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Why I No Longer Refer to My Attempt as Weak

Posted on October 20, 2019 at 2:30 AM Comments comments (2)

"Why I No Longer Refer to My Attempt as Weak" ©



As an experienced advocate, I am strong enough to understand my suicide attempt better than other survivors can typically handle. This strength enables me to understand the trauma involved in ways I recognize can greatly benefit many people. So, I have addressed the following suicide topics carefully to make sure this discussion is as safe and productive as possible. Despite my effort, there may still be details explained or implied that could trigger certain readers. Please be mindful of this as you continue.




        Before 2017, when I began regularly volunteering as an advocate in the local mental health community, I referred to my suicide attempt as weak. That was until a co-volunteer encouraged me to do otherwise. She told me, "Other people have died from less." This person was an experienced facilitator of mental health services in the community. So, I valued her experience as much as I respected her opinion for the empowerment. By shedding light on why I viewed my attempt as weak will allow me to reveal more about surviving suicide than is typically discussed.


         In the years before my attempt, I recognized how fragile life could be. During my senior year in high school, I lost a former classmate in a tragic car accident. I prayed and prayed with every fiber of my being that she would recover. She fought hard but unfortunately succumbed to her injuries. A few years earlier, during 1997, I lost a fellow 9th-grade classmate to suicide. The next day, when everyone found out, the hallways filled with so much tearful sorrow it was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I remember asking a teacher if it had been me would everyone be as distraught as they were about him.


        By the time I graduated, I viewed the concept of suicide as a one-way trip. You make your choice, commit the act, and that was it. No do-overs. No second chances. It never occurred to me an attempt was survivable nor why my classmate wanted to end his life. While attending college the following year, my own mental health began to decline. "If I cannot decide whether or not to live my life, then no one can make that decision for me." I felt powerless to stop losing my will to live despite being surrounded by dear friends who cared about me very much. I was also deeply conflicted.


        I longed to settle down, eventually to marry and perhaps have a family of my own. I had some aspirations for success, financial independence, maybe some sights to see. All I wanted was to have my place in life with a genuine sense of belonging and happiness. Instead, women never seemed interested. Some even retreated from me on dance floors as if I had a dreaded plague. I was also unable to choose a career without feeling I had no idea what to do with my life. Eventually, by 2003, without a direction or purpose, I was willing to let go. How did not matter as much as when or why.


        I tried to rationalize the decision itself. I would either be successful, and my suffering would be over, or I would have a near-death experience that would force me to learn from my mistake. Years earlier, I had heard about Dannion Brinkley's brush with death after being struck by lightning. Beforehand, he was an uncaring person and often mean to others. Fortunate to survive the experience, Brinkley had a complete change of character and became a much more considerate person. What more could I lose? No note could begin to explain what I felt. So, I did not leave one. Who would care or understand?


        There was no way to know whether specifically what I chose would cause any serious harm. Although I knew what would, I no longer cared about my safety and blindly took the chance anyway. Because of how I carried out my attempt, I felt every bit of my experience and was wide awake the entire time. Regret, anxiety, guilt, fear, anger, misery, all incredibly strong. For five to six hours straight, my mind defied the limits of sanity. I survived. No one could see it in me that I had given up. I still looked the same. However, I felt terrible guilt not just for what I did, but how poorly I did it and for still being alive. I felt like a coward.


        Why? I survived when others had not, such as my fellow 9th-grade classmate. Neither did I lose consciousness or suffer serious injury compared to other attempt survivors such as Kevin Hines. Therefore, I regarded my suicide attempt as weak. Was I being hard on myself for failing to carry it out? Perhaps. I was still responsible for the decision to attempt. No life-changing near-death experience. It was nothing more than a sleepless night wracked by pain and guilt. Either way, this was now my burden to bear.


        Less than a year later, in 2004, a familiar type of tragedy tested my fragile recovery. A childhood friend and next-door neighbor perished in a car accident not far from where we both lived. Unlike my former senior high classmate, he did not suffer. Where I had been selfless and more concerned with praying for her recovery, my reaction to his passing was drastically different. I wanted nothing more than to take his place despite knowing he was already gone. I was still willing to throw my life away. Eventually, I moved on. However, I refused to face my past or what I had done to myself.


