10 September 2009

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today, 10 September 2009, is World Suicide Prevention Day.

I am a suicide survivor. My first attempt was made when I was a teenager, because I couldn't come to terms with being gay and being Catholic. I just responded to someone on Facebook who inquired about this. Here's what I wrote:
I was raised in a very conservative, very religious Catholic Democratic household, by my very religious, very conservative Democratic Grandparents. I didn't know that there were gay people growing up. Then I started going on-line, and I met my first gay person, my Unca Uni. He got me to realize that all the fantasies/what not I'd been having were b/c I was gay.

I couldn't reconcile being Catholic with being gay. One night, whilst on the phone w/ a fellow young Republican from Yonkers, I came out to him. I was also taking sleeping pills. But having led an extremely sheltered life, I didn't know that you're supposed to take the whole bottle all at once, not one at a time (which is what I was doing). My family was away on holiday. I fell asleep before taking too many of the pills. Woke up the next day & realized that if I'm gonna survive as a gay boy, the religion thing was gonna have to go.

And so it went. And here I am....
The grandparents never found out about it. Over the years I came to tell my parents, who didn't raise me. I came out to my grandmother in January 1999, before moving to Phoenix, Arizona to live with my best friend at the time, with whom I was also in unrequited love. By the way, don't ever move cross-country to be with someone you're in love with but who loves you only as a good friend; the results are disastrous.

Anyway, ever since that first suicide attempt, I've been confirmed in my identity as a gay man who abhors all of these so-called Christians touting their Bibles and telling me I'm going to hell (in a handbasket). There are Christians (some Catholics included amongst them) who are supportive and don't have an issue with us LGBTQ folk; unfortunately, I fear that they're in the minority.

Religion no longer plays any aspect in my life. I consider myself spiritual, and I'm fine with that. I'm comfortable with my spirituality, which I've discovered after my automobile accident in January 2002.

In the months and years that followed my accident, I've had quite a few suicide attempts, and often think about ending my life. All of the attempts, however, were made while I was under the influence of narcotic pain killers. As such, my plans were a bit off-kilter and--fortunately--weren't successful.

When I came off the narcotic pain killers (it took me about six months for my mental faculties to return in full strength), I realized how stupid I was being. However, the feelings of wanting to end my life remained.

These feelings of hopelessness and suicidal ideation arise mainly from two factors: suffering from chronic pain, and suffering from chronic Depression. These two stressors work hand-in-hand with each other, each feeding off the other in a vicious cycle. The pain makes my Depression worse, which in turn causes the pain levels to elevate. The elevated pain levels worsen the Depression, and around and around we go.

I've previously written about my last suicide attempt that was in either September or October 2005, which resulted in my being arrested for possession of a controlled substance. This goody two shoes boy from Westchester just didn't know how to conduct an illegal transaction. Although the Town of Harrison police were the most ignorant bunch of assholes on this planet that I've ever personally encountered, they did--unwittingly--save my life by arresting and prosecuting me.

Nowadays, instead of acting out on my suicidal thoughts, I seek help. If my thoughts get to a point where I start developing actual plans, I put myself in hospital until they pass -- in order to keep myself safe.

I've gotten pretty good at dealing with them lately. However, I realize that not everyone is as fortunate and self-aware as I am.

When I was 16/17 (back in 1990), there was no such organisation as The Trevor Project (@TrevorProject on Twitter). There were no support groups for gay youth where I lived. Hell, it was still illegal to be gay in more than half of the states in the USA, and it was still technically illegal to be gay in New York (I hadn't learned, at the time, that the New York State Court of Appeals had ruled New York's anti-gay penal statutes unconstitutional some time in the 1980s, if memory serves).

But now, there are many such organisations, and there is hope. There is always hope.

So if you're having thoughts of wanting to hurt yourself, end your life, or otherwise do something that you don't need to do, please reach out and seek help. There are many, many places to go nowadays that just didn't exist when I was a teen.

For suicide resources in the USA go here and for worldwide referrals go here.

(Thanks to Dr. Deborah Serani for the links to resources.)