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Deadly Thinking

Students share their experiences with suicide attempts, fighting to recover

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A Silent Battle

Two students tell their stories of survival 


Editors’ note 

The following article details two students’ experiences with suicide attempts. It contains language and descriptions that may be upsetting to some readers. 


He was suicidal at just 6 years old.

His first attempt was in November of 2017.

He tried to overdose on pills and went to Marillac, a psychiatric hospital, for the first time.

He attempted suicide because of depression, bullying, lack of support from his family and struggling with his gender identity.

His mental health began declining again in January of 2018, and he overdosed again and ended up staying at Marillac for six days.

“I thought I was better, but it was kind of just putting a band-aid on it,” junior Kris Mally said. 

After the second attempt, he started going to therapy. He said his mom minimized the issue.

“My mom didn’t really believe it was that serious,” Mally said. “Everyone was encouraging my mom to send me to therapy and she brushed it off until it happened again — from there, my social worker told her to send me to therapy or it would get worse.”

He said his dad doesn’t really understand mental illness and the need for therapy, and due to that, completing the steps to healing have been challenging.

“The recovery process has been difficult,” Mally said. “It’s hard for me to remember a time when I wasn’t suicidal.”

Mally said he still struggles living with mental health issues.

“It’s just been a game of me trying to figure out if I’m being a normal person or not,” he said.

According to the Center for Disease Control, depression affects 20 to 25 percent of Americans ages 18 and older in a given year, and according to the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, studies showed between 80 to 90 percent of people who seek treatment for depression are treated successfully using a combination of therapy and medication. An estimated quarter million people each year become suicide survivors, according to the American Association of Suicidology.

Mally said if he could give advice to anyone struggling with mental illness, he would tell them to get help. He said suicidal ideation is an obstacle that individuals can overcome by communicating with people they trust.

“Don’t pretend like it’s OK,” Mally said. “That’s what I did for a long time. I thought I was fine and that I didn’t need anyone to help me — but you can’t get over this by yourself. Before it’s too late, and you’re in the mindset where you think you can’t do anything else — get help. I went to the SROs at our school, and they helped a ton. Reaching out to local resources like Johnson County Mental Health and talking to teachers helped, too.”

Mally said his suicide attempts have taught him important lessons.

“I’ve learned to be more empathetic for people,” he said. “I’ve learned what my passion is — I really want to be a psychologist or social worker for younger children or adolescents. It’s been a mix of really good and bad things that came out of it.”

Mally said he has been shaped as a person because of this.

“I wish it wouldn’t have happened, but I wouldn’t be the same person I am today if it didn’t,” he said.


“There was the fear that I would die but also the fear that I would survive.” 

-Senior Kate Hollingsworth

Her first suicide attempt is at age 15.

She swallows a handful of pills.

She gets nervous and tells her mother before the situation can turn lethal.

She is rushed to the hospital.

She spends the next few years in therapy, battling her mental illness.

At 17, she attempts again. This time, the circumstances are far more grave. A friend rushes to her home, concerned after receiving an alarming text message from her.

She is taken to the hospital again, where she will spend the next few hours having convulsions and close to death.

“My body was not handling the pills that I’d taken — your body can’t really do that,” senior Kate Hollingsworth said. “After awhile, [I] started having convulsions. That was the moment where I was like, ‘Shoot, I don’t know if I want this anymore.’”

Hollingsworth said her most vivid memories include her parents’ look of fear as they discovered what had happened.

“That’s one of the things that I really remember about it — just my mom walking in. And her reaction of ‘Oh my God, what did you do?’” Hollingsworth said.

She was then taken to the hospital in an ambulance. She was hooked up to a multitude of machines in an attempt to read her vitals. Hollingsworth said she felt frightful during her second attempt.

“There was the fear that I would die but also the fear that I would survive,” she said. “The situation as a whole was just terrifying — I was in extreme pain and had no control over anything.”

After a few hours, Hollingsworth passed out. She woke up a day later to her parents sitting next to her. It took her five days to regain the ability to walk, but the journey to bettering her mental health was still underway. Hollingsworth said she realized the graveness of her attempt while she was healing.

“It was pretty bad, but after the first couple days in the hospital I was like, ‘I’m really glad that didn’t work,’” she said. “There’s so much more that I have left in my life and a couple nights ago could’ve been the end of everything.”

Hollingsworth said she struggled with her mental health all her life and there wasn’t any singular event that caused it. Rather, she said she had reached a point where she had grown tired of living.

“It was just easier to be done than to wake up every morning and not think anything’s worth it,” she said. “When I get in my extremely depressed or anxious states — it’s like I get up every morning, and I’m just living until I go to sleep.”

Hollingsworth said her motivation to get better came from her little sister.

“[My dad] would show me a new picture every day of her,” she said “That’s all I would ask for. I needed to live for my little sister. I have to be there for her. And for a while, that was the one thought that was getting me through every day.”

She said since then, her motivation has turned to her goals for the future. Hollingsworth said she started with small changes in her life to get better.

“My therapist told me for a while, ‘The average person has to do things to take care of themselves every day — you need to do that times three,’” she said. “It’s really making yourself the primary focus for a long time even if it feels like you’re being selfish. It’s what will make you stronger.”

Hollingsworth said reaching out is a crucial part of getting through suicidal thoughts and recovering.

“Things really do get better,” she said. “There will always be people you can talk to — you just have to find those supports. Whether it be a friend group or teachers or a school counselor, let someone know.”


THE DO’S AND DON’TS OF APPROACHING SOMEONE STRUGGLING WITH SUICIDAL THOUGHTS

Do urge Professional Treatment

Although you may love the other person, love is not always enough support. Mental health professionals are trained to handle and properly treat someone battling a mental illness.

Do Give Support

Check in with them and show them you will stay no matter how difficult it gets. Many people with mental illnesses worry that once they do divulge their inner feelings to someone else, they’ll scare that person away.

Do Lead With Love

Show the other person love. Make sure they know you care about them and simply want the best life has to offer them.

Do not Allow Dangerous Habits

If you suspect someone is doing something unsafe to cope with their emotions, don’t allow this to happen. Urge that person to channel their feelings into some other activity that yields the same cathartic reaction.

Do not Give Quick  Solutions’

Causes of mental illnesses usually have some neurochemical imbalance component, so simply telling someone to “Be happy” or “Fake it ‘till you make it” is not a valid solution for a physiological disorder.

Do not Minimize Their Pain

Because someone has it worse than they do does not mean what they’re going through isn’t serious and debilitating. Never invalidate or question their perception of reality.


IT CAN GET BETTER. REACH OUT.

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, please seek help immediately.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

The following organizations offer help:

To Write Love on Her Arms

Hope for the Day 

The Trevor Project 

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