Disclaimer: I feel that I must say right up front that I am not a healthcare professional, and what I’m about to share is simply my own experience.

This is how old I was the first time I attempted suicide:

I was five years old. When I look into those eyes I see the pain and the confusion that led me to try the unthinkable. I just wanted it all to stop because I really couldn’t imagine how I could get through another day. Did I say that I was five years old?

Nowadays when I see a child of five years old I can’t imagine what it would take to drive that innocent little creature to want to end it all.

But for me it was the feeling that I was utterly alone. Sure I had a mom and an absent father, and so many siblings I still don’t know all their birthdays, but they had all moved on with their lives. When I was five the next one up was already 11 and they just got older from there. No one would listen to what I was saying. No one would look me in the eye. No one would make any indication that I mattered in this world.

And as an adult I can now see why a 13 year old (or older) wouldn’t want anything to do with a 5 year old child – they live in different worlds.

A couple of years later I bonded with the puppy my adult sister brought home and perhaps the bond was unhealthy (like I said, I’m not a mental health professional) but that labrador my was my entire world for a couple of years. She was literally everything to me – she was the only one I felt I could talk to and she was the one that made me feel like she was happy I was in this world. These days I see that companion animals are the key to many people having the ability to function in society. That dog was the companion animal that was getting me through each and every day.

But it turned out that I was the only one in the world that thought that she was my dog. After all, my sister brought that puppy home originally. She also left and joined the armed forces and left me alone with the pup. I was a very young child and had no idea what the larger implications were.

Then one day a couple of years later my sister came to visit – then a few days later I woke up and my companion animal was gone. I guess the visit was to retrieve the dog, which actually translated into my entire world crashing down around me. I never got the chance to even say goodbye to her.

That’s when suicide was back on the table. I don’t know why I wasn’t successful, I tried various ways over the next few years. Of course I’m so happy I never figured out a good option to end it.

I reached out for help in the only ways I knew how. I cried a lot as a kid. I tried running away a few times. But what was weird is that I was always punished for it. I was told to “grow up” a lot. And also “I don’t have time for your dramatics”.

Y’all, if your 14 year old can’t stop crying uncontrollably please take it seriously. Please. Tell them “I will protect you from whatever it is that is hurting you”, “I want you to be happy and you’re not alone in this, I will help you figure it out”. Don’t tell them to grow up!

And sure as hell don’t take away a pet that they are emotionally bonded to!!

Bottom line, my experience is that suicide was an option because I felt so alone, abandoned. I felt that no one was there to help me, or listen to me. So for me the message of World Suicide Prevention Day is this:  assuming a child is too young to contemplate ending it is not being realistic. If a kid is crying out for help, help them.

MY STORY ends happily thank goodness. Once on my own, and through many years of torturous self-discovery, I am my own champion, I can protect myself, I can love myself, and I can love others. I am happy to say that I haven’t thought about suicide as an option since graduating high school.

And also I get to have as many of these as I want:

Koya’ana and Tamaya