        It took me four more years before I finally came to terms with my suicide attempt. My paternal grandfather lived with my parents and me for one year before passing away in 2008. I had only ever seen my grandparents once or twice a year before then. One night while eating supper, my grandfather and I made childishly funny faces at each other across the table. In that moment, I made a one-of-a-kind connection with both him and my dad. I now saw undeniable value, happier memories, and positive personality traits that defined who I was as a person. I no longer felt disgraced about my past or undeserving as a human being.


        I now valued myself and my life for both the bad and good.


        For 14 years, I considered my attempt as weak. Regardless of the outcome, I should have been more concerned about the choice and effort to harm myself. The best course of action would have been to seek out some form of treatment, counseling, and psychiatry. The mental health co-volunteer was correct to encourage me to reconsider how I felt about my attempt. She turned this powerful negative into an empowering positive experience I could share with others. She also helped me believe I was not an unwanted recovery story.


        Being alive is not something to feel ashamed of. You are meant to be here just as much as me. If you are comfortable and willing to, you can share your story as I have and should not be misjudged or feared. As sharing mine has shown, there is someone very special at the heart of the story: You. You own this moment of your life and can do so many good things with it. If by few others, I will always hold a special place in my heart for you. Why? Because I do not hide from who I am anymore. I respect the journey that led me to be who I am today. And I will never stop caring because you are why I am still here. You are my reason to be.




© 2019 Jim R. Irion.

My article is protected under Fair Use copyright law.

Formal publishers must contact me first.


• ToWriteLoveOnHerArms ( 2020, January 13; IPR). https://twloha.com/blog/why-i-no-longer-refer-to-my-attempt-as-weak/.


This body of writing also serves as professional presentation material (approx. 10 minutes). Interested parties should contact me right away to make arrangements at no cost or charge.




About The Author:


I am a two-time Pennsylvania State University graduate and mental health advocate with over ten years of dedicated community service volunteering. My primary focuses are suicide prevention, anti-bullying and empowerment. Currently, I am a NAMI member trained as an In Our Own Voice presenter. I also have QPR Gatekeeper layperson suicide prevention training.


Be sure to check out my NAMI Blogs today.

My th;rd NAMI Blog

Posted on September 25, 2019 at 5:05 PM Comments comments (2)

One year ago, I faced challenges which seemed to end my future of being a mental health advocate. Where could I volunteer, or be an advocate, if not first where I live? Those involved are well known and highly respected members of the mental health community. Individuals who are not only older and wiser than me, but whose collective reputation and connections far exceed my own. People whose past and present accomplishments dwarf anything I have ever done. Their hard work has helped a small percentage of this community's residents in ways that are priceless.


My "unwanted recovery story" cannot compare.


Yet, before each of the incidents those involved already knew I am a suicide attempt survivor. They knew "(Stigma) harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives." NAMI's Cure Stigma PSA Campaign Manifesto. "In 2017, there were an estimated 1,400,000 suicide attempts." AFSP.org Suicide Statistics.


On local social media, I have seen "Not being a part of the solution makes you part of the problem" rhetoric being posted. I disagree. I am part of the solution. NAMI certainly thinks so. My first two Blogs talk about being an advocate while in recovery and what to do if you face discrimination. To persist, on June 20th I self-published a stunning article on anti-bullying that NAMI Submissions had already first considered to publish earlier this year.


Entitled, "It Matters How People Are Treated", does not take a side. It takes a stand. Against youth and adult bullying that affect people every day even to suicide, my article takes a stand when it should. Not next week if you feel like being mean to someone. Not next year because of political differences. Now; when this life matters most. I am not a suicide victim. I am a human being seeking to be a "victor" instead.


Pick a side…


I have. It's called life.


Bullying behavior and stigma continue to affect people much like mental health conditions and suicide symptoms do: regardless of whom you are. In late 2016, I made the conscious decision to face my mental health, because I knew what th;s was like and all the lives at stake. I didn't stop with helping only myself. I accepted the challenges I knew I would face. I chose to help others even though I am still facing th;s worse now than before.


Su;cide is universal.


