Surviving Suicide…

November 18th is International Survivors of Suicide Day, a day when we should celebrate life and talk about mental health. September 10th was World Suicide Prevention Day, but why isn’t this something we talk about every day?
(* Trigger Warning – Suicide is discussed frankly.)

Surviving Suicide - International Survival of Suicide Day 18th Nov - The Last Krystallos

In 2016, 5,668 suicides were recorded in the UK – just under six thousand deaths each year. Male rates of suicide are still the highest at 75% but the rate of women dying by this method is growing significantly. 10 in 100,000 in the UK and roughly 13 in every 100,000 lives in the US are taken by suicide.

The Mental Health Foundation reports that 1 person in 15 have made a suicide attempt at some point in their life. This is sobering and worrying. It’s hard to find official statistics for survivors of suicide, but I believe many people would be shocked to discover they probably know someone who has attempted to take their own life. I know several people.

Light and Dark - Surviving Suicide - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Survivors of suicide are not just those who attempted to take their lives – they are those who have lost someone to this disease, those who can still hug someone who attempted suicide but lived, and those who tried to kill themselves and survived.

Please watch the film below about Kevin Hines who survived a leap from The Golden Gate Bridge:
‘I ran forward and using my two hands I catapulted myself into freefall. What I’m about to say is the exact same thing that nineteen Golden Gate Bridge jump survivors have also said – the millisecond my hands left the rail it was an instant regret and I remember thinking “No one’s going to know that I didn’t want to die.”

Please check out – Suicide: The Ripple Effect and its accompanying video for more information about Kevin and his work increasing the awareness of suicide attempts.

Mental Health - Surviving Suicide - The Last Krystallos

Original Photo © Caitlin Shambrook

If, in the UK, 1 in 15 have thought about, planned, and attempted suicide, but survived (including those who did die), the first question people often ask themselves is why and what did I miss?

‘Suicide is complex. It usually occurs gradually, progressing from suicidal thoughts, to planning, to attempting suicide and finally dying by suicide.’International Association for Suicide Prevention.
You may never know what drove someone to suicide or an attempt, due to its complexity.

I wrote a post on Understanding Depression a month ago, and explained that even though life can be good, mental health problems can overcome every good intention and persuade the sufferer that they are not worth saving. Mental Health services are getting better and more accessible, but it’s slow, and though the stigma is fading, it still needs more awareness and compassion.

Guilt often accompanies a suicide attempt, both from the person who tries to take their own life and their family who wonders why. Answers are hard, and sometimes impossible, for both parties, and support is vital to recover and move forward.

Tunnel Vision - Surviving Suicide - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Kevin Hines says: ‘Suicide, mental illness, and addiction are the only diseases that we blame the person for, perpetually, but people die from suicide just like they die from any other organ disease.’

He also talks about surviving, recovery, and creating a network of support.

We have to change the narrative, mental health has to be something we talk about, something we try to understand, something we care about. How we do that has to be across the board, from government, to schools, to parents, teachers, leaders, and all of us need to take responsibility for caring and understanding. Kevin Hines sits on the boards of the International Bipolar Foundation (IBPF), the Bridge Rail Foundation (BRF) the Mental Health Association of San Francisco (MHASF), and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s Consumer Survivors Committee, and tells his story wherever he can. He has touched lives and continues to do so.

I wish I could talk about my experiences with suicide (I touch on my own in the article I mentioned above), and with those I love who have experienced or attempted it, but that’s not my place.

Conflict - Surviving Suicide - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Just two days ago it was World Kindness DayKindness, compassion, love, understanding, and caring go a long way to help those who live precariously amid mental health conditions. You may know someone with suicidal tendencies, someone who self-harms, someone who can’t see through the fog of depression, someone who doesn’t know that anyone cares.

Be the one that does. Live with kindness and love.

If you are suffering, please find help. I did, and it saved my life. See your GP, find a counsellor, phone The Samaritans on UK 116 123, anytime, anywhere. If you can’t do any of these, please talk to a friend, partner, parent, or someone close to you.


© Lisa Shambrook

6 thoughts on “Surviving Suicide…

  1. Miranda Kate 💜 (@PurpleQueenNL)

    A good article and very helpful.

    I have an issue with suicidal thinking being called a ‘disease’ – as though it is a sickness of the body that can be treated/cured. I consider it a mindset, even though it can be brought on by other mental illnesses. (I have an issue with that label too! LOL)

    I personally think it has become more prevalent due to our society/lifestyle/conditioning, and basically a serious over population and lack of meaning to our lives. Too much focus on money and not enough on family/community. And ‘support network’ is a key thing. If you feel isolated, alone or as though you don’t belong, it’s difficult to create one. I don’t feel I have one in place at all.

    I don’t experience or ‘suffer’ depression, but I have suicidal thoughts regularly, have all my life. I don’t consider the two to walk hand in hand. Those I have known to successfully commit suicide, have never shown symptoms of depression. I have had lots of plans but never taken action on them. Fortunately I have been able to offset taking action by finding a way to change my perspective. Not easy to do. And talking about it as you urge people to do – that’s also key.

    To me the biggest struggle is that a lot of ‘community’ based organisations are attached to a religion (both in the UK & here in Holland), and being non-religious I can’t relate to the people and I don’t wish to have to become religious to derive the benefits from the organisation. It’s a struggle.

    It’s also the topic in my current novel.

    Thanks for highlighting it.

    1. Lisa Shambrook Post author

      It’s a tough subject, full of complex realities and reasons. I find it odd how people often associate suicidal tendencies only with people who are depressed, mentally ill, or sad. I am incredibly happy, but still are consumed with thoughts of ending my life at times. It’s more complex than any of us understand.

      I don’t like mental health being referenced as a disease either, though I understand the connotation when we try to equate other conditions such as cancer with mental illness, so people can try to understand and show more compassion. It is, as you say, a state of mind more than a disease.

      I do have a religious support network, but I never feel as though I can hook into it, I never feel I belong, and I make it hard for people to be there for me outside of my immediate family. My social media network/friends is stronger and more helpful to me!

      1. Finding Your Calm (@MirandaKateFYC)

        Funny re-reading this today, and then reading my comments, not realising it was me!! I was busy agreeing with myself. LOL

        I just wanted to also mention this article which explained perfectly to me why I am not depressed, but why I suffer suicidal thinking on a regular basis and often, and why sometimes I think I am at more risk of following through. There is a disconnect, a pointlessness that doesn’t lie in feelings per se, just an ‘I’m done’ feeling. For me personally it doesn’t get past more than a couple of days before it stops, and so I sort of ‘hold space’, letting those thoughts happen, confident they will pass, and not really interacting with them. And having my children (and then still needing me) holds me too.

        This article covers it exactly as I experience it.

        View at

        1. Lisa Shambrook Post author

          That’s an excellent article. I was musing in my journal yesterday over depression being overused as a reason for so many things. It contributes and I’ve definitely been depressed, but depression has never been a reason for my suicidal thoughts – but… all those ‘lesses’ in that article are exactly it.
          Thanks for that, Miranda xxx

  2. Jo-Anne Teal

    Dear Lisa, it is a very loving act to share this with others. Sharing is hope. Thank you for being you. Sending you many hugs.


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