Warning: This blog post contains descriptions of suicidal thoughts.
Former congresswoman Katie Hill opened up about having contemplated suicide after her October resignation, writing in an op-ed published in The New York Times on Saturday, “I stared at the veins in my wrists…tracing them with the edge of the knife, lightly at first, then pushing harder and harder.”
“In the days leading up to my resignation, my life was just like everyone’s worst nightmare. Millions of people had seen pictures of me naked,” Hill wrote. “After the images came out, as I lay curled up in my bed with my mind in the darkest places it’s ever been, countless texts and voice mails came from donors, friends, volunteers and voters sending love. But they couldn’t drown out the horrible messages and calls from people who found my phone number on the internet.”
Hill, who represented California’s 25th district that includes northern Los Angeles County and parts of Ventura County, resigned after the public revelation of a relationship with a former campaign staffer, which was bolstered by the release of intimate photos. Hill says she believes that her estranged ex-husband is responsible for leaking the photos — which she refers to as “revenge porn” — to far-right website Red State, although he has denied the accusation and said he was hacked.
Two days after her resignation, the humiliation drove her to the edge, where she contemplated suicide.
“The future I thought was in store for me that was instantly and irrevocably gone,” she wrote. “Suddenly and with total clarity, I just wanted it all to be over. I got up and looked for the box cutter. I couldn’t find it. A part of my brain was saying: ‘Stop it, this is stupid. You’re not going to do it. Go drain the bathtub and get yourself together.’ But I felt like I was out of my body, like it was moving without me, and I got the paring knife and got back into the cold bath.”
She describes attempting to cut her wrists with a dull knife until “fine red lines started to appear,” and realizing that “if I pushed just a tiny bit harder I would start to bleed.” The thought of how taking her life would affect her family and the young women who looked up to her stopped her from following through.
“What would this do to my parents? To my brother and sister? And then I thought about my supporters,” she wrote. “I thought about the high school students who had told me how I inspired them. I thought about the Girl Scouts whose troops I’d visited who told me they wanted to grow up to be like me, and how their parents would explain this to them, and what it would do to them. And I realized I couldn’t do it.”
The next day she wrote her final speech, which she read on the House floor on Oct. 31.
“I don’t know exactly what’s ahead for me, and I know there’s a lot more pain ahead,” she concluded in the op-ed. “But I’m in the fight, and I’m glad it’s not all over after all.”
If you are having thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). You can find a list of additional resources at SpeakingOfSuicide.com/resources.