With World Suicide Prevention Day happening tomorrow, I thought I’d write a post that went into more detail about the suicidal experience I had at university as a belated follow-up to ‘University Mental Health Support: Is it Enough?‘.
While I was studying for my postgraduate degree, I had a suicidal episode during the summer of 2018. Which I touched upon in my post about “University Mental Health Support: Is it Enough?“. Thus, I thought I’d provide a little more context about what happened to me. Which in turn will hopefully allow people to understand how important mental health services are to students. That’s not to say that it’s not also really important to everyone as a whole.
There were a series of problems coming together that led to this breakdown, a breakdown so bad that it was 2003 when I last had an experience like this. I had a lot of things going wrong in my personal life, almost all of it outside of my control. However, the frustration and stress came from trying to deal with my university, especially as they were partly to blame for the situation I found myself in, was what pushed me right over the edge.
I was consumed by a single thought, the thought of how I was going to take my life (I won’t mention the method that consumed me or go into detail about what my plan was, in case it inspires someone to try it). A. Single. All. Consuming. Thought. I just sat there with this single thought going around and around in my head. I tried to pull the broken pieces back together, as I slipped deeper into despair, but it didn’t work.
I hadn’t had a suicidal episode like that since 2003 when I tried and failed to end my life. That was the last time I actually tried to take my life, even though I always have suicidal thoughts. This episode was as bad as that last attempt. But back then, I was at the mercy of all my mental health problems and my emotions running wild. So falling back into such a state shows just how broken I’d become.
I’ve always had intrusive thoughts about how it’d be better if I didn’t exist. I’ve always had existential and nihilistic thoughts (or simply, existential nihilism) and dreamed and imagined my death. But it’s rare, especially since 2003, for them to escalate past this everyday state, for me. I realised long ago that these thoughts and images will always be with me, and I’m ok with that. I don’t know any other way, it’s as much a part of me as my literal heart is.
The darkness inside my head is the norm for me. I’ve lived that way since primary school: I first become suicidal at 8 years of age (Suicidal Child #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek).
So when I realised I was entering a dangerously suicidal episode that I hadn’t been in since 2003, I reached out. I contacted my disability advisor by email, rather than my partner, because I don’t want to burden them.
I was lucky enough to have a disability advisor, due to my physical health, mental health, and dyslexia problems. By reaching out to my disability advisor, I was hoping they’d help me access long-term support.
I don’t know what I would have done instead if I hadn’t been allocated a disability advisor, which I used to distract myself until the feelings passed.
However, they didn’t offer any of the support I needed. They just signposted me to some online resources. I also got a few phone numbers I could call, and the details of my local A&E if it got too bad, which I could have got myself. In subsequent emails, they looked up some other details of support for me, like details for my Mental Health Trust and organisations like Mind. But none of that information was of use to me, because it wasn’t something I didn’t already know.
My Mental Health Trust had discharged me because “they are unable to treat me at this time”. Mind in my area didn’t offer anything that was useful for me, and I already know where my nearest two A&Es are because I’ve had a lot of hospital referrals due to my health problems.
They also told me about the counselling the university offers, but that was just short-term intervention stuff. 12 sessions maximum. Which wouldn’t be enough to help unpack all my problems, especially when a year’s worth of schema therapy didn’t help (My Experience Of Being In One-To-One Schema Therapy) or my attempts at group therapy (My Experience Of Being In Group Therapy: Part 1 and My Experience Of Being In Group Therapy: Part 2).
Not that any of this was my disability advisor’s fault. They’re just doing as the university policy dictates them to do. The problem is that these policies always seemed to be designed to offer the bare minimum. They also seem to be designed by people who haven’t had a suicidal episode themselves, or by someone who at least can understand how it feels to have one.
After writing University Mental Health Support: Is it Enough?, I realised just how poor my current university’s mental health support actually was. The University of Bristol seems to offer a lot better support than my university does. Although, that might be due to their mental health crisis, which caused 13 students to take their own lives in three years (Independent).
I eventually pulled through my suicidal episode after a couple of hours. But the experience had left its mark on me. I tried to avoid all unnecessary stress, so I avoided making a complaint about my university, which was partly at fault for how the situation came about in the first place. When I did finally reach a good enough place to take on my university, they weren’t interested at all, and there was nothing I could do about it. But that story is for another time. Should my readers be interested in reading about that, let me know.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of higher education, the stress it caused you, and suicide episodes in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
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63 thoughts on “My Suicidal Episode At University”
Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s only through this kind of dialogue that we’ll reduce stigma.
