Wednesday, July 18, 2018

25 years later – what have I learned

Today, July 18th, is  my birthday, I am 45 years old.  July 18th is also the day, when I almost ended my life and would have altered so many others lives.   Whether it be luck, an act of God, or something else, my attempt was interrupted.  So today is my 25th anniversary of a second chance.

It makes my mind ache and my heart hurt to think of the effects my death could have had on the people I care about.   My parents would have lost their second child in the same year, my oldest son would have grown up without me.   My daughter, youngest son, and two bonus daughters, they wouldn’t even be here.   I would not have two granddaughters that bring such happiness to my heart.   So many amazing friends and acquaintances I wouldn’t have met.  What I believe to be my true calling in life never met.  

I will never understand, regardless of how much I read, research and train, what exactly could cause my brain to believe I was better off gone, that the people I loved would be better off, that I would be doing them a favor.   Sitting here with a mostly healthy mind, I know that isn’t true.   But in 1993, and especially the weeks leading up to July 18th, they were consuming, and it appeared to be the only true option that made sense.   I had to struggle so hard every day to stay alive. 

I am so thankful but will probably never understand why I was lucky enough to survive.   I used to have such guilt about this.   When I meet people that have lost someone to suicide, and I see their pain, their hurt, I felt guilty that I lived, even though I was glad I lived.  It also re-enforced the pain I would have caused the ones who cared for me.

This journey has been tough, thought provoking, I have learned so much, and realized there is so much I don’t know. 

This year I will spend my birthday working on last minute details for our 5th Annual Suicide Prevention and Awareness Conference - the eighth conference I have helped organize since deciding a little over eight years ago, I had to do something.

Getting to set up this conference is a birthday gift to me, it is part of my continued healing and continued resolve to help break down this discrimination towards mental health struggles that some call a stigma.  It is rewarding to know that I am part of these changes.   

It is my dream that it may also be a gift to someone who is struggling, struggled in the past, or has someone they know is struggling.  

When I celebrate my 45th birthday, I will really be celebrating, my 25 years of second chances, and hoping I can help make a world where many others can have their second chances.

Here are some lessons I have learned in these twenty-five years.

Lessons I have learned and want to share

Lessons I learned
Lessons I want to teach
       I am glad to be alive

       That when I feel overwhelmed or have impulsive thoughts, they will pass

       Being open and honest is so important to me. Once I was able to do that, my true healing began

       I am not alone, the dark painful feelings I have felt, so many others have

       The more I learn about suicide prevention and reaching out, the more I learn it is about just being there. I don’t have to have the answers, just let someone know I care

       That anyone can learn to help someone who is struggling. Let someone know you care and listen

       Never judge someone who struggles with suicidal thoughts, has attempted or died by suicide – they aren’t being selfish they are or have been struggling and in so much pain, a pain, I can’t even put into words

       Have open conversations with the people you care about. Let them know, that suicidal thoughts can be very common, but that they don’t have to act on it, they can go away and that you are there for them

       If you are struggling it can get better. Let me or someone help

       You know someone who is struggling right now

If you or someone you know is struggling please call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text 741741, there are people who can and want to help you through this crisis.

If you are looking for some resources to help you through some tough times, please go to this website  you can see great examples of skills that can be used.


  1. Son, you are a great helper. When I awoke this morning, my thoughts went directly to 25 years ago. The thought that we may have lost you inspires me to continue striving to do my part in suicide prevention. Also my attempt bothers me to this day. You and Mathias would have grown up without me. I would have missed out on so much and impacted everyone's life forever. Thank you Rick for God's intervention and you being here and all the work you do to educate others that they can learn how to help someone.

  2. Rick - this is a beautiful post. You write with such clarity. Your compassion for yourself and others shines through. I'm so glad you're alive and sharing your message of hope and healing with others. It is an honor to be your friend.

  3. Thank you for sharing, Rick. You're awesome!