In Hope, Suicide

“If things are going to keep being this way, I just…I don’t know if I can…”

Over six months ago, he ended up in the hospital, and he’s been there since. His health has been dripping out of him one day at a time, and no one had any answers for him. He was fine one day, and he was bedridden the next. He was planning a meaningful future for himself, and then he was planning how to stay sane today.

I could hear the life exhale out of him with every word he spoke. He was exhausted.

Every day he was alive meant pain. It meant undelivered promises from doctors. It meant trying to drown the silence in his fluorescent hospital cubicle. It meant loneliness that clawed at his soul. He wanted someone to be with him in this journey, but he didn’t have the patience or the stamina to endure it himself. He didn’t know what to do or who to turn to. It all started to add up, and suicide sounded like a better answer than living a life full of pain and void of hope.

And to be honest, it made sense.
depressed man
“My life feels so overwhelming…I just want to give up…”

She was brilliant. You could see the light in her eyes. She was someone who got it. But she was struggling. She felt like it was never enough because she was taught perfection is the standard. Up against the hardest series of exams she’d yet to take, fear of failure overwhelmed her, so she tried to run. She let her homework pile up, her projects go incomplete, her studies go unlearned. The more she ran from it, the more overwhelming it became. Waves of shame and fear flooded her life, and she felt paralyzed. Getting out of bed, facing her day, sitting through her classes—it all felt more than she could handle. She was ignoring her friends, brushing off her parents, and locking herself in her room. That felt like the only place she could keep the avalanche of worry out, but every day it knocked harder. She was stuck in a downward spiral, and with the exam looming only weeks away, she didn’t know if she could make it.

She couldn’t imagine what life would be like when she went to the exams and didn’t know any of the answers. She would blush, she would cry—she couldn’t do it. She would fail, and everything she’d worked for over the past twelve years would leak through her fingertips like an evaporated dream. Everything she’d planned for her future was riding on this success, and she was days away from losing it all. She didn’t want to face it. She wanted out.

As I listened to her and her story, I realized everything she said and felt made sense.

depressed woman
Working at HeartSupport, I’ve heard story after story of people contemplating suicide. Relationships ending, futures fading, addictions spiraling, depression blooming—there are a million different stories, and while they all sound different, they all have two things in common: the first is to that person, at that moment, suicide makes sense.

If you put yourself in their shoes, if you feel the overwhelm of emotion, if you feel the numbness of loneliness, if you feel the fear of their everyday existence, if you really get it, it all makes sense. If their life today is the way their life is always going to be, I’d be thinking the same thing too.

If you’re in that place today, I want you to know one thing for sure: you’re not crazy. Life, in the place you’re at, is the worst it’s ever been. It feels like too much, and it sucks every day you’re in it. You’re not crazy for dreaming of ways to end the pain.

The second thing that every suicide story has in common is that it starts with a conditional statement.(If ___, then ___.)

“If things stay the way they are today…”
“If I have to try this whole thing again…”
“If I’m going to fail anyways…”
“If I’m never going to be loved…”
“If I’m always going to feel this lonely, this sad, this empty, this hopeless…”
“If my life is always going to be this painful…”
Then there’s no point in living anymore.

Suicide doesn’t start as the surefire strategy you’re going to employ when one thing went bad. It starts with a conditional statement, a thought that it’s an option if things stay this bad. And it ends when someone concludes that statement is the truth, and they decide to follow through.

But…

What if that’s not the way things are always going to be?
What if one day soon all the pain you’re feeling will have a purpose?
What if a year from now, two years from now, you’re at the best place you’ve ever been?
What if you stick this through and your dreams come to life?
What if things just don’t always stay this bad?

From what I’ve experienced, everyone who allows life the chance to get better finds that it does.

The secret to sticking it out has to do with your focus. When you walk outside, looking up at the sky, it feels like every day there’s a dark cloud thundering above you. Every day is a storm. And there’s no promise of it ever leaving. It’s been here for so long—it feels like maybe this is all there is and all there’ll ever be.

blue skiesBut what you’ve forgotten is that behind the biggest cloud, the wildest storm, the darkest day is a blue sky.

