I don’t know that anything in particular set her off . It’s just that, in general, she wanted to die.
That President’s Day is a blur in a lot of ways, but in others it’s marked indelibly on my mind. Parenting books simply don’t prepare you for calling 911 on your suicidal child.
We drove home from church that Monday afternoon after my two daughters and I had had a family picture taken for the church directory. And while I’d wanted to do nothing for four days except throw up from the anxiety of keeping a suicide watch on my 15-year-old daughter, what I was feeling surely couldn’t compare to her struggles.
My step-daughter had so kindly agreed to stay a third and final night with us. Her young family was waiting patiently for her to get back home, while we were just trying to get through another afternoon alive. Literally.
My older daughter was still not allowed to be alone. She was under strict orders to be with someone 24/7. It was the compromise she and her therapist had come to the Friday before, a last-ditch option to keep her from being hospitalized on a “3 day”, a 72-hour mental health hold.
(Photo Source: Google Images)
I had chosen to ignore the blaring voice in my head that had told me she should in fact go to the psych ward instead. I had chosen to take her home on Friday, even though I was more uncertain than certain that I could keep her safe.
For months I had watched depression, rage, and anxiety take the life from her eyes and replace it with a deep black void that defied definition. I had listened with fear and confusion as she told me that she hated to hear people tell her they loved her or supported her. She insisted this only made her feel more alone, more judged, more like a hate-filled failure who wanted to die.
I had bandaged her bloody arms, washed her blood-stained clothing, and tried to find any support or help from anyone I could.
It wasn’t working. I was afraid of her state of mind, afraid of what she would do.
I went up to her room late Monday afternoon, where her step-sister sat with her, and posed the questions I’d learned to ask on a semi-regular basis: Do you feel safe? Do you want to hurt yourself? Do you want to kill yourself?
“If you people would just leave me alone at all I would kill myself!” she screamed.
I’m sure there were a few other choice words thrown in, but the fact remained. Despite any and all interventions up to that point, despite a small respite of silly laughter only a couple of hours earlier, despite the availability of resources and people who loved and wanted to assist her, my daughter insisted that she wanted to die. And she was furious that we would not let her.
(Photo Source: Google Images)
She shrieked obscenities and hate in my direction that day, but more heartbreaking to me were the hate-filled accusations she hurled at her step-sister, who had known her for more than half her fifteen years. My step-daughter had loved and supported my children since meeting them, and she’d held them even more dearly since her father’s death less than two years earlier.
This fury was a sure sign that although my daughter was standing right in front of me, she was nowhere to be found.
The rage and darkness were palpable. Her threats and accusations hung in the air as the bottom dropped out of my world. This was the point of no return. At that moment, the tiniest shred of hope of keeping her safe within the walls of our home disappeared. I knew I had to call 911.
I decided that I would make a quick to call her dad first, as a courtesy. If the roles were reversed, I’d certainly want him to call me and let me know he was going to have an ambulance come for our daughter. It seemed the right thing to do.
“No, don’t do that. She’ll be okay. Just give her a chance to calm down,” he said. No matter how I’d tried, I had not seemed to be able to make him comprehend how she had been deteriorating the past months. She’d held herself together when she was with him, apparently, so to try to describe her increasing rages and despair to him had been a futile effort.
“She is not calming down. She’s getting worse as the day goes on. She has said outright that she wants us to leave her alone so that she can kill herself,” I insisted.
“Well, then I’ll come over and talk to her,” he replied, seemingly confident that I was mistaken in my assessment of the situation.
Not really knowing what to think, do, or feel anymore, frightened and too worn down on every side to say anything else, I responded with a resigned sigh. “Okay. Hurry.”
© Monica Simpson and Help To Hope, 2013