TED - Break the silence for suicide attempt survivors

Even when our lives appear fine from the outside, locked within can be a world of quiet suffering, leading some to the decision to end their life. At TEDYou, JD Schramm asks us to break the silence surrounding suicide and suicide attempts, and to create much-needed resources to help people who reclaim their life after escaping death.


From all outward appearances, John had everything going for him. He had just signed the contract to sell his New York apartment at a six-figure profit, and he’d only owned it for five years. The school where he graduated from with his master’s had just offered him a teaching appointment, which meant not only a salary, but benefits for the first time in ages. And yet, despite everything going really well for John, he was struggling, fighting addiction and a gripping depression.
On the night of June 11th, 2003, he climbed up to the edge of the fence on the Manhattan Bridge and he leaped to the treacherous waters below. Remarkably – no, miraculously – he lived. The fall shattered his right arm, broke every rib that he had, punctured his lung, and he drifted in and out of consciousness as he drifted down the East River, under the Brooklyn Bridge and out into the pathway of the Staten Island Ferry, where passengers on the ferry heard his cries of pain, contacted the boat’s captain who contacted the Coast Guard who fished him out of the East River and took him to Bellevue Hospital.
And that’s actually where our story begins. Because once John committed himself to putting his life back together – first physically, then emotionally, and then spiritually – he found that there were very few resources available to someone who has attempted to end their life in the way that he did.
Research shows that 19 out of 20 people who attempt suicide will fail. But the people who fail are 37 times more likely to succeed the second time. This truly is an at-risk population with very few resources to support them. And what happens when people try to assemble themselves back into life, because of our taboos around suicide, we’re not sure what to say, and so quite often we say nothing. And that furthers the isolation that people like John found themselves in.
I know John’s story very well because I’m John. And this is, today, the first time in any sort of public setting I’ve ever acknowledged the journey that I have been on. But after having lost a beloved teacher in 2006 and a good friend last year to suicide, and sitting last year at TEDActive, I knew that I needed to step out of my silence and past my taboos to talk about an idea worth spreading – and that is that people who have made the difficult choice to come back to life need more resources and need our help.
As the Trevor Project says, it gets better. It gets way better. And I’m choosing to come out of a totally different kind of closet today to encourage you, to urge you, that if you are someone who has contemplated or attempted suicide, or you know somebody who has, talk about it; get help. It’s a conversation worth having and an idea worth spreading.
Thank you.

It’s odd how so many people in my life… and myself… we talk about my past episodes… my drug use… my bad decisions concerning relationships… and my therapist and my family are all supportive when I need to get some of it out of my head… but NONE of us really talk much about when I tried to leave this life.

It is my re-birthday… because I changed a lot when I was in hospital that time… My family likes to focus on the fact that I lived… But the actual few weeks leading up to it… Or even the attempt it’s self… The darkness I was in that motivated my attempt… We’ve never really opened that chapter up.

My re-birthday is coming up again soon. December.
I sort of wish my Sis would open up about it more since she is the one who found me.

It is interesting how afraid we are of that word… concept… action.

@BarbieBF Thank you for posting this… I hope this will start some helpful and healing conversation.

hope is the solution to stoping suicide

With the current situation that I find myself with my son… I can’t ignore the reality of just how real suicide is or can be. Over the past couple of months he has spoken of it often. That he would rather die then be in the hospital or on medications for the rest of his life. It’s not a word that I can ‘brush under the carpet’ and pretend like it doesn’t exist. It is real for him therefor it needs to be real for me. :purple_heart:

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a wise doctor told me when i was in despair…–’‘don’t give up on hope you won’t always feel that way’’

Wow… I’ve heard myself say that too. It took a while to tackle it. I’m sorry he’s hitting this wall too. I’m glad your paying attention. There were even some docs who didn’t take my suicide rant seriously.

It was a nurse who told me that I wouldn’t be in hospital for the rest of my life if I just got my head out of my butt. She really honed it in that it was all up to me.

My parents never said I’d be on meds the rest of my life either… they sort of used different words for a long while.

“You’ll have to be on this med for a 36 months or 60 months… then we’ll be able to see what comes next… just 60 months” (sounds a lot easier then 5 years)

Then it’s just been recently that I’ve faced up to the fact that YES… I will be on these meds for the rest of my life… but it took a long time getting here.

I hope you get him back or in a more stable situation soon.

This is probably something we all think about with our kids. It`s always at the back of my mind.
I hope you and your son can get through this together OO

Suicide is an issue that is very emotion-laden for me, since my daughter tried 3 times and my DH tried as well. I still have so many emotions about it that it is hard for me to discuss because all those emotions are still so raw, and conflicted. My DH and daughter and I have talked about it a little bit, I think we deal with it as our psyches allow, you can only handle so much pain at a time.
These attempts were indescribably painful and traumatic for me. And of course for them as well, to be in that place where that seemed like the best solution to their pain. My best advice is don’t be afraid to ask the question, “Do you have a plan for ending you life?” And take immediate action. It could save a life.

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has your son stopped drugging? I haven’t seen you say anything about that? I wish you the best for caring for your son @BarbieBF

His currently clean because he is inpatient. He has never really been clean by choice though.

i am a suicide survivor, i lived to tell the tale

I also am a survivor from two seperate attempts…I feel lucky to be alive.