For a season, you might be in the middle of this storm, but it will pass. Zoom out from your life, see the blue skies, and remember that it’s coming. Set your focus on the clear days to come. Because those days are coming…to you. And you deserve to see it.

[clickToTweet tweet=”What you’ve forgotten is that behind the wildest storm and the darkest day is a blue sky.” quote=”What you’ve forgotten is that behind the wildest storm and the darkest day is a blue sky.”]

You can make it to better weather. You can see hope become a reality. You’ll see the clouds fade and the sun break through. You’ll feel warm light on your skin again. You’ll remember how to smile, how to laugh, how to have joy. Your time is coming. It’s just on the other end of this storm. You can make it.

Forecast says there’s clear skies ahead.

Hold fast.

Nate Hilpert
Project Manager for @heartsupport Called to help others live a freer, fuller life
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  • Lauralee

    This was very encouraging. Thanks for sharing.

    • Nate Hilpert

      🙂

  • njgrenfell

    Great article.
    I guess the thing I struggle with most at the moment is purpose. I mean what’s the point in living for another 40-50 years of life if your just going to die anyway? Surely it’s better to save the pain and cut it short. Sure it will hurt those around you, but that’s going to happen eventually when you die. The only thing that seems to keep me sane is helping others, but even that seems like a pointless task when nothing seems to ever change. There will always be pain and suffering in this world and all we can do is try and minimise it. Everyone around us will eventually die, regardless of the impact we make in their lives.
    I’m just so tired of waiting for these ‘grey clouds’ to clear and the ‘sun to break through’, to be filled with life and purpose, not just feel like I’m prolonging death.
    Again, great article Nate, I’m hanging on but these questions still plague me.
    Thanks
    Nathanael

    • Nate Hilpert

      njgrenfell,

      Great question. You drilled to the very core: “What’s the purpose of life?” Even more important, “What’s the purpose of MY life?” You feel like the end result of all we do is death, and death causes pain no matter when it happens, so why fight through all the pain and hardship in your life for the next 40-50 years if it all ends in the same place?

      Great question, great honesty.

      So, I’ll ask you those very questions:

      What IS the purpose of life?

      More importantly…

      What is the purpose of YOUR life?

      And I know the gut-instinct is to say, “I don’t know.” Which is fine! But, if you HAD to give me a different answer…what would it be?

      -Nate

      • njgrenfell

        Been thinking very hard and still not really sure what I believe or think but I’ll give it a go.
        I guess think the meaning of our existence is to love God and to love one another. Yet this seems so utterly pointless at times. How do you love someone who feels so far away? How do you love someone you’ve never had a conversation with? How do you love someone who you’ve never actually felt loved by? Why would God even create humans who suffer, cause suffering and are forced to watch helplessly while others suffer? Surely it would be kinder that they never existed in the first place. It would be like having a child and then torturing and killing them, saying it all make sense in the end. I don’t know what to think any more…
        Loving people seems like its own form of suffering when the world just continues to **** in their face and nothing you say or do ever seems to change that. The more you care about people, the bigger the potential for hurt when they go through unbearable suffering.
        I’m so sick of waiting for things to get better or to end, and to be honest I’m not sure I believe things can get better as a change of perception won’t make a imperfect world perfect. I feel stuck between dying, taking the easy way out and passing that pain onto those around me, and sticking around, enduring the pain and suffering only to die and still pass on that pain and suffering.
        It doesn’t feel like anything I could possibly do in my life could be meaningful in the end. I could save a few lives, who would just go on to live on in pain until they died anyway. Surely it would better if we all just dead, it would end pain and suffering, and it’s going happen at some point anyway. Yet for some reason, if someone I know was thinking of taking their life, I would still try and talk them out of it. Why would I still try and convince someone that life can get better when I don’t believe it and seems to make no difference in the end? Maybe because things don’t have to make sense for us to do them. Maybe because deep down, I’m still hoping, praying that things can get better. That one day I will be filled with purpose and hope.
        Sorry for the long, un-organised rant. I was just typing as thinks came to me.
        Thanks for the reply, not sure I really answered the questions but it at least got me to really think about it and talk about a lot of stuff I had been holding down.
        -Nathanael

