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Step By Step – Rebuilding a Life After a Suicide Attempt

Compliments of: Written by  Sue Martin

At 26 years of age, my life had hit rock bottom. Deeply depressed, I had reached the point where I believed I no longer had options. Placing a loaded gun to my head, I pulled the trigger. There was an explosion and in an instant my world went dark.

I didn’t die, but the failed attempt left me blind. I was still depressed, but now I would have to deal with blindness on top of the depression.

I entered into an intensive program of blind rehabilitation during which I learned new ways of doing almost everything. The process of rehab gave me the confidence to take the first steps forward. As success built on success, I began to rebuild my life. I immersed myself in my rehab program, learning everything from Braille to using a long cane to travel. After completing my formal rehabilitation, I entered the field of blind rehab, obtaining a master’s degree from Western Michigan University a few years later. I worked in the field for more than 20 years, the last five of which I spent at the VA Southeastern Blind Rehabilitation Center in Birmingham, Al. as the subject matter expert for the computer access training section. In 2007, I left the rehab field to take my current position as a VA Section 508 analyst.

I’ve reached a point in my life where I feel I can help others by telling my story. I’ve written a book about my journey, Out of the Whirlpool, a memoir of remorse and reconciliation. Going public with my story is a decision that I will never regret. I have started speaking publicly about what I went through and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive. Again and again people tell me that they have considered suicide, attempted suicide or know someone who is considering suicide.

Over the years I’ve talked at least three people back from the edge of trying to end their lives. I want to offer what I gave those people to anyone who thinks that life is not worth living. There is always hope.

According to the American Association of Suicidology , almost one million Americans attempt suicide each year and nearly five million Americans have a friend, family member, or loved one who has committed suicide. The numbers are staggering.

During National Suicide Prevention Month VA is working with community-based organizations, veterans service organizations, health care providers, private companies and other government agencies to increase awareness of suicide warning signs and risks. VA also is leading an effort to encourage individuals to show their support for Veterans by signing an online pledge at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net to learn the signs of a crisis.

The Veterans Crisis Line, online chat and text messaging services offer free, confidential support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to Veterans and their families and friends. Veterans or anyone concerned about a Veteran may call 1-800-273-8255 and press 1, chat online at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net or text 838255 to receive support.

Since its launch in 2007, the Veterans Crisis Line has answered more than 890,000 calls and made more than 30,000 life-saving rescues. In 2009, the Veterans Crisis Line added an anonymous online chat service and has engaged in more than 108,000 chats. In November 2011, the Veterans Crisis Line introduced a text-messaging service, and has since responded to more than 10,000 texts—providing another way for Veterans to connect with round-the-clock support.

The Veterans Crisis Line encourages Veterans and their families and friends to make the call. People who know a Veteran best may be the first to recognize emotional distress and reach out for support when issues reach a crisis point—and well before a Veteran is at risk of suicide.

To make sure all Veterans and their loved ones are aware of the Veterans Crisis Line, VA is coordinating with communities and partners nationwide to let Veterans and their loved ones know that support is available whenever, if ever, they need it. More information is available at www.VeteransCrisisLine.net and www.mentalhealth.va.gov.

Today I’m married to Jim, my husband of 28 years. My work with the VA Section 508 team is fast-paced and exciting. Instead of the dread with which I faced each new day all those years ago, I now greet each new day in eager anticipation of what I’ll discover.

I am proud of what I’ve made of my life. I’m also extremely grateful to the people who have helped me along the way. I didn’t do it in a vacuum. The important thing, if you feel your life is not worth living, is to talk about it and get help.

Sue W. Martin is a Management Analyst with the VA Section 508 Office where she manages the accessible e-learning project. Sue lives and likes taking long walks with her Seeing Eye Dog, Kismet.


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About Edited by Susan Bainbridge

At age 6, Susan was destined to be a journalist and photographer.  In 1980, Susan founded Bainbridge News and The Bainbridge Chronicle Newspaper. Bainbridge News specializes in Military and National Politics, including Military Funerals and Burials and Political Funerals and Burials.  Susan has covered the White House, the Pentagon and Capitol Hill. She has covered every president from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama. Recognized for her versatility, Susan has also covered finance, crime, civil rights events, marches, sports, musical events and more. In 1990, she established Bainbridge Photography, an On-Location photography company. In addition to military and political events, including Military and Political funerals and burials, Bainbridge Photography expanded into covering ALL funerals and burials, receptions, weddings, real estate, inventory, insurance, portrait, head shot, pets, fire and Hazmat.  Miss Bainbridge believes in going the extra mile. "My Clients always come first." In 1980, Susan began her career in Washington, D.C., working for WMZQ Radio as a reporter and guest hostess from 1980 to 1985. Intrigued by radio, Susan wanted to write, freelancing for radio, television and print newspapers, including AP, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, The Northern Virginia Sun, The Press-Republican and The Bainbridge Chronicle (established by Susan Bainbridge). In 1986, Susan worked at WDCA-TV Channel 20 as a guest hostess for "Eye On Washington." From 1990 to 1994, Susan reported and anchored for "The Arlington Weekly News." Additionally, she produced a segment for the G. Gordon Liddy Radio Show. A prolific writer, while in high school in 1977, Bainbridge wrote an episode for NBC's "Little House on The Prairie" entitled "Laura's Best Friend." Though the show's producers did not use the script then, NBC producers encouraged Susan to pursue a writing and journalism career. Susan is a member of the National Press Club, the National Press Photographer's Association and the Society of Professional Journalists. Susan Bainbridge's recognitions include from former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, former First Lady Nancy Reagan, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, the late actor Lorne Greene, among many others. BAINBRIDGE NEWS was founded in 1980 by Susan Bainbridge (a sixth generation writer), a third generation journalist, a first generation photographer and a fourth generation entrepreneur. She is the first generation to establish a news business. Bainbridge News is dedicated in honor of Miss Bainbridge's late grandfather and idol, Mark S. Watson (The Baltimore Sun editor and war correspondent from 1920 to his death in 1966).

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