INSIDE THE MIND OF A SUICIDAL PERSON
Buzzcut foundation has a podcast.
Did you know that?
The Mental Health Unboxed podcast is just another way that we as a foundation are spreading awareness about mental health.
The new series running on the podcast is on suicide.
Suicide; the act of intentionally causing one's death
Suicidal; an impulse to intentionally cause one's death
For our inaugural episode, we hosted Fatuma Zahara and Ronan Akantarona to share their personal experiences with suicide and suicidal thoughts. Zahara is a university student at Isbat University perusing a Bachelor of Commerce while Ronan is at Uganda Christian University perusing a Bachelor of Law.
When did you first start experiencing suicidal thoughts?
First time I had suicidal thoughts was in my form 4. Every time, I would join a candidate class with all that pressure, I would relapse. Towards my form 6, it got worse and I was diagnosed with MDD (Major Depressive Disorder).
So it has been a journey. It can be treated, I’m on medication but before it was a big problem
Ok, uhmm… it started when I was young. I went through a phase where I was sexually harassed and I kept quiet for a very long time. I tried to cover it up. Then I went to high school and it reached the highest point. I don’t know how to explain it.
I was in Form six everything was going south for me. I never had notes, I was falling sick every time and these suicidal thoughts came back to me. It was a very hard time for me. Actually, I went to my dormitory and got a bottle of pills and I took it all and that was the worst time in my life.
It happened again in 2018 when I got my results back. It was a very hard time for me because I was being compared to my siblings. It was really hard for me so I did it again.
Oh my God, I totally relate the same thing happened to me in 2015 when I got my S4 results. My parents were angry at me and I did not want to be on this earth because I felt so embarrassed. And you know how parents can compare you so I totally relate.
What happens, what goes through your mind when you are suicidal?
When it comes, the only voice you hear in your head is one telling you that you should do it. Me, I think my biggest problem is my thoughts.
I went through a phase where I cut myself. You feel like this life is not worth it, you want to go to the next whereby there will be something for you.
The thoughts come to you blaming you that there’s something wrong with you. Because you’re not sexually abused once twice or thrice it happens so many times. You feel disgusted with yourself.
There isn’t any voice in your head fighting for you, telling you don’t do this. Everything is telling you to do it.
Whenever I had those thoughts, what came to mind is you should just end it. Maybe there is something better out there, when you’re done with all this. Which is not right, not true. I never thought about the consequences and how it’s going to hurt the people around me. I feel like I was being selfish to my family and the friends that really care about me. The first thing my best friend told me after she found out I was trying to kill myself, “Why are you being selfish?”
The voices just keep on coming and it’s really hard to turn them off.
I took some time, I didn’t go to therapy (I really don’t have money for that) but my friends played a really big role and God obviously.
In that moment what stops you?
The first thing that comes to mind is you’re being selfish but then it’s never about being selfish. People do not understand the situation you’re in.
You’re in a room that has caught fire and the only way out is through a window. (That’s a metaphor for the suicide). Now somebody on the ground floor sees you and they yell, “Don’t jump, don’t jump!” but they don’t see the fire.” You see the fire and it’s consuming everything and it’s about to consume you too. In that way the only reason you don’t want to jump is the person screaming don’t jump. In your mind, you think my family will be so sad without me, I won’t let them down. But you see the fire in the room is much worse. So you compare the two and in the end you jump.
In that moment what stops you is that person or people on your side.
Most times I actually end up attempting suicide.
The last time I thought of the people around me and all the sacrifices basically for me it’s my mum. I think of all the sacrifices she has made and for me to kill myself it’s pretty selfish. I just decided to chill it.
Me, my suicidal thoughts where usually spurred on by bullies but I never attempted to commit it but I did have the thoughts. But I’m glad you guys were able to think through it and have been able to constantly fight this battle.
Do you still get suicidal?
