The face of SUICIDE is often a happy one.


My name is Mia Chard.

I am a suicide survivor. I am not ashamed.

This is the face of suicide. This is the face that the world always saw from me – smiling, happy, helping, loving. No one would have guessed that I would have tried to end my life. No one really knew the depths of my despair and self loathing and I worked hard to make sure they never knew.

Depression, anxiety, sexual abuse, PTSD, suicide – these were all words to be whispered, if said at all. Why don’t we talk about them? Why aren’t we real to ourselves and others when we struggle?

Life is hard. Why is it so hard to say that? Why is my first reaction to say, “but it’s also wonderful”? Sometimes it’s just hard. Sometimes it’s weeks and weeks of hard but we run around pretending it’s not. We run around asking each other how we are without waiting for a response. When people ask me how I am, I wonder what would change if I swap out the word “fine” for “suicidal” or “struggling” or “depressed” or “lonely”? Would they continue on with a, “that’s nice,” because they weren’t even listening in the first place or would they look at me like a deer in headlights and not know what to do.

 Are we listening to each other? Are we listening to ourselves?

The face of suicide is often a happy one. I feel like the media has trained society to believe suicide happens to those who look despondent, discouraged, or crazy. More often than not it is those we least expect, those who are able to put on the happiest exterior that end up leaving this world too soon and by their own hand.

I believe we can start helping others by trying to remove the stigma that is attached to suicide. The stigma is huge and comes from so many different directions, even those who claim to be seeking to help those who struggle. One of my worst experiences after my suicide attempt came from a psychiatrist who was suppose to be helping me.

I was in the psychiatric ward of the hospital more ashamed than I have ever felt in my life. I wanted the walls to cave in and the floor to swallow me whole. My entire first day was spent waiting for the psychiatrist to arrive so that I could let him know what a mistake everyone had made and that I needed to go home, I had to work the following day, I did not belong on that unit.

I was told by the counselor who checked me in when I was admitted the night that it was up to the psychiatrist if I could go home and that he would be in around 10am or 11am, at the latest, the following day. He mentioned groups during the morning that I could participate in – I wanted none of that. I asked if that was mandatory and he said it wasn’t, that I didn’t have to participate if I didn’t want to. I appreciated that because again, the shame was almost more than I could bear. I went to bed counting dots in the ceiling, trying to keep myself from panicking, and believing I would be able to straighten in all out in the morning with the psychiatrist.

The morning came and I had slept maybe an hour. Being there was the absolute worst thing for me at that time. It was hell. The issues from my past, the trauma from sexual abuse, had led me to be very afraid of places that I couldn’t leave of my own free will and choice. The trapped, not being able to leave feeling, is still one of the most difficult for me. I also had zero trust of people with any type of authority and combining those two made this experience my worst nightmare.

The anxiety was higher than it ever had been. I began to do complicated math (let’s be real, for me, that means multiplying big numbers together, nothing more complex than that, haha) in my head to try and stay out of my flight or fight response because the triggers were so intense for me. Fight or flight were a real possibility and I knew I couldn’t afford looking out of control. Ten o’clock came, then eleven, my anxiety increased and all I wanted to do was get out. The tech’s came by and asked if I wanted to go to group a couple of times but I politely declined, stating that I was waiting for the psychiatrist.

I can still remember that there were 2,467 dots in my ceiling, I don’t believe I will ever be able to forget how many there were; they were the only thing that kept me from completely losing my mind. Around 3:45pm the psychiatrist finally made it in. He got to me around 4:15pm and I was ready, I knew what I was going to say, but this was not going to go the way I had planned.

He came in and barely looked in my direction, staring down at what I assumed was my chart. He began our conversation saying, “Do you know the cops could have arrested you?” No introductions, no letting me know his name.

“Excuse me,” I said back.

“Yes, you took the pills in your car so technically that could be considered driving under the influence,”

“I was parked,” I stated.

“Doesn’t matter. They still could have done it. You’re lucky you weren’t arrested,” he said. At this point, he had still not even glanced in my direction.

I wanted out of that line of conversation so I said, “I wanted to talk to you about going home this evening, I can call my parents.”

“That’s not happening. You have to know what you’ve done is serious and there is no way that’s happening. We know what’s best for you, you aren’t in your right mind.”

“I know what I did was reckless but I really just was trying to get rid of the panic I was feeling,” I said while trying to hold back tears. This couldn’t be happening, I had to get out of here. “I really feel I would be best in a different environment.”

“Everyone always says that but we know best and our program runs for at least two weeks. So I believe that completing the program is what is best for you.”

Now I did start to cry. “I have a life and people that can help me, I have to work tomorrow. Isn’t, wasn’t it just a 24 hour hold? How can you hold me here?”