        • Nate Hilpert

          njgrenfell,

          Wow–yeah, seems like if your life is only pain and suffering, and you believe that existence in its essence is only pain and suffering, then why would we continue? I mean, I’m with you there, lol…if all my life was horrific and excruciating pain, I’d have a hard time finding purpose there too, lol…it sounds to me that you’re describing something more akin to what I imagine hell is like than what I experience in life…

          So that brings me to the question–what’s going on in your world that’s causing you so much pain?

          • njgrenfell

            That’s the thing, there really isn’t anything that should be causing me tremendous pain in my life, and yet I still feel so empty and void of happiness. So why do I feel like this? What kind of freak does that make me?
            That said I guess there are a lot of things I fear in life. I fear failure for one, seeing looks of disappointment from those I love as I continue to fail my way through school, as I fail to overcome self-harm and as I fail to pull myself together.
            I’m afraid for my brother whose severely asthmatic and is smoker and keeps ending up in hospital, each time worse and worse. I’m afraid next time will be the last and nothing I have said or can say makes any difference. The thought of losing him scares me so much and I know it is only a matter of time.
            I feel completely incapable of doing anything right and it doesn’t matter what I do things will always go wrong, because we live in an evil and violent world. I have a step-sister who was raped at the age of 15, what the hell did she do to deserve that? She is now struggling to raise a kid at such a young age while the guy who did it is off living his life. What kind of world is this? Why would anyone want to live in this world full of pain, disease, murder, rape, hunger, persecution etc. ?
            Sorry for sounding so negative about everything, but I feel like I need to bring it up instead of hiding it if there is any chance of dealing with it.
            Thanks for taking the time to keep responding to me, it’s nice to have some one to talk to without the judgement.
            -Nathanael

          • Nate Hilpert

            Dude,
            Sounds like you’ve got more on your shoulders than you really let yourself recognize…
            The daily fear of your brother’s fading health…
            The injustice and horror perpetrated on your sister…
            And your overwhelming sense of inadequacy and hopelessness…
            I mean, dude, that’s a lot to be carrying around every day.
            If you really think about it, it’s like, you have all of these desires to be successful at school, to be free from self-harm, to be at peace instead of in anxiety and anger, yet it feels like no matter how hard you try, you’re always coming up short. It’s like you’re trying to dunk a basketball on a 15 foot rim…it feels IMPOSSIBLE. Because even when you throw your entire weight at this stuff, it feels like you don’t even make a dent in it…or you do, but then you crash back down. All the effort you put towards bettering your life feels useless, so YOU feel HOPELESS. And if it was just about not succeeding, it would be one thing…but then to throw on top of it the weight of other people’s expectations and their disappointment you feel burning into your back like a thousand hot pairs of eyes…I mean that’s a whole nother level of stress. Toss into the equation the feeling of powerlessness and helplessness you have with your brother and sister’s situations, and it just feels like there’s nothing you can do to fix the things that are broken in your life. And when you look around at the hurt and problems of this world, it feels the same way…you feel like no matter how hard you try, you can’t change anything. And because everything right now feels like it’s painful, it makes sense why you would feel like the world is nothing but pain, and there’s nothing you can do about it. And friend, if I felt the same way, I would be thinking the same things and coming to the same conclusions.

          • njgrenfell

            Wow, that’s a pretty accurate description of how I feel.
            Do you mind if ask you some of the exact questions you asked me? I’m just curious of your perspective on life.
            So, what do you think the purpose of our lives are and what do you think the purpose of your life in particular is?
            It’s fine if you don’t want to answer but I’m just looking for another perspective to existence in general.
            Thanks
            -Nathanael

          • Nate Hilpert

            Purpose of life: to have a meaningful life. And personally, I believe in God, so I believe a more specific addendum of “a meaningful life” is to have a growing relationship with God and to serve Him.

