The philosopher/psychologist William James has argued that "The man who hasn't seriously considered suicide can't yet consider himself educated." Unfortunately, the feeling of hopelessness linked to depression is not rare. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, only one-third of those suffering from depression get help for it, and the consequences of that are enormous. In 1995, 22,500 people were murdered in the United States, but more than 31,000 committed suicide. The suicide rate in Colorado Springs is higher than the national average and it's rising in every sector of the population, particularly among 15 to 24-year olds.
Have you ever contemplated suicide? It was a genuine possibility for me during my early 20s. I was extremely depressed. Nothing particularly triggered it. It had been coming on for years.
What were your feelings? A paralyzing sense of disconnection to the world around me. It felt like I was trapped in a cave with the light getting dimmer and dimmer and no escape possible. I stopped going out, I couldn't keep a job, I withdrew from life. I closed down emotionally.
How did you pull out? My family saw what was happening and helped me get therapy and medication that helped me cope. Now, I'm really glad I didn't kill myself. The ordeal ended up making me closer to my family and my friends. It helps to have witnesses to your pain who'll walk with you.
Palmer H.S. student
Have you ever contemplated suicide? Yeah. I never actually planned anything out and I never told anyone about it, but I definitely gave it some thought. I probably would have used a gun because it's quick.
How long ago was this? Earlier this school year.
Are you glad now you didn't do it? I don't know. I guess so. It doesn't really matter. It helps that I'm almost at the end of my senior year.
What was the low point of your life? The fall of 1999. There wasn't anything particularly wrong. It was mostly that there was no point to anything. I was never going to accomplish anything anyway, so why bother?
Colorado College student
Have you ever contemplated suicide? I tried to kill myself when I was 16 years old. I swallowed a jar of Tylenol and a bunch of alcohol.
What drove you to that? I was overwhelmed by problems with my family, my parents, kids at school and a couple close friends who betrayed me. Every day I went to school with a happy face and came home crushed.
Are you glad you didn't kill yourself? Everything considered, I'd say yes. I'd have missed out on a lot of things. I've learned since then that no matter how bad things get, they eventually get better. It's hard to see that when you're really and truly bottomed out.