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What happens if you try to kill yourself and survive?

She got so depressed that she tried to kill herself. But when she laid down in front of a train to die, she lived.Trigger warning: Descriptions of death and dying, but no images.

People attempt suicide for many reasons. When we know someone is struggling, we try to tell them all the right things.

But what does the field of suicidology have to say about what reduces suicide?

When the World Health Organization and the Associated Press Managing Editors Association wanted to know how they should talk about newsworthy suicides, David Phillips, a suicidologist at the University of California told them this:


"Think of a suicide story as a kind of commercial. If you make the product attractive, people will want it. But if you say, 'By the way, when a person kills himself, let's say by shooting he looks terrible afterwards.' Or 'When a person poisons himself, he often fouls the bed sheets.' If you talk about the pain and the disfigurement then I thought that would make it less likely that people would be copying the suicide."

The research around negative public portrayals of suicide support this notion. When people talk about suicide in a positive light, people are more likely to attempt suicide. When people talk about suicide in a negative light, people are less like to attempt suicide.

Another suicidologist, Thomas Niederkrotenthaler, says mentioning helplines and telling stories of people who find another way out of their problems can help reduce suicidality in others.

So let's do all of those.

The CDC reports that for every completed suicide, there are 25 failed attempts.

Many of these people (487,700 of them in 2011) end up in the emergency room, seriously injured. Sometimes they recover, but often their bodies are permanently damaged — which is what happened to Helen Galsworthy.

"When I woke up in hospital, my mum was next to me and I said to her, 'I've lost my legs, haven't I?' And she said, 'Yes.'"

Helen lost her legs in her suicide attempt, but she's made a great recovery both emotionally and physically. That's wonderful, but surely it would have been better if she'd been able to get effective help before her attempt — we could have lost her forever.

But it could have been much worse.

Surviving an attempted poisoning with carbon monoxide, chemicals, or prescription medications can permanently damage the brain, heart, esophagus, stomach, intestines, or kidneys. Surviving a long fall can result in disfigurement, internal organ damage, shattered bones, or paralysis.

Surviving a shot from a firearm can result in brain damage or paralysis. Or worse, a person may survive only long enough to feel pain and regret, but not long enough to be saved.

Kevin Briggs is a retired California Highway Patrol officer whose beat included the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge, one of the most popular places in the world for suicide attempts.

In his 23 years of service, he responded to countless reports of suicidal citizens on the bridge. Here's what he has to say:

If someone you know is struggling, be a compassionate support for them and don't be afraid to show them what can happen if they try to take their lives.

If you are struggling, seek help. Suicide is messy and potentially permanent. Recovery can also be messy, but it too can be permanent.

Leah Menzies/TikTok

Leah Menzies had no idea her deceased mother was her boyfriend's kindergarten teacher.

When you start dating the love of your life, you want to share it with the people closest to you. Sadly, 18-year-old Leah Menzies couldn't do that. Her mother died when she was 7, so she would never have the chance to meet the young woman's boyfriend, Thomas McLeodd. But by a twist of fate, it turns out Thomas had already met Leah's mom when he was just 3 years old. Leah's mom was Thomas' kindergarten teacher.

The couple, who have been dating for seven months, made this realization during a visit to McCleodd's house. When Menzies went to meet his family for the first time, his mom (in true mom fashion) insisted on showing her a picture of him making a goofy face. When they brought out the picture, McLeodd recognized the face of his teacher as that of his girlfriend's mother.

Menzies posted about the realization moment on TikTok. "Me thinking my mum (who died when I was 7) will never meet my future boyfriend," she wrote on the video. The video shows her and McLeodd together, then flashes to the kindergarten class picture.

“He opens this album and then suddenly, he’s like, ‘Oh my God. Oh my God — over and over again,” Menzies told TODAY. “I couldn’t figure out why he was being so dramatic.”

Obviously, Menzies is taking great comfort in knowing that even though her mother is no longer here, they can still maintain a connection. I know how important it was for me to have my mom accept my partner, and there would definitely be something missing if she wasn't here to share in my joy. It's also really incredible to know that Menzies' mother had a hand in making McLeodd the person he is today, even if it was only a small part.