            Purpose of my life: love my wife, love my God, love my family, and love others; also, to fully activate my potential (instead of just imagining I could do things, actually going out and doing them) and help others do the same.

            Here’s an observation I have about this conversation and how it relates to your story:

            BECAUSE you feel powerless and helpless in the face of pain in your life, it feels like your life has no meaning outside of receiving pain. And if your life has no meaning, then it makes your life feel purposeless. And if your life feels purposeless, it makes sense why you would consider suicide.

            BUT if you were to find purpose and meaning in your life, those feelings would evaporate, and you’d feel motivated to live and live life to the fullest.

          • njgrenfell

            I would say that is a fair assessment of my situation. I guess I also believe in God but struggle to understand so many things about him and therefore struggle to accept him. I keep praying and praying for answers but all I’m left with is confusion. Sometimes it feels like I work out the answer to one question, only to have it open up a thousand other questions.
            I think I want to agree with you on what the purpose of life is but I struggle to believe it. To be honest I don’t know what I believe any more.

          • Nate Hilpert

            Yeah, man…it’s been so long since life has had any meaning for you that again, it’s hard to imagine it ever could. And that’s totally okay, dude.

            Sounds like you’ve got questions about God that just lead to more questions about God and you wonder if you’ll ever reach any concrete place where you can fully place your trust in Him.

          • njgrenfell

            Hey Nate,
            Haven’t spoken to you in a while so I thought I would give you an update on how I’m doing.
            While I still do have suicidal thoughts occasionally and have thoughts of self harm very often, they are getting less frequent and I’m finding ways to deal with them. I’m feeling a bit more positive about life in general. Got no idea where my life is going, but I’m willing to stick around to explore where life will take me. And actually had some moments over the last month that I’ve really enjoyed and actually felt happy in. Some great conversations with friends and seeing August Burns Red with Memphis May Fire in Lincoln a few weeks ago.
            I actually feel like my faith is regrowing as well. Been watching Ben Sledge’s explore God videos and found them really helpful. I’ve realised faith isn’t about knowing all the answers or understanding life, it’s trusting that God loves you, He has a plan for you and that everything is ok in the end.
            I also wanted to say thank you again, for listening and helping me to work through my problems. Every conversation I’ve had with you has always been supportive and every blog of yours I’ve read has been incredibly helpful.
            So once again thank you, and everyone else at Heartsupport.
            -Nathanael

      • Aristotle

        My purpose was to teach, to get married, etc. All of these things are now remote. So what’s the purpose of going on? Weigh the odds. If the very things you want in life have a remote chance of coming to fruition, play the odds. WHAT’s THE POINT!?

  • Insidious Sid

    I can’t kill me. I’m already dead.

  • Christopher Baron

    From what I’ve experienced, everyone who allows life the chance to get better finds that it does.

  • also

    The question this touches on is whether the person feels they are adding to this world and others around him, or not. If the latter, if the person thinks he’s creating pain and negatives for others, and you think it’s not recoverable, that’s when choice to depart make sense.

  • Aristotle

    Sorry, if suicide makes sense, then it should be done. Here’s a story. Four years ago, I was depressed, claimed I would kill myself and was put on a 72 hour hold. Now, after the hold, I snapped out of my funk and was fine. I never thought about that night again. Fast forward, this 72 hold comes up on FBI background checks now. The result: I cannot find a job as a teacher, my lifelong goal. So now what? I have 100 dollars to my name, bills piling up…what am I to do? Accept the fact that I’m a 29 year old, underemployed man, who will be making 10-11 bucks an hour for the indefinite future? My degree has been rendered useless as it is most often associated with teaching positions. Oh, but wait! I should be happy right? Because I, uh, like, still get to breath??? Unreal. I’m done. This is bullshit. You people telling us that life is worth it, at least have a base, a foundation, some segment, of life that is working for you, something you find enjoyable, something that is truly wonderful. There are some people, maybe if but a few, who really lack in all departments of life. And all you can say to us is wait, just hold on. WAIT FOR WHAT!!!!!! My record cannot be fixed. My shitty resume, which gets worse with each passing year of no career-track employment, continues to saddle me down further!!!! Wait for what? A relationship? Like some woman is going to date down to my meager level. I have nothing. That’s what you people don’t get. If you have nothing at all. No friends. No family. No blossoming relationships. No career options. THERE IS NOTHING THAT CAN BE DONE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Nate Hilpert

