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My Experience with Suicidal Ideation & How to Help Survivors

Normally, we try to approach our monthly themes from an academic context, but as I sat down to write this blog post, no academic explanation seemed right. I knew I had to talk about my personal experience. I promise we'll share a post hat deals with the facts and the statistics, but to me, as it is to many, suicide is a personal topic that has directly impacted my life. I hope you'll indulge me, or at least forgive me. I'm not sure if I feel more inclined to write about my experience to help others, or as a means of helping heal myself, but I couldn't bring myself to do this another way.

TW: discussions of suicide and sexual assault. Skip to the heading entitled "How to Help Survivors."


Personal Experience


I rarely talk about my experience with suicidal ideation. Sometimes, I compare my experience to those who have attempted suicide or struggled worse than I have. While I would never minimize those individuals' experiences, I have come to understand the struggle with suicidal ideation is very real and valid. I hope to reach others who have suffered in this way, or are currently suffering with ideation or considering suicide. I want them to know they are not alone and seeking help is the only way to move forward.


The first time I considered suicide was in college. It was shortly after a sexual assault and I felt hopeless. Suicide didn't start as my solution. Instead, it was passing thoughts, like feeling okay if I crossed a crosswalk and a car hit me. Eventually, this led to active thoughts about how I might end my life. I didn't know how to move forward and I was embarrassed by these thoughts. Thankfully, I had recently told my college Title IX Office about the assualt and they encouraged me to see a counselor about the sexual assault. The therapist asked directly about suicidal ideation, the first time I heard this term. She was able to help me through this phase.


During law school, when I began struggling again, I then knew where to turn. I sought therapy and help. This is certainly not to say that this came easily. It in fact, did not. Therapy was a lot of working through difficult emotions and experiences. It came with encouragement, as well as plans, and following through on such plans, to tell my family and friends what I was going through. It was almost impossibly difficult, but I made it through.


Sometimes, I still have triggers for these thoughts, but now I have a plan and a way to work through these things. I can be honest with my support system, and that is incredibly comforting. I enourage those who may be struggling to seek help. You do not have to endure these thoughts and feelings alone. Dial 988 to reach the Suicide Hotline for additional help (it works, I've done it a few times myself :)).


How to Help Survivors



Survivors are more likely to be diagnosed with PTSD and major depressive disorder. These disorders significantly impact stress and anxiety in a survivor's life. These disorders are linked with suicidal ideation. Here are some statistics from help you understand the impact:

  • Rape victims are 4.1 times more likely than non-crime victims to have contemplated suicide.

  • Rape victims are 13 times more likely than non-crime victims to have attempted suicide.

  • Survivors of sexual assault are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide.

  • Survivors whose first assault occurred before age of 16 were at an even greater risk of suicide attempt, from three to four times greater risk than other survivors.

  • Survivors in racially diverse groups are at an even higher risk of suicidal ideation or contemplation.

Clearly, there must be additional support for survivors to prevent suicide attempts, and completion, among survivors. It is important that we are aware that sexual assault trauma goes far beyond feelings of sadness, and that sexual assault can soon become a matter of life or death for the survivor.


If you are struggling with suicidal ideation, contact friends, family, therapists, doctors, and others who can assist you. Dial the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 988 day or night to reach support and feel the value of your life. Do it for you. You deserve it. Your worth is great and endless. You deserve to feel all life has to offer.





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