WARNING. This blog contains potentially triggering information that deals with mental health issues involving depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, and suicide attempts. If you are someone you know is experiencing any of the previous mentioned mental health issues, LYF advises you to reach out to counseling, therapeutic, spiritual, and or psychiatric services.
I had originally begun working on this piece for last month’s Harvest theme. I was very excited to share my love for the Fall season. Here is how the blog began:
Growing up in Chicago, I loved everything about the Fall. From the change of the weather to the celebration of Hollow’s Eve, trick-o-treating, snuggling under blankets, drinking a cup of hot tea, and the overall slowdown of life after summer. Most of all, I loved the changing of the leaves. I loved seeing the world turn from green to brown, yellow, red, or dead. I know that dead isn’t a color, but the death of the leaves was something that came through as vividly for me as the colors of the leaves because death was the reason for the color. It wasn't just the visual beauty of the leaves that was pleasing to me in the Fall time. It was also the sound of the season! There was no better sound than the sound the wind made flying through the windows of the trees, tussling and tangling the leaves as the melodious wind chimes of nature. when the leaves finally fell to the ground, the wind would waltz the leaves across the ground in snaps, shakes, and sizzles. Nothing gave me more joy than trying to sing karaoke to the wind with my feet as I kicked through the leaves, eventually raking them into big piles that I could dive into, swimming on top of a leaf lake while the crackles of death hissed into my ear as the soundtrack for my favorite time of year.
This was very fun to write and I loved making wonderful poetry of my love for Fall. I wanted to write about ideas I had harvested over the years and how I used the seeds planted from earlier times to produce fruitful crops of healing in my life. Although I have done that and I have many examples of it taking place today, the truth is that I recently harvested a spoiled crop. A dead rotten crop that led me down a path of extreme suicidal ideation and a suicide attempt. Despite being in suicide recovery since 2015, for some reason on October 10, 2022, I decided that I still no longer wanted to live in this world. I said goodbye to my partner and made a ten-mile march into the desert with the desire never to return.
Meanwhile, I had school, homework assignments, a job interview, this blog, therapy, and other areas of my life that were becoming overdue and missing. When I decided to return home from a botched suicide attempt in the desert due to poor planning, it took me three days to get back to my regularly scheduled program of life. I sat at my computer staring at this overdue blog, wondering if I was really going to sit here and write some inauthentic bullshit about harvesting a crop. I mean, I am not trying to be too hard on myself. I have some great gems in my back pocket for self-help and personal growth that have been game changers for me, but none of it is relevant at this moment when it comes to the issue I am facing right now: I don’t want to be alive.
Ugh, doesn’t that just sound awful? Like, who doesn’t want to be alive in a world where there is cookie dough ice cream, World of Warcraft, and binge-watching Stargate SG-1? How could I want to ditch my 9 nieces who are growing into beautiful human beings, my 4.0 GPA, and my awesome day job as a flight attendant? Why would this self-published 800+ credit score yoga instructor, who has been in a loving relationship for 10 years with the man of her dreams and has a tribe surrounding her full of galactic love beyond measure want to die? I suppose I am not really here to answer those questions. I am just painting a wonderful picture for you that my life is golden. That life, for the most part, is good in the eyes of others and my issues are not circumstantial. And yet, despite this full life I have, I have tendencies toward crippling bouts of suicidal ideation, apeirophobia, depression, and anxiety.
During the several days that followed my attempt, I decided to look into less violent ways to die. In fact, the violence that I was inflicting upon myself was the main reason that I decided to discontinue my attempt. While I am suffering from unseen pain that I want to end, I thought about all the pain I would cause my loved ones when then found my desecrated body in the desert. I understood that my intentions to relieve my pain will cause great pain to others and that is not who I am. I couldn’t die knowing that I would be doing something irreparably harmful to the people who cared about me.