“Well, the police can admit you with a 24 hour hold, but once the ER doctor has admitted you to the unit it’s at least 72 hours not counting weekends and holidays and then after that it’s really up to me. It’s up to me and I can have you committed to stay longer if I believe it’s necessary, it’s what I believe it right. I was told you didn’t participate in any of the groups and so I believe you to be hostile and not ready to face reality and get the help that you obviously are needing.”

With every word he said I kept getting more and more panicked and feeling more hopeless and lost than I ever have felt. Here was a doctor, a psychiatrist, and he was treating my like I wasn’t a person, like I wasn’t an individual. There was no compassion, there was no dignity, there was no trying to understand who I was and what I needed. There was hostility, there was a criminalization of one of the worst moments of my life, there was him having to demonstrate his power instead of listening to me, and what I needed.

I remember him leaving my room and being overcome with one of the darkest feelings that had ever come over me. He made me feel ashamed and stupid. He made me feel like a liar and a crazy person. To me, he perpetuated the stigma that exists for those who try to end their lives. It took me four days to get myself out of there, it was the worst four days of my life. The stigma I felt being there and my interactions with that psychiatrist and others who treated me like a second class citizen were so horrendous that I have vowed to myself that I will never be in a place like that again, and that promise still stands for me.

We have to get better at how we treat people in my situation. We have to get better at how we treat people, period. I wasn’t crazy, I wasn’t selfish, but I was afraid. I was afraid of what people would think if they knew that I struggled with PTSD, anxiety, suicidal thoughts. I was afraid of being labeled crazy or being seen as incompetent. I was afraid to talk because I was taught by society that there was shame in my struggle.

There is no shame in my struggle. There is courage, strength, resilience, determination, years of living with a pain that should have crushed me. Let’s stop hiding and start sharing. Let’s do it for all those who don’t believe they are worth it, who have been treated poorly by people who are supposed to be helping them. Let’s do it for the voices of those who are gone. Let’s do it for our friends, our family, ourselves. Please join me in trying to spread the word. In trying to stop the stigma!

I want to stop whispering, I want others to stop whispering. Let’s share our story together, let’s #stopthestigma !

My name is Mia Chard.

I am a suicide survivor. I am NOT ashamed!

9 thoughts on “The face of SUICIDE is often a happy one.

  1. Man, why do those hospital psychiatrists have to be such a-holes?! I would say we had the same person but mine was a woman.

    Thanks for sharing your story. Though I don’t feel ready to share mine in my own life, I do feel strength, understanding, and validation from your story. Talking about your experiences and sharing with those you know and don’t is courageous! So glad I could read this. I look forward to reading more and wish you well on your difficult journey.


    1. Thanks for reading! Thanks for relating and sharing just now! I’m sorry that you’ve had to experience something similar and I wish you blessings and peace as you continue to live and fight!


  2. Your article brings out so many feelings for me!
    First let me tell you that I am sorry for your struggle,, you should have never faced such uncaring at such a hard time .
    However, I take offense at you calling yourself a “survivor”. The real suicide survivors are those of us who truly had to survive the loss of a loved one from suicide, my sister and nephew both took their own lives and I will spend the rest of my life trying to survive.
    I believe what you can do is heal and conquer! May God bless you


    1. Allison,

      Thank you for your words. I’m sorry that my use of survivor was offensive for you, I can’t imagine nor would I ever suggest I know what you’ve gone through. Just as a means of information, I know there are a couple definitions of the word and my decision to use the word “survivor” came from the third definition in the dictionary of survivor: “To carry on despite hardships or trauma; persevere.” That’s all I’m trying to do, carry on in the best way I know how from the many traumas that have touched my life. No offense was intended.
      May you be blessed in your life. Mia


  3. Dear Mia,

    My name is Ashlee. I’m co-founder of the Youshare Project, with the mission to connect people around the world through true, personal stories. I recently stumbled across your blog and read the above post entitled “The Face of Suicide is Often a Happy One.” It’s incredibly compelling and speaks to the heart of youshare’s mission. I think it would make a wonderful youshare, because not only will it help others who are dealing with suicidal thoughts but I believe sharing personal stories and engaging in positive, meaningful dialogue about mental illness is the only way to shatter the stigma that so often comes along with it.

    If this sounds interesting to you, I would love to email you directly with more information and formally invite you to adapt your story to youshare and share it with the project. You have my email address and website. I hope to hear from you soon.



  4. Wow, Mia! What a reminder that any role of authority we hold is a sacred responsibility of trust and love. I believe that love powers everything. The abuse of such power is so prevalent because the true demonstration of love is so underutilized. Thank you for your insights. You have helped me today! I want to see each person as an individual, look into their eyes and spend time listening to them. Not an easy task…but a worthwhile, daily goal for sure!


    1. Thanks so much, Kerry! I really appreciate you sharing what you got from my post. I especially loved you bringing up the aspect of power, it was definitely part of what I was trying to get across. I loved you goal and it is one I hope to aim for myself 🙂 Thanks for reading!


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