At the end of each day, suicide should bring most or all of us together with serious determination to resolve it. If you were to ask a suicide attempt or loss survivor just how important life actually is, you should get a very honest answer: life matters. Thanks so incredibly much to NAMI Submissions and Oryx Cohen of the National Empowerment Center, my published writing has helped me endure what I face in my community. Now I can focus on critical issues that need addressed as of yesterday.



"People keep telling survivors to move on.  Some do, but not me.

Even if there's a small chance, I owe this to every moment of silence to try."

(adapted from Avengers: Endgame trailer #2).



If at first you do succeed, try, try and do more. Push yourself as far past what you once thought was nothing you could accomplish. Challenge your impossible. Own it: i'mpossible. Reach for the stars. Read my perfectly timed th;rd NAMI Blog to find out more about how suicide prevention is possible and imperative to take seriously.



"We Need to Take Suicide Prevention More Seriously".

(click on title for web URL)

It Matters How People Are Treated

Posted on June 20, 2019 at 2:30 AM Comments comments (4)

"It Matters How People Are Treated" ©



        With or without a mental health condition, bullying can or has likely already had a negative impact on your life. I know by personal experience, but not only from high school. This entirely avoidable behavior has been tolerated for so long it has even evolved with the emergence of social media. How can such an accepted social norm be challenged? The solutions are as simple as making the right choices. Join me as one voice to advocate for anti-bullying by sharing my insight. Together, we can finally change this toxic trend into a positive.


        Bullying can be defined as one or more intentional attempts to cause unnecessary emotional distress and/or physical harm. Therefore, the common perception that it only occurs amongst younger age groups, in public and private schools, is incorrect. Age does not exclude you from being bullied. In fact, while advocating for mental health, I was targeted as recently as 2018 by someone older than me. Cyber-bullying has also emerged through social media well after I graduated high school. Why is going out of your way to be mean to others still tolerated or even socially acceptable? To address this issue, the best approach is to focus on its origins.


        As early as fourth grade at age ten, I quickly realized how bullying made me feel: anxious, depressed, paranoid, or that I did not belong. What I could not know then was this distress actually triggered some of my mental health symptoms. Two of which are easy to identify from the words I chose. Harassment and teasing continued through adolescent age in High School. Without an effective deterrent to stop this trend, negative peer pressure allowed it to happen more often. “Kids will be kids” was also a common parent response clearly ignoring the mistreatment. Harsh social isolation I endured still affects me to this day.


        Why are bullying and peer pressure so disruptive at a young age? Pre-teens and teens have not learned effective coping skills yet to deal with such aggressively upsetting behavior. They are also concentrated in school settings pursuing a necessary education for up to twelve key formative years. As a result, anxiety and depression develop and can quickly spiral out of control leading to suicide. Not only could such long-term psychological effects be avoided, the benefits will swiftly spread throughout society itself in a matter of years.


        With a sustained and effective effort to eliminate bullying in schools, there will be a less confrontational environment for school shootings, peer pressure, and suicides plus fewer opportunities for depression and anxiety symptoms to occur. Education will improve and without excessive funding needed. The most important benefit of all will be greater intolerance of unnecessary hostility, but not just towards any single group of people. With uncompromising fairness, any form of social stigma fueled by ignorance and hatred should not be acceptable. Now, more than ever, we need this solution to be taken seriously.


        Cyber-bullying continues to target an untold number of youths with no signs of stopping. Social media is used to viciously attack people and with no regard for innocence or permanent damage to their reputation. In the US, racism is used so often as a tool for political and economic oppression that actual racism is overlooked. In fact, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, and stigma proven harmful during the Civil Rights Era are still widely used. Toxic political intolerance regularly pits friends, family, and complete strangers against one another. These intentionally divisive trends have even been enough to cripple effective government.


        Incredibly, all of this comes from choosing to be deliberately hurtful to others. It is disturbing to believe so much negativity is encouraged. Or for as many a year as many of you may remember. Let alone from as high up as political elitists who, as adults themselves, should be setting far better examples. However, challenging such an accepted social norm is not impossible. The change can easily start within each of us right now. All we need to do is make the right choices. Choose not to tolerate, participate in, or encourage any form of nasty behavior.


