Last Updated on June 4, 2020 by Nancy Carteron, MD, FACR
A quick search through my inbox indicates that around 10% of all the interviews we’ve done mention considering suicide or suicide attempts after a herpes diagnosis, and in the case of this interviewee, after a malicious and intentional HSV2 transmission.
The good news is, the vast majority of all herpes transmissions are not malicious or intentional, but unfortunately, those circumstances do exist. What’s more poignant, though, is how often suicide attempts or suicidal ideation is connected to a diagnosis.
If using The STI Project’s data as a representation of the population (7 years and over 300 interviews), then that means over 4 million people have contemplated or attempted suicide after a herpes diagnosis. (327 million total population * 1/8 who have genital HSV2 * 10%)
That’s heartbreaking, and even more disconcerting is that the numbers are likely much higher when adding the number of new genital HSV1 infections and considering that genital HSV (both type 1 and type 2) is under-reported. This interviewee is right, though – if that is you too, you are certainly not alone – but this has got to change, because that number is not ok by me. I’ve been there as well, so that’s why I’m fighting to do something about it. Scroll to the bottom for additional resources.
1. How old are you?
26, but I was 25 when I found out – 3 weeks before my birthday.
2. What do you do for a living?
3. What STD/STI do you have/have you had?
4. How long have you had or known you have an STD/STI?
As of today, three weeks.
5. Do you know how you contracted this STD/STI?
Yes I do – a person I trusted and was in a “relationship” with.
I met this guy after my mom passed. He was charming, sweet, and everything you thought you wanted in a guy. We made it official.
I got pregnant, and he forced me to get a abortion. That’s when he started acting different. A week after getting my abortion, they called me and told me I was positive for herpes. When I asked him if he knew he had herpes, he told me, “it’s not like I had HIV or AIDS.” He told me I’ll be good and laughed.
He purposely faked a relationship and gave me herpes, just so I could be hurt the way he was hurt when it happened to him. Two days later, he texted me and laughed at me. He tells me I am just like him now, and good luck on my fairy-tale life I planned on having because I am damaged goods now.
6. How has your life changed since you contracted an STD/STI?
It has taken a toll on my mental health.
After being told I had herpes, I cried everyday. I had a severe mental breakdown. I was put in a psychiatric hospital for trying to kill myself. I have been placed on three psych medications.
Everyday I struggle on wanting to kill myself or harming myself when I wake up.
7. Do the people who know you have an STD/STI treat you differently than they treated you before they knew?
Personally, I have only told four people I know that are close to me. I reached out to them when I attempted to kill myself. They are very very supportive.
Two people in my family know because the doctors had to tell them.
8. Are you currently under treatment for your STD/STI? If so, please share whether you have explored prescription medication, over-the-counter medication, or holistic and natural approaches.
No, I am not under treatment. Just waiting for my first outbreak to happen…
9. Has having an STD/STI hindered past relationships?
No, just, future ones. I will never date again.
10. Do you have a significant other? If so, how has this STD/STI affected your partner?
11. Have you been sexually active with someone since contracting an STD/STI whom you did not tell you had an STD/STI?
12. How have you changed as a result of contracting an STD/STI?
I feel lost. I feel as if why me?
I never thought people actually went around knowingly giving people STIs just because they’re mad they have it. I thought that was something on the news.
I feel worthless, damaged, weak, dirty, etc.
My thinking has changed. I think differently about everyone and everything.
13. Why are you choosing to participate in this interview and/or is there anything else you would like to share with us?
I want to share my story because I know there’s someone out there feeling how I do. I want them to know, “You are not alone.” You’re not the only person who feels like your world is over.
Herpes isn’t life threatening, but it’s the point of knowing you have it. YOU know, but if you feel how I feel, please speak to someone. Don’t do what I did – hold it in and then when it gets heavy, you black out and attempt to take your life.
I can tell you it does help me talking about it here and to my therapist. Get help.
Resources if you’ve contemplated suicide:
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
- Free Suicide Crisis Text Link – text START to 741741
- Comprehensive Suicide Resource List with Links and Descriptions from the CDC
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Resources, list with links and phone numbers
- The Trevor Project – an LGBT crisis intervention and suicide prevention hotline 1-866-488-7386
- Veterans Crisis Line by calling 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1. You can also send a text to 838255.
Can you relate to this interviewee? Did it help you to read someone else’s story? Have you experienced something similar or do you have some feedback to share with this individual? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!