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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 34

When I saw the poster for "The Reasons to go on Living Project" I was skeptical. I thought, “Great. Someone is going to speak about all the things to live for.” I felt like this because I feel like I've heard it all. I attempted suicide twice in early 2008. Apparently I'm lucky to have survived. At the time, I didn't feel lucky, I didn't feel like I'd been given a second chance at life. I wanted to, I felt I should feel like that but I just wanted to die. The only things I felt grateful for were that my doctor agreed to continue to see me, and that my friends and family stuck by me.

What brought me to the point of wanting to kill myself? My husband died by suicide in 2003. I found him in the garage, dead from carbon monoxide poisoning. He killed himself in an old collector car he had. A 1973 Corvette with no catalytic converter and dual exhaust. I developed post traumatic stress disorder from this experience. This in turn triggered memories of other traumatic events in my life that had happened. I was, and still am, currently in treatment and on medication for the anxiety and depression caused by these memories.

The day after my husband killed himself, friends of mine towed the car to a storage area on their property. I thought about it over a couple of years but was not ready to deal with it yet. Late last year these friends told me I needed to pick up the car. They could no longer store it. I thought I was okay with this. I thought I could desensitize myself to the car. My doctor was completely against the idea. I told no one. I brought the car home and had it put in the garage. Same car, same garage.

I couldn't take it. I was plagued with nightmares and flashbacks. I pulled away from my family and friends, stopped going to church. The day I attempted suicide is not very clear. I was supposed to go to an appointment with my therapist but skipped it. I sat on my bed with all my medications before me and started taking pills handfuls at a time. I had a fair amount since I had just renewed my repeats. About five minutes or so after I took the pills my therapist called. I lied about why I cancelled and said I had to go. I felt a sense of panic for a moment but then I lay down and thought, “I can finally rest.”  I felt so tired, not just from the meds but from life itself. I didn't feel sad. Because of how I sounded my doctor called 911 and then called me back. Then I passed out.

When I woke it was a day later. I was in a psychiatric hospital. I could barely walk.  My coordination was really affected by the overdose. My family and friends came to see me. I hadn't seen anybody for so long. The best day was when my doctor came in. I thought for sure she would never want to see me again. I honestly felt like she cared. I think inside I felt like it was good to see everyone but felt like they came because I almost died. I couldn't feel their love inside. I heard the words but couldn't feel them. I spent two weeks in the hospital and a few weeks after that I attempted suicide again. I was given a month’s supply of meds which I again overdosed on. Same desire to die, to go to sleep and never wake up. Seeing all my family and friends gave me that final goodbye. It was even a little easier this time. I felt peaceful inside after taking all the pills. I had to make up an elaborate lie to my sister in order for her to believe I was okay and for her to pick up my kids after school. She didn't buy it and called my friends who rushed over to my house. I don't remember them arriving at my house. I still don't know how I got to the hospital.

Three days later I woke up. I felt like I could barely breathe. My chest felt heavy. I couldn't lift my arms. Both times I would have died had it not been for my doctor and friends. I developed pneumonia and became very sick. I still did not feel grateful to be alive which I felt very guilty about.

I am fortunate that I have almost made a full recovery. My coordination took a long time to come back and I was left very tired and drained. I spent several days in the ICU and then was transferred to the psychiatric inpatient unit. My doctor worked intensely with me while I was in hospital. It was actually a gift to be able to be safe and tackle so many big issues. One of my best friends sold the ’73 Corvette for me. I went to an intensive Dialectical Behaviour Therapy Program.  This program gave me the skills I needed to stay alive but I was still missing that reason to live.

Back to your poster. As I read it I thought, “I so want to be one of those people that has attempted suicide and now has this great will to live or at least the reasons to go on living,” but I didn't. Then I thought, “I can't wait for this study to come out so someone can provide me with all the answers to why I should go on living.”

I've been told that I need to think of my children. Both of their parents will have committed suicide. When I feel very suicidal and when I took the overdoses I couldn't see how much my children needed and loved me. I was so depressed I truly believed they would be better off without me. I didn't feel I would be missed.

You can't live for others, not even for your own children. At least I couldn't. I know first hand what it's like to lose someone to suicide. You have to feel like you are loved and needed. I heard people say these things but I couldn't internalize them. My doctor has worked extensively with me. I now realize that this is what will keep me alive. To be able to feel in my heart that my doctor does care about me and truly wants to see me get better. To feel in my heart that my friends do love me and think I am a worthy person. I saw my children's need to be taken care of as just that but in order to live I must be able to feel that they love me deeply and would be heartbroken if I died. So my reason to live would be because I am a good and worthwhile person and I am loved by many people. I am not quite there, but this is what is keeping me alive.

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