      Yeah, man. When literally every avenue of hope, happiness, positivity, ANYTHING is closed off, and you’re literally trapped in this room feeling nothing but worthlessness…it’s like yeah, fuck it. What’s the point? If all that’s left for me in life is this shit and worse, then why would I want to stick around for it?

      I feel that. I used to play 20 hours of video games a day…wake up at 6am, play till 2 am, and watch porn throughout to forget I was wasting my life. I had no job, no friends who cared about me, no hope except for completing the next quest on my alternate reality. I felt disgusted with myself and just kept burrowing deeper and deeper into my addictions because they helped me forget for a while how useless and worthless I felt. Every night though, when I went to bed, all of those horrible emotions slammed back down on me. I asked myself that same question…if life is just going to keep being like this, what’s the point?

      And in your situation, where your career is blocked from you, you’re stuck at a job you hate, with no money, no friends, and nothing to look forward to, it makes sense for you to feel the way you do.

      But what I found in a similar (not the same, but similar) situation was that I had to choose in to a better life. And that’s a way oversimplified version of saying…fight for something better. Every day. I had to choose to believe that there were better things out there for me. That I could find them, and that I could get to them. That I could do it. And then go out there and fucking do it.

      Now, I know right now, that as I transition to giving you advice, you could make a million reasons to not take it. You could just brush me off and say this guy has no fucking clue. You could choose to stay focused on all of the shit in your life that’s gone wrong and all of the ways that it’ll never go right. And again, you’d be justified in doing so. I remember not giving a fuck about anything and just wanting things to either end or get magically better for the longest time. But the reason you wrote on here dude is because there’s a part of you that wants to die, but there’s also a part of you that wants to live…and the fact that you took the time to reach out means the greater part of you wants to live. So, if that’s the case, you’re presented with this choice: keep doing, keep thinking, keep saying the things you’ve been doing, thinking, and saying, and keep being fucking miserable. OR…you can be vulnerable, and take some advice, and do something different, and put yourself on a path to a life you actually want to live. I’m not saying any of this because I think I’m better than you or know better than you or whatever…fuck that bullshit. I’m saying this because I love you. Because I care about you. Because I know this anger, the intelligence you have, the fight you have in you…I know those things can be channeled into a PURPOSE…totally unique for you…I’m saying this because I know you have what it takes. I KNOW things can get better for you. And I know that you have the fight in you to make the choices that you need to make to make these things happen. I’m saying this because YOU…fucking…MATTER. So, I’m going to make a few suggestions, and I challenge you to read them with an open mind and take whatever makes sense for you and your life.

      1) FIND SOMETHING YOU WANT…let’s take teaching…AWESOME. I dig you want to teach. I think that’s awesome. I used to tutor for a few years, and it’s a SUPER fulfilling job and super needed as well. Here’s what you see right now: I can’t get a job at a school because of my records, therefore I can’t be a teacher in the public school education system, therefore I can’t teach. Well, what if teaching at a public school is just the CONTEXT of something you want? What if the real thing you want is to help other people learn? What if you could apply that PURPOSE to a different CONTEXT and find the fulfillment you’re looking for? For instance, tutoring the same subjects you’d teach in school…or teaching someone how to play an instrument…or being a gaming coach…or teaching people how to get into college (because you did that successfully)…doesn’t really matter what you teach someone, just matters that you’re teaching them something, and you’re adding value to their lives by helping them learn something and find the confidence in themselves that they can do it. I get that you could come up with a bajillion excuses here…I just don’t care about your excuses…in order to get to where you want, you’ve got to change your mental power from generating excuses, to generating a way….FIND A WAY to make it happen, bro. You’re smart enough. You CAN. Stop letting the power of your mind be wasted on finding ways that you can’t. Ask yourself: How can I MAKE this work? Instead of asking yourself, why will that fail? One proposition I’d have: start tutoring. Start by asking people you know: hey, I’m starting up a tutoring business, and I’m going to be tutoring these subjects, I’ll be charging $25/hour, and I was wondering if you knew one person I might be able to contact about tutoring them? Or start by looking up tutoring centers around where you live and see if you can go and get hired with them. Or ask them for advice for people who are looking to freelance tutor. Or just google “____ tutor in ___ city” and figure out who’s doing it now, reach out to them, and ask them for advice on how to get started. Truth is, as many excuses as you can make to NOT do this, there are equally as many avenues that you COULD make it happen. You just have to choose TO make it happen.

