“I felt like a big idiot”

Name: Fredrik Tjulander

Experience of suicide: Was close to taking his own life in 2012 and 2014.

Occupation: Psychiatric intensive care nurse

porträttbild av Fredrik Tjulander sittandes på klippor vid havet, vid en pir.
Fredrik Tjulander. Photo: Sara Johari

As told to: Maja Lundbäck, first published in the magazine Medicinsk Vetenskap No 3/2020. 

“After a divorce, I picked up the pace, managing major projects at work, taking out loans, inviting people to dinner, travelling and then, in the middle of that, I met my current partner. I had no idea that I was in a manic state. After a while, the depression set in. I felt terrible. The projects lost money and the bills piled up, hidden in the wardrobe. My partner didn’t notice anything but when she wasn’t at home, I cried. I mulled over various ways to die.

The final straw that made me attempt suicide was that I had promised one of my daughters that she could come on a trip to the USA. When I realised that I didn’t have the money to cover it I couldn’t bring myself to tell her, not until the day we were supposed to leave. I felt like a big idiot and texted her mum to say that I didn’t want to hurt them anymore and couldn’t go on. Then I walked towards the railway. But the police picked me up and took me to the mental ward.

A few years later, I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. At first, it felt good; I was prescribed medication and went to therapy. At the same time, rather than helping me, the government debt collection agency was chasing me over unpaid bills. Fearing that I would be driven to another involuntary suicide attempt, I basically decided to die on my own terms.

The suicide plan went as far as deciding the how and when. I felt relief, I was at peace with the fact I would soon be dead. One day, I was in the kitchen with my partner. She said: ‘Fredrik, you will stay, won’t you?’ Taken by surprise, I replied ‘yes’. Now it was simply a case of staying with her. That beautiful feeling of peace vanished, replaced by hope.”  

Do you need someone who listens?

Mind suicide hotline: Tel. +46 (0)8 90101 and chat room at all hours 

Children's hotline BRIS: Tel. +46 (0)8 116111 all days between 14 and 21 hrs

In an emergency: Call 112 (in Sweden)

More hotlines and support at the NASP webpage