Suicide and the Borderline
Three borderlines share why they have tried to commit suicide. Suicide is a very real issue for many borderlines. Suicide is, more often than not, a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It is a testament to the pain that borderlines are suffering, however.
Firstly, not every person diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is or will become suidical. That said, however, great numbers of those who are diagnosed with BPD do struggle with suicidal feelings. Many attempt suicide multiple times. Sadly, some lose their lives to this very painful disorder.
There are many reasons behind why some borderlines are so suicidal. Just as there are many reasons behind many borderlines "acting out attempts", if you will, with little to no desire to die because they want to be rescued from their pain.
For some borderlines "acting out" suicide attempts -- attempting in ways that cannot be fatal or attempting suicide with the hope of being rescued in time to live are very frequent occurrences. This is not often just about wanting attention. It is about NEEDING attention. Granted it is not the best way to go about trying to get the attention that one needs but many borderlines cannot interpret care even when it is given to them. For some, no matter what you do, they will see you as not caring about them. The sad truth about borderlines who "act out" by attempting suicide is that some succeed when they clearly only wanted to be helped, or rescued and certainly did not want to die.
I think such drastic behaviour speaks poignantly to the pain that borderlines experience
In my own journey through BPD, I was not suicidal. I did, several time during my recovery, however, feel a level of pain and sadness that left me feeling what I think it feels like to feel suicidal. However, I did not, at any point, ever make any plan or even think about killing myself. I have never, no matter what, lost my hope. I credit my spirituality and my faith with this. I feel blessed to have been able to hold onto my hope even through the deepest of despair.
Since I am not a professional and I can't speak to this aspect of BPD from my own past experience I am going to include here some comments from some borderlines who know, all too well, the reality of suicidality.
I asked some borderlines the following questions:
1)Have you tried to kill yourself? How many times?2)Do you know why?
1) "YES. ABOUT FIVE THAT I CAN THINK OF."
2)"MANY REASONS. HATED MYSELF(PRETTY MUCH STILL DO). WAS UNHAPPY WITH EVENTS GOING ON IN MY LIFE. FELT THAT PEOPLE WOULD BE MUCH BETTER OFF WITHOUT ME(FELT LIKE I'VE CAUSED EVERYONE ENOUGH PAIN). NO HOPE THAT I'LL EVER GET BETTER,ETC.ETC."
1)"I have never actually tried to kill myself -- I'm too afraid of going to Hell. The closest I came to suicide is driving around without my seat belt on and praying that a semi would hit me and obliterate me."
2)"My automatic reaction to any upset is to blow my head off (not that I have a gun or even easy access to one)."
1)"I had 3 episodes where I started the process of attempting suicide but stopped short of actually going through with it -- the first when I was 16 or 17, with pills; the second & third in my early 20's, with a gas oven. I am now 42 years old, and this past June I made a fourth attempt that I actually went through all the way, but was saved by the intervention of a neighbor and the maintenance manager of my apartment building -- that was an OD on a combination of street drugs, prescriptions & alcohol."
2)"Extreme depression and hopelessness, feeling my life had no purpose or meaning & that I was ignored/unloved."
1)"I've od'd 3 times. Since age 13 I was obsessed w/the act of suicide for most of my life. I've thought of all sorts of ways to end my life. When I used to take double or so of my antipsychotic med, my T said it was a mini-suicidal gesture. after the boyfriend left me, when I worked in a hospital, I used to go up to the roof during my lunch hour and wish I could jump over the side. But it was so frightening to look out over such a height. However, even tho I was obsessed w/suicide for so long, I never took the step until 1985, when I was 32. 6 months after my stepfather died, trying desperately to handle my own grief, trying to be there for my mother, who turned away from me in her grief, living in a horrible roommate situation I call "Hell House", so hungry to be held and comforted by a man (no one for 5 years at this time) that I asked one of the male roommates to sleep w/me and I had anonymous sex w/him just to be held afterward. I tried a date, went to bed immediately w/the guy and then received a note that "you're a terrific person -- I don't want to see you again, but you're a terrific person." I didn't understand, and, overwhelmed w/pain and rejection, I took pills. I did it as I took a bus ride to my T for our session. I also called in to work to say that I was OD'ing and wouldn't be able to work as I'd either be in a hospital or be dead. when I got to my T, I could see he was disappointed in me for "breaking my word." he sent me, in a cab, to a hospital. I stayed overnight but, because I had no insurance, I went home the next day. I felt very guilty, and my T was angry w/me. at the same time, I was angry that I was sent home even tho I'd done the ultimate -- no one cared whether I lived or died.