To be honest every day, every day you want to die. The feeling of wanting to die has never gone away. It’s there constantly. Every day you question whether to live through another day. The self-hate is too much
Are there any other coping mechanisms aside from medication?
I try to find ways to distract myself but life is disappointing. Because of my condition, I take little enlightenment in everything. But then you try to take it day by day and everyday was a struggle.
Honestly as I told you it was my friends. Family does not understand but my friends play a huge role. Also I talked to God and I talked to God like he is my friend. I try to pray and talk to my friends and I felt a little bit better.
You’re in a room that has caught fire and the only way out is through a window. Someone on the ground floor sees you and they yell, “Don’t jump, don’t jump!” but they don’t see the fire.”
You see the fire and it’s consuming everything and it’s about to consume you too.
– Ronan Akantarona
Would you say you have supportive friends people you can run to and speak to?
Yeah I do, I have such friends but I always get this thought that they wouldn’t understand me.
I also don’t want to be a burden. I don’t want to talk about it. I just make jokes about it but I don’t really open up about it.
I think you’re even scared about how they’ll take you because you’re supposed to be strong.
Remember I was ridiculed because I was sexually abused by a woman so it kind of like… If you bring up such a topic you’ll be ridiculed. You be there with your friends and your friends make jokes and you just decide to keep it to yourself.
That’s another thing, society has made it so that me are supposed to be strong. Statistics show that mostly women are sexually abused however men ae also sexually abused. So if a man stands up and says that he has been sexually abused people are going to make fun of you or they’ll turn it around and say maybe it was you. I understand how it can be difficult
What has been helping you cope?
One thing that has really helped me is moving out and being free. I don’t like to be locked up because my thoughts there become more powerful.
Taking walks not necessarily with people but just being free.
Working to take your mind off things Distracting your self
Friends and God
How should people react to suicide?
The best thing you can do is to keep your mouth shut. Don’t tell the person to be positive because that’s like an insult.
Just give them a hug and be there for them. With regard to men’s mental health, people should come out and talk more about it to try and raise more awareness.
When we all heard about the student who took her own life, everybody was posting on mental health and I’ll be there for you.
But you actually go to someone and tell them something and then they just say sorry and you’ll be fine. You lose morale.
People should not just do things for the trend but actually do it because it is important. People just like to tag along but don’t actually educate themselves.
Ugandans should really be more mindful and take more caution
What advice would you give to anyone struggling with suicidal thoughts?
If you get suicidal thoughts, get a diagnosis. As much as going to the psychiatrist can be difficult before I was on the medication I was very dangerous, to myself and the people around me.
The medication helps and it makes it easier for you to have more control over yourself. People should get themselves psycho-evaluated and see where they lie because these things can be treated.
Don’t wait for it to get worse.
If you have suicidal thoughts, we don’t want to lose you.
There is a mental health toll free line you can call 0800212121
They work from 9am to 5pm every working day
Seek help and accept that you need help. Most people don’t want to accept that they need help.
Go to a psychiatrist and if you can’t afford it honestly I think you need to talk to someone. Select a friend (we need to know our friends) you know that is not a blabber mouth or is actually there for you.
Also God helps.
Being suicidal is never just about being selfish but there is something underneath all that that leads you to that place. It could be anything from abuse, to stress with school or even relationships.
When dealing with suicidal people, don’t tell them all the reasons they should not be. Instead give them a hug and be with them. Men struggle with their mental health as well. Men can be sexually abused as well. Do not invalidate their struggles because of your archaic views on masculinity.
Don’t be those people who are posting on socials about how people should reach out and how you are willing to support them when you have not put in the work. This is not a trend for you to follow.
And if you need help. Please reach out to someone whether it’s a friend or to us at the Buzzcut foundation, we are here to help. Accepting help does not take away from your amazingness as an individual.
Be sure to check out the podcast for more mental health content and to follow our series on suicide.
This post goes out to the people who we have lost to the fight against suicide.
And so many more…
MIREMBE GABRIELLE PEARL