        We all have our days. Not enough sleep, feeling over-stressed, strained finances, raising kids, physical and mental health issues, for a start. Several years after graduation, I bumped into a guy who pushed me around during Junior High. He explained there had been problems at home and expressed remorse for his behavior. I apologized for how I acted and genuinely forgave him. This made me realize there may not only be tragedies behind at least some bullying, but to not condemn anyone who could be struggling and just lashing out. In the end, we are all vulnerable to the same degrading effects of misguided hate, abuse, and ignorance.


        Although peer pressure can involve bullying behavior, it is not as intense outside of younger age groups. Attempting to poison a classmate with a known substance they are seriously allergic to, irrationally comparing a person to Adolf Hitler because you refuse to tolerate their contrasting political views, making fun of people simply for looking or dressing, being different or less fortunate than you. Choosing to engage in actions like these can easily cause lasting emotional harm regardless of mental health status. Please, make the right choice. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.


        With or without a mental health condition, bullying can or has likely already had a negative impact on your life. If this toxic behavior is eliminated from schools, and tolerated a lot less in our society, a whole host of real world benefits will emerge within a matter of years. A decrease in suicide rates, fewer school shootings, improved education, fewer opportunities for anxiety and depression symptoms to develop, and more. The sooner we take for granted that it matters how people are treated, the sooner mental health can improve for millions of people in just a single lifetime.




© 2019 Jim R. Irion.

My article is protected under Fair Use copyright law.

Formal publishers must contact me first.


• National Empowerment Center ( 2019, August 9). https://power2u.org/it-matters-how-people-are-treated/.


This body of writing also serves as professional presentation material (approx. 8 minutes). Interested parties should contact me right away to make arrangements at no cost or charge.




About The Author:


I am a two-time Pennsylvania State University graduate and mental health advocate with over ten years of dedicated community service volunteering. My primary focuses are suicide prevention, anti-bullying and empowerment. Currently, I am a NAMI member trained as an In Our Own Voice presenter. I also have QPR Gatekeeper layperson suicide prevention training.


Be sure to check out my NAMI Blogs today.

My second-ever NAMI Blog!

Posted on November 2, 2018 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (1)

Before I begin, I want to take this unique opportunity to share with you that, for the fourth year in a row, I am participating in No-Shave November. It was originally organized to generate awareness of cancer through the abstinence of shaving. Movember dually promotes men's health/cancer awareness during this month as well. As I'd done last year, I will continue the no shaving all through December to create additional awareness.



While in the previous blog entry I explained what brought about my urge to write (ultimately for NAMI), I also stressed a unique importance with the timing of their offer to publish as well. And for good reason...


Unfortunately, my rekindled determination to advocate for mental health acceptance was not first inspired by positive influence. Instead, there was a very negative factor involved that came to light at almost the same time as when I submitted my writing to NAMI. The trend of questionable treatment began roughly as far back as August of last year. However, during this summer two incidents made it clear I was intentionally singled out and stigmatized because of my mental health.


For years, I have repeatedly reminded myself of what other people have to live through, which is often much less fortunate than my own situation. Everyone who truly knows me, or has had the opportunity to read my blog writing, knows I put myself last when it comes to the wellbeing or prosperity at stake. Regardless, there was no reason for what has happened. Not to someone who is advocating for the necessity of mental health awareness at a time when acceptance is sorely needed for everyone.


As you read my second NAMI Blog, keep in mind the idea of making a negative into a positive. This will help put into perspective what I have gained from this challenging experience, and demonstrate the potential for so much more. I also humbly encourage you to keep those who do bully or discriminate against others close at heart, and offer the opportunity for forgiveness. Either one of us knows just as well as the next person how difficult life can be. Let us work together, instead of belittling ourselves, so that in a single lifetime we can have a chance to help end the stigma plaguing all of society.


Thank you so much for taking the time, making the effort to read and hopefully to share this second of two NAMI Blogs. Bless your hearts, each and every one of you. Now, I present to you:



"Facing Discrimination While Advocating".

(click on title for web URL)



As a result of having my first NAMI Blog published on the 11th, I had the privilege of being contacted by an enterprising health practitioner seeking to improve mental health through better grieving. Ms. Haley Harris-Bloom praised my awareness of triggers and bringing attention to the details of early warning signs in my writing. She reached out to me in hopes of sharing the Kickstarter for her GriefGuide app, developed from a year's worth of devoted research.