And now the November theme of forgiveness can make its way into this blog. I am not sure if I would be in a position to experience forgiveness after death but I can say with certainty that in the moments before I attempted to end my life, thinking about the impact that it would have on others felt like something unforgivable. Not in the sense that I would be seeking their forgiveness for what I had done to them but that I wouldn’t be able to forgive myself for the aftermath of violence I would set off in the lives of others.
I didn’t come to this conclusion on my own. This lesson was a seed I harvested some years ago while watching an episode of The Blacklist. In Season 3 Episode 16 entitled “Cape May” which aired on April 21, 2016, the character Raymond Reddington played by James Spader gave the following speech to a suicidal woman:
Raymond: Have you ever seen the aftermath of a suicide bombing? I have. June 29th, 2003. I was meeting two associates at the Marouche restaurant in Tel Aviv. As my car was pulling up, a 20-year-old Palestinian named Ghazi Safar entered the restaurant and detonated a vest wired with C-4.
The shock wave knocked me flat. Blew out my eardrums. I couldn't hear. The smoke... It was like being underwater. I went inside. A nightmare. Blood, parts of people. You could tell where Safar was standing when the vest blew. It was like a perfect circle of death. There was almost nothing left of the people closest to him. Seventeen dead, 46 injured. Blown to pieces. The closer they were to the bomber, the more horrific the effect.
That's every suicide. Every single one. An act of terror perpetrated against everyone who's ever known you. Everyone who's ever loved you. The people closest to you, the ones who cherish you are the ones who suffer the most pain, the most damage. Why would you do that? Why would you do that to people who love you?
Woman: It's my problem, not yours.
Raymond: You made it my problem the moment you walked into the ocean.
While watching that episode, I learned that by harming myself, I was setting off a suicide bomb in the lives of people in my life and that those who loved me the most might not survive the blast radius of my death. That moment on the show was a seed that was planted in me in 2016 that I finally got to reap this year in 2022. It was this speech that brought me out of the desert. It was that crop that has led me to typing these words to you right now.
Maybe reading this, you think you’ve figured out what my issue is and well, I hope that brings you some satisfaction. Your diagnosis, professional or not, is not the point of this blog. The point of me sharing this with you is just that – sharing this with you. I realized on that Monday night during my long walk home that I have been silent for years about my desire for my life to end. This realization led me to look more deeply into how our society treats and speaks about death. I have been knee deep in watching documentaries on youtube about suicide from the point of view of the survivors as well as those who have begun the process of Euthanasia.
There are several countries, and a few U.S. cities that actually offer euthanasia as an alternative to suicide for individuals who are experiencing in sufferable mental and physical health issues. These programs are there to prevent people from taking matters into their own hands through suicide. Our western society’s limited perceptions about death leave people like me and many others with no choice but to inhumanely take our lives in the most drastic ways, committing acts of severe violence on one’s self and thereby adding to the trauma of our loved ones.
Finding out that euthanasia programs exist had been a comfort to me during the several days that followed my incident and gave me hope that people who are suffering can find some relief from a living nightmare. All of my research has inspired me to be more forthright about how I am feeling about dying. I have been speaking with friends and family about my desire to end my existence in a way that I had never done before and while it has been uncomfortable for all parties involved, they are at least happy I am still here to talk about it.
As I sit with the idea of forgiving myself for what I was going to do, I am left in a deep place of stillness, grief, and contemplation. Much like when we are wronged by others, forgiveness within one’s self can be just as difficult. I am hurt, sad, angry, lost, and frustrated with myself. I find I have more easily found forgiveness for someone else in my predicament than I have for myself and that has been the eye opener. I am not allowing myself the grace and patience that I have for others. I thought I knew what forgiveness meant until it came to forgiving myself. That is some big girl panty shit and I am in a state of figuring all this out. I am learning forgiveness.
About the Author
Tracie Chavonne is a writer, yoga instructor, flight attendant, energy reader, and student at UNLV. She has self-published several books about her life’s journey at Crescent Sol. Currently, Tracie is majoring in English for Creative Writing and is currently a writer for the Love Yourself Foundation.