospital over 40x and spent a consecutive 3 years in a bed at this hospital alone. So, clearly, I knew the psychiatric team really well. When I went in for suicidal thoughts that night, I was told to go home. I want to point out that it is extremely out of character for me to ask for help before I do something. I usually at least self-harm in some way before being transported to the hospital. But due to my long record at this hospital, the psych didn’t take me seriously. I’m diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), click here to learn more about my story, which has a stigma attached to it regarding manipulation and attention-seeking. Since I hadn’t self-harmed that night, therefore, needed no medical treatment (physically) the psychiatrist told me to go home and when I told her that I didn’t feel safe and needed to be hospitalized (again, completely out of character for me. About 90% of the time I was admitted to the hospital it was on a form which legally binds me to the grounds), she laughed. This psychiatrist wasn’t my regular and this was one of the first times she saw me, but there is still absolutely no excuse to laugh at someone who is suicidal. She told me I had been admitted so much it clearly wasn’t helping me, and that she thought I was looking for attention due to the stigma of BPD. I told her to read through my files and see that I wasn’t kidding and that this was serious but she said there are other patients more worthy of a bed. I pleaded with her to be admitted because I knew I wasn’t going to make it through the night. She replied, “prove it.”
What was the incident?
I felt like I had literal smoke coming out of my ears. Prove it, prove it, prove it, the words kept repeating over and over in my head. I walked out of the emergency room and the exit I took was right next to the parking garage which was several stories high and I thought, “I will.” I could have been intercepted several times before I climbed to the top of the lot. I was feeling absolutely awful, no one cared about me or what happened to me, I was too severe for treatment, and the reasons I went to the hospital in the first place were still ringing in my head and I was completely hopeless. People with BPD are known for black and white thinking which means basically every part of their life is all or nothing which unfortunately makes us susceptible to injury and death. 1 in 10 people with BPD will commit suicide and the number of those who die from complications and co-occupant disorders is significantly higher but the statistic is still unknown.
As I’ve said before, I was known at this hospital pretty well so security always kept an eye on me. The security cameras caught me going to the top of the lot, and the team called the cops. I took a minute when I was at the top of the unit to look around at the world one more time. I saw it’s beauty as a cold breeze brushed against my face making my tears feel like ice, the stars illuminated the sky but the darkness was euphoric. I looked beyond my feet at the grey cement on the ground, I remembered when I was 8-years-old I made a pact with myself that if I was on a ledge and didn’t care if someone pushed me, I was ready to leave the world. I sat for a minute, thinking if I would care. I tried to convince myself that I wouldn’t but as each second passed I could feel myself dying to stay alive.
I saw a police officer on the ground beneath me. Shit. I swung my feet back over to the ground, feeling the guilt ride over me if I jumped and hit this officer on my way. I closed my eyes, my head felt like it weighed 100 pounds. Prove it. I swung my feet back over.
“Hi,” the officer said in a calm voice.
“Hi” I said bouncing my feet awkwardly against the roof. “Can you move?”
“Nope. How are you feeling?”
“How do you think?”
“Is there anything I can do?”
“Nope.” As he spoke to me I was trying to figure out a way to jump where I wouldn’t hit him or anyone else.
“What are you doing up there?”
I laughed, “I’m having a party.”
“A smile. That’s what I like to see.”
“Too bad, I don’t deserve it.”
“Everyone deserves to smile.”
“I’m not everyone.”
“Can you swing your legs over for me? Go and see the officer behind you?”
I looked over my shoulder to security and an officer standing a few dozen feet back, waiting for me. I went silent. I had flashbacks to the reason I was here in the first place, I thought of the psych that thought I was attention seeking, I thought of how I’ve spent my entire life in a hospital bed. This wasn’t living. My entire adolescence was spent in a hospital gown, making friends who would be discharged a week later and never talk to me again. I thought of the fact I never went to high school, how I was a failure. I thought of my coming out as a transgendered person, how I lost almost every one. They said love is unconditional but gender sure as hell felt like a condition. I thought of my girlfriend’s dead body with my pills lying next to her. I wasn’t alive, I was existing. The only thing I could do now was end it. End it so that psych will know that BPD is a disorder, not a bet. Maybe that would help others like me, maybe I could finally do something with my life. I looked down at the officer and slowly inched my body closer to the ledge.
“I’m sorry.” As I lifted myself off of the ledge I saw the blinding flashing lights of the cars beside me. The car alarms went off and people started shouting. Confused I looked beside me to see the police squad charging. This was happening in just milliseconds. I soon found my head smashed into the pavement with police restraining my arms and hospital staff running up with a stretcher.
Several Years Later…
Several years later, I’m alive and not just existing. I’ve recovered from Bulimia and benzodiazepine addiction, I graduated high school as a scholar and got into every university I applied to. I work a part-time job that I love and live in a nice little apartment. I advocate for mental health on a daily basis. I travelled all around Ontario to speak about my experiences with mental illness, I won several awards for short-films I directed regarding my experiences, and was awarded by my city and school for my bravery.
I’m not going to lie and say that everything is honky dory, I still struggle. I had to take several years off before I went to university to make sure my health was in check, I experienced a few tragedies, and I go through bouts of severe depression. But I haven’t attempted suicide since that day, and I am actively working on my outpatient treatment status. I haven’t been hospitalized in over 3 years, I started hormone therapy and got to a point with my family of understanding about my gender, I levelled out my medication and go to therapy 3x a week. I’ve appeared in my universities newspaper regarding my disability, and have been recognized a few dozen times on the street for my work in mental health advocacy (which is always flattering)!
I decided to share this with you today because one of my friends posted on Facebook about his suicidal thoughts. I realized I never really told this part of my story because I was ashamed of it. I came so close to the end. I was always the person who laughed when people said “as soon as you jump you’ll regret it,” thinking they had no idea how I felt, but as one of the people who has actually done it, I have to agree.
There are a few lessons to be learned from this story,
- Never laugh at someone who is experiencing an immense amount of pain you know nothing about
- No matter how low your life can get, you can achieve everything you’ve ever wanted
- Nothing can hold you back from your life’s purpose, not even you