Not talking about it isn't working

I have attempted suicide three times in my life.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment…

That’s right, at three different times in my life, I felt I had no other options and the best thing to do would be to take my own life. The recent passing of Chris Cornell has stirred up a myriad of emotions in me, not only because his work was inspirational and instrumental in my love and creation of music, but also due to how his life ended and the demons he no doubt faced.

The first time was back in 2003, when I was just 19 years old. I was a little under 2 years removed for dealing with a surgery in which a majority of the bottom of my left foot was removed due to a rare form of muscle cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma, followed by just over 11 months on chemotherapy. I was diagnosed the summer after my junior year of high school, had the surgery just 3 weeks before my senior year started, and began chemo the day after 9/11. This was on top of already battling depression and anxiety starting in the 3rd grade.

After that ordeal, I moved to San Marcos and began going to Southwest Texas (Texas State, now). Even if I hadn’t just been through what I’d been through, I likely would not have been prepared for college life. The pressure to pick up my life where I left off, as if nothing had happened, the fact that I had this silent cross to bear now, and the inevitable pressures associated with being 18/19 years old were too much for me.

All three times I used a combination of alcohol and prescription medication, and all three times I had people close to me who pulled me through it and battled on my behalf.

It wasn’t until the most recent attempt in 2012 that I started taking my life seriously, and started dealing with the issues and demons that kept me coming back to that inevitable conclusion. Confronting my depression, accepting help in the form of group and 1x1 therapy, taking medication and not self medicating, facing my PTSD head on; it was not easy, and still isn't, but it's so worth it.

Life is hard. Life is work. Whether it’s just the rigors or every day that wear on you, or you have chemical predisposition to anxiety and depression. If you’ve lost someone you love, to death or because the no longer wanted to be a part of your life. If you’ve been diagnosed with an illness, or are dealing with PTSD from a previous illness or a serious life event. If you're struggling and self medication with alcohol and drugs, I understand and have been there; you're not alone.

Either way, suicide is never the correct answer. Somewhere, there’s someone whose life you’re going to impact; life is your decision to make that impact a positive or a negative one. You’re never alone, and there is always someone there for you. If you’re reading this, it could be me. It could be a brother or a sister, a mom or a dad, a friend or a co-worker, or even whoever is on the other line of a crisis hotline; but you’re never alone.

We need to talk about this; I need to talk about this. When I recorded and released ‘Vices’ 3 years ago, I dedicated it to the nearly 30,000 Americans who take their own lives every year and the almost 40 million dealing with Depression and Anxiety. In just three years, those numbers have grown and now an estimated 34,598 people die by suicide; an average of 94 completed suicides every day. More people die by suicide (34,598) than by homicide (18,361) in the United States. Suicide is the eleventh-leading cause of death across all ages, the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 14, and the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 34.

That’s not acceptable, and neither is silence.

If you are in a crisis and need help right away: Call this toll-free number, available 24 hours a day, every day: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You will reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a service available to anyone. You may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are confidential.

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