If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, help is out there. Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Suicide is a subject many are afraid to talk about or even acknowledge. But how do we not talk about one of the leading causes of death? Each year, suicides claim the lives of 44,000 people in the United States alone. It’s the third leading cause of death for children between ages 10 and 14, and the second leading cause of death for people between 15 and 34.

This is why we need to better understand it and do our very best to get people the help they need in their darkest moments. One way to do this? Talk about it. We asked people in our Mental Health Awareness community on Facebook who have attempted or otherwise been affected by suicide: What do you wish others knew about your experience?

Here are their responses:

“I want people to know that it feels like the best option when you feel like a burden to everyone you love. It’s not a selfish decision at all from that person’s view.”

— Conrad K.

“I wish people knew just how bad things were in my head when I was about to jump, or when I rammed pills down my neck. A lot of people call suicide a coward’s way out, but they don’t realize just how bad you are until they have lost someone close or they are in that position themselves.”

— Hayley L.

“I’m a daily survivor, as the thoughts of harm are always there, but one thing that keeps me here is looking at my children (they’re all adults) and thinking of all that they would have to do if I was to die, or worse, if I was left in a vegetative state. I make the decision every day to carry on and take it just one step at a time.”

— Tanya M.

“My brother committed suicide. It tore a hole in my mother’s heart that never healed. She went through years of blaming herself... you know, the old “if only he had reached out, I could have helped him.” Well, I read a lot, talked to mental health professionals, and I do understand, as much as I can, why he felt that was his only choice. He was not a coward. In fact, he did what he did to spare the people he loved. I don’t agree with his decision, but I get it. I miss him and wish we could have grown old together, but I am glad he is in a place where he doesn’t hurt anymore.”

— Nancy R.

“All I wish others to know is, it is not the cowards’ way out, and no one will ever understand a person’s mind when it is attempted. How terrible it actually is to feel that way. You don’t think of your kids, or your family, you just want to leave this world.”

— Dede J.

“I think that to stand or sit there and go against every single survival instinct in your body and act on those truly horrendous, awful, dark thoughts, whilst knowing the consequences of what you’re about to do to yourself, shows that it’s an illness and that it certainly is not a cry for attention. To go against your survival instincts and go ahead with any action to end your life, and to spare what you perceive is the burden you are putting on everyone else, actually takes a whole lot of courage. Of course, it’s probably to end your pain and suffering, too, but mostly from experience I’d say it’s driven by a skewed perception of protecting the people you love around you from this all-consuming disease.”

— Serena B.

“I wish people knew I never intended to live through it. It wasn’t ‘just a cry for help.’ I still wish I had succeeded. I want people to know inside my head is a very sad place.”

— Lindsay E.

“It is like a dark thing that hates you and tells you lies that you’re not worth it. But you are. The bigger the lie, the more you are worth it. (You may not feel it, but you are loved by someone.) For me, it was a quiet little voice that said: “Take that handful, it will be alright.” I prayed for help... Baptism and Christianity saved my life and I’ve never faced that dark thing again. I have my “blue days,” blessed with a natural companion animal. I take a minimum amount of an “anti-everything” — kind of goes with the diagnosis but hey, it’s minimal. Empowering yourself when it hurts to take that step every day — even just getting out of bed and watching TV all day — it’s a step.”

— Tessa R.

“I needed the comfort of one specific person. Comfort from anyone in general is pointless and often it’s the unsaid that helps more than words people think they should say to make things better.”

— Roxi P.

“Your life is precious. Even if you feel very ****ty right now, you will not feel like that forever. Don’t deny yourself the time and opportunity to get better.”

— Jamie W.

“We sometimes forget that we hurt others in our lives. It causes so much pain, and anxiety, and fear for our families. We never know what guilt our loved ones are holding on to. It’s really not worth it to put family through that loss.”

— Jess A.

“Life can and will get better. You’re not alone, there’s so many people going through very bad times and people who care about you. Sometimes it seems like a ‘bad life,’ but living is worth it. Seek help, find new hobbies, learn to live again, and enjoy little things, cause there’s only one opportunity and it is oh so sad to waste it ending this life. Please, don’t do it. I promise again, it will get better!”

— Monica D.

“It doesn’t necessarily get easier, you just get stronger and better at managing and coping with what you’re diagnosed with.”

— Hollyn D.

“It’s like a dandelion. You pull up the flower, not realizing the roots are deep and have spread far. You survive, but the call of the void never quite goes away. But you learn to not answer it.”

— Amanda L.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is out there. Reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If someone is at immediate risk of self-harm, call 911 or your local emergency number and stay with them until help arrives.

Responses have been edited for length and clarity.