That’s what I’m hoping
I’m so sorry that the disability advisor’s help was next to nothing! They should be there if they aren’t going to provide true help – clearly a position that needs to be empowered more to really help people in need. I’m so glad you are here with us today – you are such a talented and inspiring individual.
Thank you kindly ?
I didn’t know World Suicide Prevention Day was tomorrow, so thanks for putting that on the radar. Maybe you can answer a long-running question I’ve had regarding suicide…when you’re having an episode do you feel fear about going through with it? Or are you emotions too distorted to be scared at that point?
I can’t speak for other people’s experience, but their was never any fear involved for me, I was in an state of utter despair that was trying to swallow me up
It is a shame mental health care cannot provide the care that people need in their time of need but I love that you share the experiences you have had and how you made it to where you are today; that is one of the best ways to educate fellow people and let others know not all mental health support is as good as it could be. 🙂
It really isn’t as good as it could be in far too many places
I’m so sorry that your advisor was no help- I had no idea that there were disability advisor’s like that! Thanks for sharing your experience, you are really helping out a lot of people by doing it, and helping by creating awareness.
Thanks for reading
That’s such a shame that when you needed them your advisor wasn’t more helpful. I can’t imagine what that must feel like, that desperation. If you’re willing to share, I’m very interested in learning more about your university’s reaction to you when approached about this. Thank you for sharing your experiences, I’m sure they will help others and increase of awareness of this.
The university at the time just followed an extremely basic procedure, offered me short term counselling after the fact which was of no use to me with dealing with longer term mental health issues, and when I tried to make a complaint about the university over a number of issues, they wouldn’t deal with it because the complaint had to be made within two months. They refused to accept that I first needed to recover from my suicidal episode before taking on a task that would be detrimental to my mental health, causing me to miss the 2 month window. I honestly wish I’d never gone to this university or started this cursed postgraduate. I certainly wouldn’t recommend the university to anyone else
Thanks for sharing your experience. We all get little disturbed once in a while. But I hope you stay healthy and happy for a long time.
So sorry you went through all that I’m so glad you got through, you sound very strong! I also had issues at uni and struggled with suicidal ideation. I reached out to a hotline and it was the worst experience I ever had. I still remember it to this day. It was my first year, I had just left home, went through an awful break up and completely lost. I can’t even remember what the guy on the line said but was rude, dismissive and sounded annoyed! I finally went to uni counselling and it helped me. Your disability advisor’s actions were disappointing. Even though it’s not their fault you would hope they could be more supportive. Good thing you are raising awareness about this issue, it will help others.
Sorry to hear about your experience at uni and your experience with calling a hotline. You’d hope for a better experience from calling such services which largely just need to distract you long enough for the suicidal feelings to pass
We are so sorry to hear that you went through this and we hope that you are feeling better now and have come out the other side!
Great blog post! Keep up the good work!
Thank you ☺️
Good post! You are a strong person. Pls be happy. You deserve to be happy.
So sorry that you had to experience this, with little to no help, It’s ridiculous. However I do thank you for sharing this because it sheds light on how much more work needs to be done to support the younger generation when life becomes too overwhelming
One can hope. Although you can be at university and struggling at any age
Thank you for sharing your experience. I pray that you will continue to feel well.
Thanks for sharing your experience. We definitely need more experienced support in universities since many students will be under pressure and might require help.
Indeed, it never hurts to invest more in the mental health of students
This is SO important to talk about. University is a time where we are under extreme stress. That is dangerous enough in terms of someone’s mental health and well-being, but when combined with a pre-existing condition like depression or anxiety, it can be completely overwhelming. Recognizing that, we need to tear down the stigma and ensure that those students who need help have access to it. Unfortunately, I can’t say that was the case when I was in school either. We have a long way to go…
Sorry to hear about your experience, and yeah, there’s still a long way to go with mental health support
This is a great post and I applaud you for not only sharing your own experience but to bringing light to mental health. Thank you for sharing.
Thank you for stopping by
Thanks for sharing your experience which I’m sure will help others to know they aren’t alone. There is a definite void in our heath care world wide when it comes to treating our mental health. I am glad you got through this, and are trying to develop a plan in the event you have another episode in the future.
