Yesterday was National Suicide Prevention Day. In fact, this whole week (September 7 - 13, 2015) is National Suicide Prevention Week in the United States (my friends Down Under have a similar Awareness Day on September 10 named RU OK?).
I could use this space and quote numbers and statistics. You know the kind. According to the CDC, every 12.95 minutes an American dies of suicide. 41,149 people committed suicide in 2013 making it the 10th leading cause of death in the US. 22.2% of those deaths were veterans. And over 1,000,000 people attempt suicide annually.
Instead, I'd like to take a moment and celebrate my life. You see almost ten years ago I was one of those 1,000,000 people. Back then my life looked bleak. I just discovered that my wife was cheating on me with my best friend from college who was also the photographer from our wedding. Living with this knowledge for several months before receiving confirmation of her betrayal led me to be diagnosed with severe depression and moderate anxiety. This depression weighed on me and I crawled inside a bottle every night to dull the pain. My nightmares were confirmed one day when I confronted my wife regarding the affair. I had asked her several times before and each time she denied it. This time was no different, except that after denying it she asked me to join her and my friend in a threesome. I stupidly agreed believing it would add spice to the bedroom and save my marriage. I spent the next weekend watching my wife servicing another man. This only deepened my depression.
On Christmas Eve 2005 I stood over my kitchen sink holding several pills in mouth. For several minutes I stood still. Not swallowing. Not breathing. My wife was peacefully sleeping in the bedroom unaware of where, and why, I was. After some time passed (I couldn't tell you if it was 30 seconds or 30 minutes) I spit the pills into the sink and threw the rest of the bottles across the kitchen floor. Something stopped me that night but the battle was far from over. Over the next two months I fought suicidal thoughts and tried several times to end my life.
During that time I reached out to an emergency hotline that was setup by my employer and started to get the help I needed. With the help of a wonderful support system that included friends, family, doctors, and insurance providers I was able to silence the suicidal thoughts and learned tools and strategies to manage my depression and anxiety.
Today, my life is much better. It's not perfect and there are still many challenges, but it's better than the alternative. I am so blessed and grateful for every day and every breath.
If you are suffering from depression or believe you may be please reach out to someone. If you are having thoughts of suicide or thoughts of hurting yourself please reach out to someone. There are people who care and love you. You are not alone. You are never alone.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.