      2) START WITH A SINGLE STEP…in the end, after you find something you want, it boils down to DOING SOMETHING…you have to actually get up, get out, and do something to make it happen. If tutoring is your thing (don’t care if it is or isn’t…you figure out what you want), just take the first step. Ask one person to tutor them. Ask one tutoring center for a job. Ask one tutor for advice. Do ONE THING…make it happen! The only way you’er going to change your life to become what you want it to be is by taking one step after another in the right direction. That’s why #1 is find out which direction you want to head, and #2 is fucking head that way.

      I know this is super simple advice, but the truth is, that’s all you need. You’re not fucked beyond repair dude. You just have the current direction you were trying to head blocked off. So you gotta pick somewhere else to go and just fucking head there. You’re smart enough to make it happen (obviously, because you’ve come up with a ton of brilliant logical excuses), you’re capable enough to achieve whatever you set out to do (obviously, because you’ve got a degree), you just have to choose into this.

      Life is not over for you. Choose a different path, and head that way. Better is closer than you think. And the crazy thing is that even in the process of finding better, as long as you’re moving in that direction, you’re going to feel EONS better than the way you feel when you’re just stuck.

      So start now, man. Get up, get out. You’ve got this.

      -Nate

  • ✖️Gamefreak✖️

    Ever since you reached out to me and my friends as we were walking past after looking at motionless in white and you talked with us and listened to our stories…to each other we’re all broken teenagers but together we fit and were not so broken anymore…the one girl with me that I think really needed what you said to us was my friend Starla, I have been with her since last year in September and I am stuck by her side. I have seen this girl with self harm day to day and I always wanted to try and help, I’ve seen her in the hospital and I spent anytime after school with her that I could because I knew what she was going through and I needed to be there with here so she could be happy. I brought her food,stuffed animals,books literally anything I even laid with her in the hospital bed and we just kinda talked and I’d be there for a good 9 hours even past visiting hours because the nurses understanded. And the whole reason she was in the hospital? Was she attempted suicide. Then called 911 because she realized she couldn’t do that to the people who care about her. If I lost her I’d be completely besides myself in life because I don’t have many friends. I’m just so happy for you guys stopping us like thank you from the bottom of my heart you helped all four of us and I know that we would all thank you individually but we don’t always get that chance…hope to see you next warped tour in Mansfeild, MA – Lauren Kimball

  • Phil Harper

    I won’t do anything until all the kids are grown and out of the house. But there is no point to my life. I work a telecommute job 40-50 hours a week. My spouse works until 9 at night. I have no interaction with other people except my 4 kids. I have kid related activities to get them too every night and most of every weekend. Each kid gets 1 extracurricular activity. I also help my elderly mother.There is absolutely no one to help me with any of this. There is not a spare minute for hobbies or interests. There is no money for real vacations. No time for me to be away or spend time with the few friends I used to have. I am completely alone. Because i have been stepping in as a parent for other people’s kids, by the time my kids are all grown I will have been doing this for over 30 years. I won’t be able to retire until I am 80. I thought life might be interesting but i was wrong, it is endless drudgery. Please show me where to find hope.