Traumatic brain injury can trigger suicidal thoughts

by Beth Tucker

Suicide is not always just an emotional or psychiatric issue. Sometimes it’s a physiological one too.

I am a suicide attempt survivor

That means I have survived a suicide attempt. I’m also thankful to be in a much better place today, emotionally, psychologically, physically, and most importantly spiritually.

Four years ago I underwent brain surgery with extensive complications which resulted in a massive hemorrhage to the left temporal lobe of my brain. We hear so much these days about traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by things such as football-related concussions, military IEDs, as well as other brain injury related events. The truth is that a TBI can triple your risk for suicide.

I remember how distorted my thinking was

Makes no sense to me now, but back then it was ALL I could think about. It’s actually hard for me to fathom today, but back then my brain was literally fooling me into thinking this was something I had to do.

I remember planning every step I would take, including taping hand written notes to all my belongings, giving away important things, and writing goodbye notes to my children and my parents. I wish I could explain just how confused I was at the time.

I can remember feeling so desperate, isolated, and lonely. Your mind literally plays tricks on you and leads you to believe that others would be better off without you. I felt trapped! As if suicide was my ONLY option. Again distorted thinking.

Those thoughts were lies

The brain plays tricks on you when it’s been damaged physiologically (from an injury) or chemically (from depression). Thank you Anne Moss, for teaching me to not be ashamed of my story. Thank you for shining a light on this too often misunderstood and taboo subject.

Guilt is the feeling of doing something wrong, Shame is the feeling of being something wrong.

While I can’t change the past and what happened, I can change my future, and learn from my mistakes. So glad I’ve been given a second chance at life, and so glad to have met you Anne Moss. Thank you for your important work in this world! In the words of Brene Brown..”If we share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding shame can’t survive.”

Before meeting Anne Moss, I hadn’t spoken to anyone about my suicide attempt, not since the day I was released from the hospital after it happened. I was too ashamed. Thank you Anne Moss for having the courage to turn your pain into purpose. And for inspiring me to use my voice, the one I was given back, to now do my part to help wipe away the stigma.

3 thoughts on “Traumatic brain injury can trigger suicidal thoughts”

  1. Beth, Please never be ashamed of your story. I ended up with Complex Regional Pain Syndrome which is an injury to the sympathetic nervous system. Oh man was my mind playing tricks on me for a while. I had to admit myself into the psychiatric unit at the nearest hospital. I will be finishing up the depression story soon, but things just popped into my head like it was my reality. I wasn’t thinking it, but I was walking the boys to the bus stop when I was able to walk still by myself. All of a sudden I saw myself in the car with a hose going from the exhaust into the car and duct tape filling up the appropriate area. 10 different visions happened to me, but this was the most painful to me because I was right there with my boys. We didn’t have any financial strain, I had gotten worse months before, but otherwise everything was okay. It’s just the whole mind body thing being out of whack for CRPS. Thank you for sharing and please look out for my depression story sometime next week.

    1. Thank you for saying that Leigh, I’ve been so inspired by Anne’s courage and her cause. It wasn’t until I heard her story that I realized how important it was that a share mine. So many are affected by this, in so many different ways! so I felt it is important to hear my circumstances from my perspective. Just want to help educate and offer a glimmer of hope through my story.

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