Bristol, Connecticut, U.S.A. — Susan is a lighthearted, social, 15-year-old freshmen at Bristol Central High School. But two years ago, in a bout of depression, she tried to kill herself.
Here is her story. Only her name has been changed to protect her privacy.
On the outside, Susan seemed like an average, happy seventh grader. But her life was not so easy.
Though she was extremely close to her mother, her father was not around. He divorced her mother shortly after Susan was born, and had little contact with Susan as she grew up. His absence left her feeling rejected and depressed.
While Susan was still small, her mother married again, to a man she never accepted as a father. He brought his own children into the household, and Susan felt lost and unimportant to the people she loved most – her mom and her older sister. Trying to escape the confusion, Susan began to think of suicide.
One day she finally tried it.
“I had been having a really bad day,” Susan said. “Everyone was ignoring me that day.”
She had been talking to her mother, but left the room when her stepfather interrupted.
“It was like all of the sudden he was more important than me. I tried to talk to my sister but she had to leave. So I had no one to talk to. No one would listen to me.”
Feeling neglected, Susan slinked off to the comfort of her bedroom, like any normal teenager. But after sizing up her view of the situation, she decided that today was the day.
“I had thought about it a lot of times before,” she said. “Every once and a while I was like, ‘I’m going to kill myself,’ jokingly, but I never thought I’d actually try it. But I thought, ‘If I was gone, it wouldn’t make a difference.’ The way they were acting was like they wouldn’t care if I was gone.”
Susan questioned every aspect of her life, even God.
“I was just like, ‘Why did He put me here because I don’t deserve to live because I have a horrible life.”
As tears rolled down her face, she inhaled all the medicine in her asthma inhaler and thought about her father.
“I was blaming him,” she said. “And I was blaming myself, but mostly him for the parts like that he was never there for me. I didn’t understand why he didn’t want to see me or anything. I thought it was my fault.”
As Susan got dizzier and dizzier, something came over her, and she went to tell her mother. It might just have been a natural subconscious feeling that she really wanted to live, but Susan thinks it might be something else.
“I think someone up there helped me or told me to go downstairs,” she said, pointing heavenward. “Like my (dead) grandmother forced me, pushed me downstairs to go tell my mom because I couldn’t even get up, I was so dizzy.”
Susan struggled to tell her mother what she had done – the drug made it hard to form words. When her mother understood, she broke down in tears. In hysterics, they rushed to the emergency room.
At Bristol Hospital, doctors, nurses and technicians watched Susan closely and gave her several tests to make sure she would recover. The hospital staff explained to her that what she had done was illegal, but all that didn’t register.
She wished at that moment that she really was dead.
“I just thought that I wish I was gone because now I have to go through all this,” she said. “I thought my mom was going to have to go to jail. I was just like, ‘Oh my god, now I really messed things up. I just made things worse.’”
Because trying to commit suicide is against the law, Susan was required to see a therapist.
” We didn’t go for a while because I felt stupid. I didn’t want to go to a councilor.”
But going to the therapist put a lot of things in perspective for Susan, and she realized that no matter what, killing herself was not the answer.
“She tried to put it in words I would understand,” Susan said. “It made me feel better.”
Today, Susan is on the cheerleading squad and is pursuing dreams of becoming a model. She no longer has to see the therapist.
Although she has moved on and tries to put the incident out of her mind, she still has regrets and insecurities.
“I wished it never would have happened,” Susan said. ”If people look at me weird and they don’t know me, then I always think about it. I think a lot of people think less of me if they know.”
Life may not be as perfect as she wishes, but she builds on her progress every day with positive thoughts and hope for the future.
“People can recover,” she said. “I’m not different anymore. I think about it a lot, but I’m not going to do it again.”
Amanda Lehmert is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International.