PSA: Five Thoughts on Suicidal Ideation

I have been sitting on this post for months and months and it has held up production on this blog because it feels so important to get right (which means I can’t cut it short).

To share even one experience and bring into the light those ghouls that haunt the darkness feels like one way to take back power from the black, cold night.

I cannot pretend to speak for everyone — or even most people — who experience the urge to end their lives.

If you’re contemplating suicide, please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.

I can only speak for myself.

But I need you to hear me.

When I’ve contemplated death by suicide it hasn’t been because I wanted to kill myself. I have never wanted to kill anyone. I don’t know what that feels like.

Instead, it’s about not wanting to live. That’s an entirely different point of view.


The first time I experienced suicidal ideation many years ago, I was engulfed by crippling guilt over a mistake that seems so inconsequential now.  I was convinced that everything about me was a burden on the world, that I was truly bad and the pain of existing like this was simply too much to bear.

For reasons that I’ll never quite understand, I was convinced that I was never going to escape my misery and never stop being a burden.

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Where Are the Depressed Lawyers? #imnotashamed

The Numbers Say We’re Out There

Lawyers suffer from extremely high rates of depression and other mental health disorders. Estimates for the rate of depressed attorneys range from 2 to 3.6 times the national rate of depression in the U.S. A recent study of lawyer mental health in the Journal of Addiction Medicine found that 28% of respondents were experiencing symptoms of depression and 19% were experiencing symptoms of anxiety. Male lawyers are twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population.

I’ve seen the numbers.  I’m a lawyer. Research is what I do. So you can imagine how confusing it was last summer when I became depressed and my colleagues behaved as if they had never seen anything like this before in a law firm. They had no idea what to do with me. They kept turning to me to figure out all of the potential accommodations.

Not exactly easy to do while you’re in the throws of a moderate depressive episode. (Skip to the end of this page for a list of resources.) Continue reading