In her words from the original correspondence, Ms. Harris-Bloom states that "Grief, like other mental health topics, is often swept under the rug and treated as something to ?get over?. GriefGuide is made to let the user know they are not alone, they are not atypical, and to provide grief education and encouragement." I agree as I came to a similar conclusion, with regards to rushed grieving when it comes to victims of suicide loss, in one of my unpublished article drafts just last month.


I humbly encourage everyone to check out Ms. Harris-Bloom's GriefGuide Kickstarter page, at bit.ly/griefguide1. It is my pleasure to share this with all of you so that she has the opportunity to make a positive impact with mental health as I have thanks to NAMI.


Best of luck!

My first-ever NAMI Blog!

Posted on October 18, 2018 at 4:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Back in late June of this year, I thought to myself and wondered what would happen to me by my 37th birthday? Let alone in the days and months beyond. My future seemed dark and still rather foreboding. I can scarcely remember a time when perception of my life was hardly any different. Such honesty which I have already been rudely criticized for, I might add. I had not yet reached decisive treatment. Though, thanks to a dear friend, I discovered resource case management and my case manager had begun successfully guiding me towards financial assistance and treatment options that I now have. However, I had not been able to achieve my dearest goal of a definitive way to share what I have learned and reach many more people.


NAMI PA Blair County's "In Our Own Voice" program had failed to get off the ground, despite my having completed the re-training as a co-presenter in early May. No one in the mental health community was able or willing to mentor me. I had only touched the lives of a few hundred people through this website and my ongoing community volunteer work. Though, to my joy, I was able to reach people across the world. It had been roughly a year and a half since I made the brave decision to confront my mental illness, while being driven by a stubborn refusal to give up. All of this despite heightened stress and equally stubborn depression that happened to begin peaking during this summer. This summer, of all times to be under such pressure, was also the 15th anniversary of my suicide attempt. Challenging? Yes, but not a struggle.


Yet, here I am still advocating for mental health awareness and acceptance - anyway.


By the end of June, I felt compelled to write a detailed account of what I had learned up until that time. In fact, speaking of acceptance, I owe being bullied on social media by a former high school classmate for the urge to do the writing. It was a good example of taking a negative and making it a positive. ;) In all, I wrote a total of ten pages in the form of questions and answers. This was my "aDvOcate onto others" blog series I posted back in mid-July. That was also when my suicide attempt was 15 years ago to the week; another negative to a positive. On a whim, I decided to submit the content to NAMI to see if they would be interested to publish any of it.


In no small amount of luck (remember, ten whole pages), NAMI Submissions was interested. More recently, I had also submitted a formal article which they then combined with my 'aDvOcate' content. Their interest was to publish not one, but two NAMI Blogs. NAMI; arguably the most renowned national non-profit resource on mental health. Wow! For NAMI to consider so much content - and - the timing of when they did so could not have been any more fortunate for me.


From all my heart, I personally want to thank Ms. Luna for taking the time and extraordinary effort to consider all that content. As well, the decision to offer me both opportunities of publishing national NAMI Blogs is an important accomplishment I cannot begin to express enough gratitude for. This will strengthen my resolve of continuing to advocate for mental health at a time when, as you will see in the second Blog, is very much in doubt here.


I also want to take this opportunity to dearly thank each and every relative, friend, and community service co-volunteer who is reading this right now supporting my efforts "to do more". As I had expressed to Ms. Luna at NAMI Submissions, thank you for making me possible. However, this is not for me...


This is for you.


All of you. I don't care who. Everyone. Close my eyes and point my finger. Blindfold and spin me around, until I'm dizzy and fall to the ground. Yes, everyone. Despite the challenges I face, now more than ever mental health acceptance is simply necessary. I am going to keep doing whatever it takes to live above my mental illness while striving to help inspire in others the same courage I now hold dear.


Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for taking the time and making the effort to read, and hopefully share this first of two NAMI Blogs. I now present to you:



"Things I've Learned from Advocating For Mental Health".

(click on title for web URL)