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Approximately 80 per cent of all firearm deaths are suicides. Nearly 20 per cent of all people who die by suicide use a gun.

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Story 170

I was twenty years old when I attempted suicide, although I had been contemplating it for about six months, ever since I had an abortion.

At eighteen years old I moved from my small town to a big city to attend university. At first things were great and I loved my new life. It was after a few months that I realized it was the university lifestyle of boys, parties and drinking that I was attracted to and not the learning aspect. It was also around this time that I started being sexually promiscuous. Before university I'd only had one sexual partner but now I was sleeping with at least one different man every week. I felt a thrill from feeling that some wanted me, someone was attracted to me and that I was in control. In fact, I was anything but in control. My sexual encounters were often a result of too much alcohol.

Two years ago I met an older man who was 25 who I fell completely in love with. When he stopped calling I was heartbroken yet I would still meet up with him occasionally for sex. A few months later I met a local man who I thought I loved when I actually was merely looking for a rebound. It didn't last long and we broke up after a month. Two months later I found out that I was pregnant and hastily decided upon an abortion.

In the two weeks between finding out about my baby and having the abortion all I did was cry. I told no one apart from my best friend who accompanied me to the clinic. I still have never told the baby's father. I felt so alone yet was so scared of disappointing my family. Surprisingly enough, in the immediate weeks after the termination I felt a sense of relief and was not at all upset. I threw myself into my studies, probably as a means of distraction.

I had a few moments of guilt but it was not until six months later that I flipped. I had been feeling down for a few weeks but one night I sat and wrote a suicide letter instead of my usual journal entry. It was then I knew I had a problem. I knew I needed to help so tried to tell a friend how I felt but couldn't get the words out to explain.

One week later, I came home from a night out feeling upset as I couldn't stop thinking about the baby that I had killed. I felt that I too should die in some way to make amends. I truly felt lost ad helpless. I placed a plastic bag on my head and held my breath....the next thing I remember is waking up in hospital.

Those first few days were awful. My family were informed and I had to tell them everything...they were so disappointed in me but not at all angry, just grateful that I was alive. I received counseling which at first I found awkward and upsetting but after a while it felt so helpful having someone to discus my problems with. I was also prescribed an antidepressant. I still take the tablets but no longer go to my counselor. I feel open enough to tell my friends and family how I'm feeling now instead of bottling things up inside me.

Things have by no means been easy but I am so blessed to have lived. I have a boyfriend of 5 months who I'm very much in love with, hopefully a great career after I graduate, a wonderful god daughter and amazing friends and family. It may sound a cliché but I really live for each day and appreciate what I have achieved in my short 21 years. I still have a few down days when I think about my baby but I've learnt to grieve for the loss and I also try not dwell on the past but instead look towards to future and all the great things that are left to come.

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