Choosing to Live:
Stories of Those Who Stepped
Away from Suicide
Stories by thirty-four people who attempted suicide, told in their own words, plus accounts by twelve others about what it is like to be in despair and later to find something to live for:
Aleema, who fell into prostitution for a time, found a job as a singer for a band, presented herself as good and whole for several decades despite the painful memories of her youth, and who finally could forgive herself.
Orlando, who was rescued from drowning in Mexico by a nearby fisherman, and who now is a counselor treating people who, like himself, were bullied as children.
Anne, who tried to kill herself after her father shot himself, and who, fifteen years later, has acquired the peace of knowing that she is loved and accepted after living decades with shame and self-betrayal.
Foreword by David T. George, M.D.
Harmony: “I Am a Mistake”
Aleema: Raped, Sick, Fired
Drake: Alone in the Woods
Garrett: College Pressure, Gender Identity
Orlando: Raped by Classmates
Luke: Taunted and Everything Else
Hannah: Teased and Beat Up
Not Good Enough:
Cara: Lost Identity
Dakota: Working on Self-Esteem
Nolan: Haunted by the Death of a Child in War
Penny: A Slow Death
Louise: Trying Life in a Different Way
Pixie: Black Cloud of the Family
Nathan: “No, You Are Not Depressed!”
Rose: An Inner Strength
Ups and Downs:
Randy: Crashing Again and Again
Eva: In and Out of Hospitals
A Strange Impulse:
Emilee: Eight Years Old
Robyn: Like a Pack of Hyenas
Catherine: Looking for a Normal Life
Depression and Anxiety:
Bryan: Lonely and Miserable
Aaron: Dreading Every Little Thing
Breakup of a Significant Relationship:
Theresa: “I Deserved to Die”
Mark: Losing Everyone
Wanting to Die, Wanting to Live:
Lack of Support:
William: Estranged from Family
Marissa: Feeling Abandoned
Shame and Addiction:
Joseph: Using Drugs and Alcohol to Escape Shame
A Dysfunctional Relationship:
Dese’Rae: Feeling Trapped
Suicide of a Parent:
Anne: Searching for Herself
Kyle: Brain Injury
Edward: Emotional Disability
Olivia: Winter Gloom
In Hospice and Dying Anyway:
Margarita: “Why Should I Keep Living?”
From Despair to Hope: Twelve New Voices
“When I Was Suicidal”: Twenty-One Responses
How to Deal with Someone Who Is Suicidal
From the Introduction:
This book is for both the living and the dead. It gives voice to those who have succeeded in their attempts to kill themselves—Janine’s mother, who could not live with herself; Marshall’s father, for whom the stress of living became too overwhelming; and Ilene’s husband, who could not endure the memory of having had to kill innocent villagers in Vietnam or himself be shot by superiors. (I have changed these people’s names.)
This book is also for the living. It is for parents who have a child who is depressed, mentally ill, or suicidal. It is for teenagers who have been bullied or treated badly by their classmates, or who have been dumped by a special friend. It is for therapists who want their patients to know about others with similar feelings. It is for psychology students and professors who want a first-person account of a subject they may know only theoretically. It is for children of abusive parents, for adults who are in desperate circumstances, for those who are afraid to talk about suicide with their suicidal friends, for the tens of millions who have attempted suicide, for those who think about the meaning of life. Last, this book is for those who are now thinking of killing themselves so that they can know they are not alone and that there is hope.
From the foreword by David T. George, M.D.:
Choosing to Live offers people who are struggling with suicidal thoughts the opportunity to meet other people who have been in their shoes. Some were caught in the whirlwind of family dysfunction and felt unwanted or unloved. Some were bullied and made to feel like they were insignificant. Some were sexually abused and saw themselves as damaged or disgusting. But all struggled with similar feelings of hopelessness, emotional pain, and darkness. Each person’s story serves as a source of encouragement and speaks with loud voice to all people who struggle with suicide that they are not alone!
Most importantly, readers will be encouraged by the reality that although the people they will meet in the book struggled, each one managed to dig their way out of despair. Some realized that the problem was not so much that they wanted to die as it was that they didn’t know how to live. Initially they viewed talking as a waste of time—what good could it do? But according to the peoples’ accounts, therapy helped them find new roads that they never knew were there. Some stopped running from the past and gradually cut the chains that were tied to self-doubt and the hurts of rejection stemming from failed relationships. Some needed a safe place to regroup and were hospitalized. Some found medications to be a life-saver. But I think it is fair to say that, in spite of all the pain and challenges, everyone was glad to be alive. They realized that suicide is a long-term solution to a short-term problem. Having a vision for CHOOSING to live provided the switch to turn on the light at the end of a dark tunnel.
David T. George, M.D. is a practicing psychiatrist in the Washington, D.C., area. He is board-certified in psychiatry and internal medicine, Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at George Washington School of Medicine, Senior Clinical Investigator at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (a division of the National Institutes of Health), and author of Untangling the Mind: Why We Behave the Way We Do (HarperOne, 2013).
All names have been changed (except for Cara and Dese’Rae).
To be published by Charles C. Thomas Publisher in 2017
Copyright © 2017 by Cliff Williams All rights reserved