Thanks for reading
Thank you for sharing your experience, which I’m sure will be beneficial for many (myself included) in knowing they’re not alone with this. I went through a suicidal episode during my first year of uni and have been having suicidal thoughts since I was about 15, but didn’t seek help because uni is meant to be ‘the best years of my life’ and at this point I wasn’t even a year in and I was at an incredibly low point in my life. I know my uni does appear to offer good mental health support, although how effective it is I don’t know – but universities definitely need to start offering a better mental health support system
Sorry to hear your had (having?) a rough time at uni with your mental health. I struggled with my undergraduate degree as well. You should take advantage of your university’s mental health services, that’s what they’re there for
More power to you Girl. It means a lot to know that there are people out there who are struggling with problems similar to yours and that you are not alone. Takes great guts to write and talk about suicidal thoughts of your own. Hats off to you xx
Great post. Especially where you explain how you’ve learnt to live with the dark thoughts. I think that’s so important. It’s what I’ve done. I’m not looking to make it all go away anymore, because I know that it won’t. Accepting that is what helped me to move on to where I am functioning fairly well. It’s something that is so important for people who have these thoughts understand.
Indeed. Often people only accept being “cured” as being a success, but really when it comes to mental health, it’s often just learning to live with it and improving your quality of life the best you can
The councilor can’t even do their job. It’s ridiculous. Mental health is something that should be known by now, and the fact that they can’t help is showing how they need to fix the problem even more. Sorry that you had to go through this
Universities really need to step up there mental health game
Thanks for sharing this. I never experienced issues like this when I was at university however I know it is a big problem. I really like that you have decided not to share your method of suicide so it doesn’t prompt someone else. Because there are a lot of sites that do talk about methods which are very unhelpful to anyone suffering. I hope you inspire people to come out the other side like you have.
It really didn’t seem like a good idea to be specific on the method I was fixated on, just in case
So happy you was able to get help for your last episode and see you are thriving now
You write with passion and it’s very inspiring.
Thank you for sharing your words
Thanks for reading
Thanks for sharing your experiences and spreading awareness to people.
Thank you for sharing your experience. It’s super important to spread awareness to people and we are lucky enough to be able to do it via social media nowadays!
xoxo Olivia | http://www.oliviaandbeauty.com/
Thanks for stopping by
It’s so tough throughout uni. I lived at home whilst doing university and also struggled with mental health and suicidal thoughts at that time. It’s horrific and i’m toying with sharing my story as well. I’m so glad you got through it. <3
I’m sorry to hear you went through something similar, but I’m glad you also got through it
That is so awful that they didn’t provide you with much support! I have been through a couple of suicidal episodes as well, just know that you can call your GP when your in a time of distress and they will provide you with more support! And I know it’s not very helpful because I felt the exact same that I didn’t want to burden anyone but if you are with a good partner they will help you as well. Thank you so much for sharing this, it is such an important topic! Xx
Sorry to hear you’ve been through something similar, I hope you’re not having those episodes anymore
Your journey brings awareness and knowledge to those in need thank you for sharing it. Being in a university is overwhelming it’s even worse when you going through a lot in your personal life. May God see through it all in your life ahead take care.
Although I don’t believe in god, I thank you for the sentiment
Thank you for talking so openly about your experience. When I was at uni I would have had no idea who to contact within the university to get help. It’s clear that students may need help with mental illness and universities should do their part to provide support when needed.
I wouldn’t have either if it wasn’t tmfir the fact I had a disability advisor assigned to me due to my issues. Some university’s don’t do a good job of informing people of such services
It’s awful that you had to go through that. Thankyou for being brave and sharing it with us. There just isn’t enough support out there for mental health at all xx
More needs to be done to protect our mental health, especially as life seems to becoming more rather than less stressful
It’s very brave of you to share your story! A lot more needs to be done with mental health support.
Indeed it does
I’m glad you kept up the positivity in your journey! It’s really hard to suppress the mental condition in such a tender era, I myself went through some ugly stuff in University and felt completely shattered. I’m glad I got support from my mother, she managed to keep me up. Thanks for sharing your experience.
I’m glad you had your mum for support through such difficult times
It takes courage to share an experience such as yours, so thank you for sharing it. Mental Health is such a relevant issue and we need more people acknowledging and addressing it.
Indeed we do