@speccylee

Found out through this photo in his photo album. A moment straight out of a movie 🥲

♬ iris - 🫶

“It’s incredible that that she knew him," Menzies said. "What gets me is that she was standing with my future boyfriend and she had no idea.”

Since he was only 3, McLeodd has no actual memory of Menzies' mother. But his own mother remembers her as “kind and really gentle.”

The TikTok has understandably gone viral and the comments are so sweet and positive.

"No the chills I got omggg."

"This is the cutest thing I have watched."

"It’s as if she remembered some significance about him and sent him to you. Love fate 😍✨"

In the caption of the video, she said that discovering the connection between her boyfriend and her mom was "straight out of a movie." And if you're into romantic comedies, you're definitely nodding along right now.

Menzies and McLeodd made a follow-up TikTok to address everyone's positive response to their initial video and it's just as sweet. The young couple sits together and addresses some of the questions they noticed pop up. People were confused that they kept saying McLeodd was in kindergarten but only 3 years old when he was in Menzies' mother's class. The couple is Australian and Menzies explained that it's the equivalent of American preschool.

They also clarified that although they went to high school together and kind of knew of the other's existence, they didn't really get to know each other until they started dating seven months ago. So no, they truly had no idea that her mother was his teacher. Menzies revealed that she "didn't actually know that my mum taught at kindergarten."

"I just knew she was a teacher," she explained.

She made him act out his reaction to seeing the photo, saying he was "speechless," and when she looked at the photo she started crying. McLeodd recognized her mother because of the pictures Menzies keeps in her room. Cue the "awws," because this is so cute, I'm kvelling.

A simple solution for all ages, really.

School should feel like a safe space. But after the tragic news of yet another mass shooting, many children are scared to death. As a parent or a teacher, it can be an arduous task helping young minds to unpack such unthinkable monstrosities. Especially when, in all honesty, the adults are also terrified.

Katelyn Campbell, a clinical psychologist in South Carolina, worked with elementary school children in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook shooting. She recently shared a simple idea that helped then, in hopes that it might help now.

The psychologist tweeted, “We had our kids draw pictures of scenery that made them feel calm—we then hung them up around the school—to make the ‘other kids who were scared’ have something calm to look at.”



“Kids, like adults, want to feel helpful when they feel helpless,” she continued, saying that drawing gave them something useful to do.

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Photo by Heather Mount on Unsplash

Actions speak far louder than words.

It never fails. After a tragic mass shooting, social media is filled with posts offering thoughts and prayers. Politicians give long-winded speeches on the chamber floor or at press conferences asking Americans to do the thing they’ve been repeatedly trained to do after tragedy: offer heartfelt thoughts and prayers. When no real solution or plan of action is put forth to stop these senseless incidents from occurring so frequently in a country that considers itself a world leader, one has to wonder when we will be honest with ourselves about that very intangible automatic phrase.

Comedian Anthony Jeselnik brilliantly summed up what "thoughts and prayers" truly mean. In a 1.5-minute clip, Jeselnik talks about victims' priorities being that of survival and not wondering if they’re trending at that moment. The crowd laughs as he mimics the actions of well-meaning social media users offering thoughts and prayers after another mass shooting. He goes on to explain how the act of performatively offering thoughts and prayers to victims and their families really pulls the focus onto the author of the social media post and away from the event. In the short clip he expertly expresses how being performative on social media doesn’t typically equate to action that will help victims or enact long-term change.

Of course, this isn’t to say that thoughts and prayers aren’t welcomed or shouldn’t be shared. According to Rabbi Jack Moline "prayer without action is just noise." In a world where mass shootings are so common that a video clip from 2015 is still relevant, it's clear that more than thoughts and prayers are needed. It's important to examine what you’re doing outside of offering thoughts and prayers on social media. In another several years, hopefully this video clip won’t be as relevant, but at this rate it’s hard to see it any differently.