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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 63

I don't remember a time when I wasn't suicidal - actively or at the very least, passively. As a child, I did ridiculously dangerous things to find a way to die (crossing busy streets with my eyes closed, running along the unfenced edge of the aqueduct, walking through 'dangerous' areas alone at night).

At 12, I took about 30 tylenol, thinking that would do it, but it just made me sick to my stomach. The depression waxed and waned, always there to some degree and sometimes almost overwhelming. During the worst times, I would find myself doing things that would make me feel guilty or shamed afterward - like I was trying to find even more reason to cause myself harm.

At 25, during one of the really dark periods, the pharmacy accidently filled a prescription with a year's worth of meds rather than a month's worth. I saw that as a sign. I borrowed my aunt's car, bought some spring water and bread to keep the pills down and parked in a hospital parking lot (figuring that a car with a sleeping occupant would go almost unnoticed in a place where tragedy and grief happen often). I didn't realize that an overdose can make you hallucinate and do things that are out of your control - I was freezing and started a fire to warm up, then went for a walk. A security guard found me and got me to the Emergency Room.

I woke up four days later, tied to the bed with a tube up my nose and down my throat, and covered with bruises. I'd been in and out of a coma, combative and pulling out tubes whenever I was 'awake'. I did some permanent damage to my liver and kidneys, and the drug I used caused some minor brain damage as it inhibits the body's ability to process oxygen.

I was forced into therapy, but since I sincerely did NOT want to be there I wasn't honest with the therapist and didn't 'get' anything out of it. The only reason I didn't immediately try again was that my mother made me promise that I wouldn't--and I keep my promises.

So I got through the next 12 years or so just hanging on, knowing that if something were to happen to my mother, I'd suicide pretty much that day. Got married, new job, first house. All the things that are supposed to make you happy and satisfied, but I was just surviving.

My younger brother also suffered from lifelong depression--we talked about it occasionally. Honestly, I thought he enjoyed life more than I did, and that if one of us was to go, it would be me. Not the case--he died by suicide in August 2008.

He and I were extremely close--we'd lived together most of our adult lives, even for a year or so after I was married. I had no idea he was on the edge, and then he was gone.

When I'd tried, everyone was so glad that I hadn't succeeded that they hid their anger and fear from me--I'd been stuck in the tunnel vision of how horrible I was feeling and hadn't realized how I'd impacted those around me. Now I'm one of the ones left behind. I completely lost it.

I realized that there was no way I could suicide now that I'd lived through the results and witnessed how devastated the survivors were. The only option was to try to find a way to actually enjoy life--like everyone around me seems to. I finally approached my doctor for help and was referred to a crisis centre. I was put on a new antidepressant and for the first time was open and brutally honest with a therapist about my feelings.

My work gave me a few months off for therapy and healing. My family gathered round to support me completely. I still have bad days, but I think I'm actually starting to understand how most people feel on a day to day basis. I may not be 'happy', but at least I'm content some of the time, which is better than I'd had before or even dared to hope for. There is some hope that I'll continue to get even better.

I only wish now that my brother had this same chance--to see whether antidepressant meds would help him as well. I still miss him every day, and probably will forever, but I take some comfort in the thought that his suicide literally saved my life.

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