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Ninety per cent of people who engage in suicide-related behaviours are experiencing depression, other mental health issues, or have an addiction.

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Story 20

Before I became suicidal, my life was in a word “a mess”. I come from a truly dysfunctional family in which I suffered what at first appeared to be episodes of depression. I was hospitalized on 3 occasions during my late teen years and therefore managed only to graduate from grade 12 (grade 13 was incomplete). When I was 19 I was raped on the “first date” I had. In my family, dating was not an option until marriage was on the horizon.

From this disastrous beginning, I met my first husband and I would have married him even he had had three heads and an extra eye in the middle of his forehead. My misfortune was that he was abusive and so I finally got rid of him after 5 years.

Shortly thereafter I met my second (and present) husband and the three of us (included was my son from my first marriage) moved to London to start life over. When I got pregnant again, I sent my son to stay with my parents as my husband was attending school and I thought a short stay would be all right. However, after the birth of my daughter, my parents refused to give me back my little boy.

It was at this point that I became suicidal. I left the hospital alone and went back to my apartment. I could not comprehend a life without my little boy and I truly believed that they would side with my first husband no matter what. I just could not stand thinking about my life anymore and so I decided to kill myself by jumping off the balcony. We were five stories high and the basement made it six stories. At the very last second as I hung onto the railing of the balcony I did not want to die but it was too late. I landed on the parking lot pavement.

When I came to I saw a lot of bodies dressed in white.  I remember saying, “Where is God?” Somebody replied,“She’s alive!” I remember swearing because I had thought that God could fix the misery I felt.

If someone should think that ending their life is a good solution, I can attest to the fact that it is not. The pain that I felt was indescribable. I had a broken leg (above and below the knee), broken pelvis, broken arm and so on. They could not set any bones until I was stabilized. The doctors inserted a steel pin just above my knee and put my leg in traction. People who try to kill themselves and do not succeed are privy to a mess they can in no way imagine. The physical pain can be unbearable. Then you get to see the pain and horror in the eyes of someone you love and who loves you. Many people suggested to my husband that he should leave me in the hospital, go on with life and forget about me.

During the process of recovery in the hospital, my husband was with me every day.

When I was released from the hospital, my husband tried his best to encourage me to walk again. And with the help of psychiatrists and a later hospitalization, I was actually diagnosed as bipolar. Since 1983 I have been taking lithium and have never had a recurrence of suicidal thoughts or for that matter any kind of depression.

A few years later, I began a business in my home. Eventually my husband and I moved to a commercial address and he worked for the business as well. Daily contact with customers gave me the self-assurance I lacked.  When I was able to assist them in finding and securing good employment opportunities they told me that I was “wonderful” and that I had been responsible for their success.  I helped a lot of people who thought I was great and pretty soon I started to share their assessment of me. My work also enabled me to learn a lot about people and to empathize with their job successes and failures. In other words, I became a friend.

I truly believe that if a person is suicidal, that person does not feel any self-worth. Such a person also probably feels inadequate and unable to resolve issues that for them are truly heartbreaking.

The first reason for me to go on living was seeing the love my husband had for me even though I had been so self-destructive and essentially had abandoned him. The second reason was that though I did not have my son, I had a daughter who also loved me and needed me.  I see my first son often now, which is very important to me.  Thirdly, my customers gave me purpose and validation.

Why go on living when the world is sometimes a very hurtful place and it seems that “you just can’t win”?  As I now like to say, “Everything shall pass one day – even the good stuff.” Nothing stays the same and therefore, one never knows what changes may come in the future.

The oddest thing in the whole world has been for me to recognize that no one looks at you and judges you as to your social and economic status. Having an open mind and being willing to listen has made it possible for me to establish relationships with individuals from all walks of life.

In short, suicide is not the answer. It is only the accumulation of bad feelings that can change. Life can be good if you wait.

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