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Acknowledge the Trauma of a Suicide Attempt to Move Forward

September 19, 2019 Britt Mahrer

Trigger warning: This post contains a frank discussion of suicide as it pertains to the trauma of a suicide attempt.

Finding self-love after a traumatic suicide attempt seems like a daunting task. After all, of the many thoughts circling the brain after an event of intended suicide, very few of if any are positive. It's more common to feel fear, shame, and misery. And though the immediate hours, or days, or even weeks after such an attempt may be filled with distractions or adjustments, eventually the question will arise–can I ever learn to love myself after the trauma of a suicide attempt?

Acknowledge the Trauma After a Suicide Attempt

An incredibly important thing to remember after a suicide attempt is that it istrauma. Yes, it is a self-caused one, let's put no buffers around that, it's the truth. But nonetheless, it is a life-changing event that is incredibly difficult to process. Suggesting anyone begin the journey towards self-love after the trauma of a suicide attempt is already a difficult task, but when we are carrying unprocessed trauma, it's downright impossible. It's like asking ourselves to climb a mountain carrying a backpack full of bricks. (We all carry a few bricks, nobody is baggage-free, but a whole backpack is way too much.) You have to lessen the load before you can begin the climb.

How we choose to process an event like this can vary, but here are two suggestions:

  1. Start therapy. The hard truth is that the things in your head were or still are bad. Bad enough you made the assessment that ending your life sounded more appealing than continuing to live as you have. Therapists are trained to understand this stuff, and if you find a good one, you're going to get to explore yourself with an expert team-mate. It's worth it. (I suggest looking into eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), a type of therapy designed to help process trauma.)
  2. Don't waste energy pretending everything is okay. Though you may be experiencing deep shame around your suicide attempt, trying to hide it is exhausting and, frankly, unnecessary. When we try to hide mental issues, we add to the belief that such things in our society must be hidden. Many of those bricks in your backpack come from trying to stay hush-hush about this event. You don't need to start a podcast or scream it from the mountaintops, but a suicide attempt is now a part of your history–accept it, stay open about it, and release the fear that people will find out. (Also, from a practical standpoint, the people around you probably know about it already, these things spread like wildfire.)

I discuss recognizing the trauma after a suicide attempt more deeply in the following video:

Moving Forward After the Trauma of a Suicide Attempt

One of the most important life skills we can learn is how to accept responsibility for the things we do. Have you ever met someone who refuses to admit they are anything but correct? We have a natural reaction to these people–we stop wanting to connect with them. Instead, we reach towards the people who are able to admit fault and still be okay with themselves. These are the people who have learned self-forgiveness. 

After a suicide attempt is a time when we can learn to tap into self-forgiveness. It's not easy, of course, but there is incredible power in learning to release the self-blame that often follows a suicide attempt. We learn to tell ourselves that life is filled with stumbles and falls and that we can't prevent them all. We can only pick ourselves up and keep going. 

How are you moving forward after experiencing the trauma of a suicide attempt? Let me know in the comments.

If you feel that you may hurt yourself or someone else, call 9-1-1- immediately.

For more information on suicide, see our suicide information, resources and support section. For additional mental health help, please see our mental health hotline numbers and referral information section. 

APA Reference
Mahrer, B. (2019, September 19). Acknowledge the Trauma of a Suicide Attempt to Move Forward, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2020, April 7 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/buildingselfesteem/2019/9/acknowledge-the-trauma-of-a-suicide-attempt-to-move-forward



Author: Britt Mahrer

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