The 2nd time, I had insurance, had a good pdoc, however, when he told me that he wouldn't be able to talk to me for as long as he did before, I went home on a break, and grabbed pills and od'd in the hospital. I wrote a note, and thought I'd "drop dramatically" --but at the same time, I felt very guilty and told a nurse -- rushed to the ER to have stomach pumped. I felt guilty.
the 3rd time, my pdoc tried to rush me in and out of the hospital. I felt so angry and conflicted, and I've always turned my anger on myself. If I had to be ready to leave hospital in 4 days -- why not 2 -- in fact, why not today?! I convinced me and I convinced pdoc -- I felt there was no choice. He let me go home. that night I went to class I was taking, and cried on bus ride home. the next morning, I awoke, and felt STRANGE. I knew there was no way to go on. There was a deliberate shutting off of emotions in me, but it seemed to happen by itself, w/o me acting. writing note, paying bills, filling lg glass w/water and lining up pill bottles seemed to just "happen," emotionlessly. I left door open (" so no one would have to break owner's property," I told myself. In addition, I meant to turn off telephone, but I "forgot.") a friend telephoned, inviting me out to dinner, I declined, saying I wanted to sleep. I hung up. she called right back, demanding to know what was going on, that I "sounded funny." I told her. she called my dr and came out and took me to er -- she asked, when I was really drugged up, if I was mad at her. I said, "thank you." I NEVER, NEVER WANTED TO DIE -- I JUST WANTED THE PAIN TO STOP~!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!!!!!!
when I awoke from this one, I felt incredibly guilty -- I had tried to murder someone! I felt God and all the people in the world could never forgive me. when pdoc came in I said, "can you frogive me?" he said, "can you forgive yourself?" I had to workd to forgive myself. this was a big turning point. I could have died w/this one -- basic thought is this was 3rd and final od, 3rd and final suicide attempt.
However, in last hospitalization, I made an elaborate suicide plan which would happen when my mother died. I felt, "when she passes, I'm DONE!! I've done my work! It's over! I'm gone!!" It was because I was angry -- and it scares me, the way I turn on myself when I'm furious. Even w/this fantasy, I felt incredibly guilty, turning my back on God to plan suicide.
2)"I have to approach this like 12 Step -- just for today, just for right now, I'm not. However, I know I can never say never, and this bears watching in myself. I have good relationships w/drs, and I do love Life, & God, and people I'm connected to -- and I know that suicide would be taking all this love and turning it inside out and upside down.
The reality of BPD is painful. The reality of most suicide attempts is that they are more attempts to escape the pain then they are any true desire to die. However, that said, many are not capable, at the time these feelings dominate, of logically seeing that the pain that they are in can be worked through and or won't always be that severe. One thing I learned about pain from being borderline and held onto is that pain will pass. If you hang on long enough, seek help and learn to take care of yourself and grieve your sadness pain will pass. Corny as it sounds - "where there is life, there ishope".
Suicidal feelings are very real. If you feel this way you need to get professional help. If you struggle with feeling this way often it is wise to put together with a professional a plan for what you can do to take care of yourself when you feel suicidal.
Some borderlines do look at suicide as a way to punish those in their lives who they don't feel understood by or cared enough about by. To you, I say, why hurt (or kill) yourself over the failure (or perceived/interpreted failure) of someone else?
Borderlines often do not know how to be there for themselves. Self-trust can be very difficult when you don't know the "self" you are supposed to trust.
There are always options. Often suicide feels more "doable" than working one's way through feelings and issues that (at this point) you may not understand. However, know that working through those issues and coming to feel those feelings in a safe way can be learned. You just need to give yourself time to get there.
The reality is that some borderlines have lost their lives as a result of this personality disorder and sadly, more will too. You do not have to be one of them. You can make the choice to live. Living can be painful. Life does not come with any guarentees but the more borderlines that learn to work through, live with, process and feel their pain the less fewer of them will have to choose suicide, such a final solution to what are always temporary problems, in life.
If you'd like to follow this link I have a page on my web site that I have dedicated to a borderline who lost her battle with BPD to suicide. Anne was a member of a support list I run for borderlines, called Borderpd up until almost the time of her death a few years ago.
In Memory of Anne A Borderline who Committed Suicide
For more information about suicide
© Ms. A.J. Mahari - August 26, 2000