I Am a Survivor, Not a Statistic

“Worldwide, a person dies by suicide once every 40 seconds”

According to the latest data collected by WHO, The Worldwide Health Organization. That is a rather daunting and scary number. The fact that this spreads across all types of mental disorders among other reasons as well I’d imagine, is quite disturbing. The fact that I even bring this up, is that I feel that it’s commonly ignored how common it is. When you suffer from a mental illness, it tends to give you a sort of “tunnel vision” and it makes you feel alone. I want to explicitly tell you that you are not alone, there are a staggering number of individuals on this planet having an experience similar to yours. This is not to devalue the amount of pain you may feel due to your mental illness. This is to illustrate that you have such a large group of people that can relate to what you are going though.

The reason I am making this point is that February 15th, 2011, I tried to take my own life. Meaning that I have been battling my depression for over a decade, and have nearly lost several times. February itself is an incredibly tough month for me, as I’ve had a beloved grandmother pass away in February 2009. As well as I have never been a fan of Valentine’s Day, as it’s linked to a lot of painful memories. I cannot say that I am happy that I survived, I still would prefer to be dead. Yet, I can no longer see myself taking my own life. It is simply not a possibility for me anymore. There are many reasons behind that, but to simplify; I just don’t want to kill myself. I want to die, some days more than others, but I want to die by someone or something else other than myself.

It’s actually a little painful to be writing this, even though I am so usually open about my experiences with my own depression. The thing that hurts the most, I think, is that there are people (every 40 seconds) in the exact same place I was all those years ago. The painful thing is that I cannot help them. I cannot show them how a life can be turned completely around if they continued to live. I’ve had several people I know come into contact with suicide through a family member or friend killing themselves.

The one I will never forget is a coworker of mine told me that his 13-year-old cousin committed suicide. Rather than being depressed by the subject, I just felt such immense rage swell inside me, so I suppose I was influenced anyways. I kept thinking, I had just really started my battle with depression not long before then. Yet I never had even thought of killing myself when I was that young. I don’t even know if I understood the concept of death yet. I was just so angry, at myself mostly, for not being able to help this young child. Even though there probably was nothing that I could have done I still felt angry. To be honest, I still feel angry just talking about it.

In honor of those we have lost in the time that it took you to read this article, let’s make a promise to help those that are within our reach. Let’s make sure that these people that we know, maybe ourselves, don’t become the next statistic. Let’s lead the charge of suicide prevention through opening the conversation. Let’s smile at everyone we see to try and spread some joy. Let’s reach out a helping hand to those we meet here, online. Let’s let everyone who is struggling with their life know, that they are not alone. That all they have to do is speak up. Let’s all try to save a life, even if it’s only our own.

Thank you for hearing my story,

Alan Wolfgang

Check out more from me at The Smiles We Bear


13 Replies to “I Am a Survivor, Not a Statistic”

  1.  “I cannot say that I am happy that I survived, I still would prefer to be dead.” I know how you feel. I survived a suicide attempt last year and I feel the same way.

    1. Well, the good news is that there is hope. The bad news is that you have to fight for it. After years of living like this I had no more fight in me. Luckily, I had people who would fight for me, and pushed me to get on medication, and I’m doing for the majority better

  2. Being angry when you heard about someone having committed suicide is normal, because it’s a reflection, of how angry we are at ourselves, for not getting our own moods lifted, so we’re, out of our depressive states…

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