MIAMI – Every year, more than 1 million adults report making a suicide attempt, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Close to 50,000 succeed.
After having depression for decades, a woman who asked to be known as Liz was feeling hopeless.
"I had no desire to live," Liz said. "I would go to work and put on a smile, and people didn't know I was dying. I was literally dying inside."
She first contemplated suicide at the age of 12. By 2012, she set in motion what she thought was the perfect plan.
"I was on medication for anxiety," Liz said. "I took 50 and I thought, 'This is going to do it.'"
Liz believed she was doing her loved ones a favor.
"I hated for my children to see me that way," Liz said. "I thought they would be better off without me. I really did."
Mental health specialist Claudia Vicencio said that thought pattern is common among people who decide to take their own lives.
"What we've found is that people, even people who have habitual thoughts of suicide, sometimes they're making suicide plans, it's not so much that they want to die, they don't want to keep living in the life that they're in," Vicencio said.
Vicencio said many survivors struggled with a sense of anger and frustration over having failed, which is why professional intervention is vital.
"They can garner new resources, marshal new ways of approaching their problems," Vicencio said. "That's what we're looking for as a clinician: How do I help you discover what a life worth living looks like and find the tools to build that life?"
Two days after her attempt, Liz woke up alone on the floor of her home.
"I was surprised, and once I came around fully, I thought, 'There must be a reason,'" Liz said.
Liz got the help she needed to overcome her suicidal thoughts. She now spends time helping others in therapy with an expanded appreciation for the life she's been given.
"I have an amazing 2-year-old granddaughter now, and I think I would have missed this if I had been successful," Liz said. "All the things that are good that have happened now, I think I would have missed this if I was successful."
A study out of Harvard shows that 70% of people who survive a suicide attempt make no further attempts, although many still talk about having "bad days." Liz said when she has bad days, she now has the psychological tools to shift her thought patterns and move forward.
Below is a list of some suicide prevention resources:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-8255, www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Crisis Suicide Intervention in Broward/Switchboard of Miami: Dial 211 to reach either
- Henderson Behavior Health: 954-463-0911
- Teen Hotlines in Broward: 954-567-8336; 954-390-0485
- Phone a Friend (for kids up to the age of 13): 954-390-0486
- First Call for Seniors: 954-537-0211
- Teen Talk Line Miami-Dade: 305-377-8255
- Children and Youth Behavioral Hotline: 305-358-4357