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Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

My Own Suicide Attempt(s)

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I was talking with a friend last night when he confided that he’d attempted suicide back when he was a younger man.  That prompted me to confide in him, as well, that I had also attempted suicide…several times.  He was quite surprised to learn that.  Until that revelation, he thought that I was “…just an observer.”  No, Scott, I’m not just an observer.  I’ve got a personal stake in this battle.  Two, actually.  I was brutally beaten in a gay bashing at age 12, too.  So, I know where I’m coming from with these writings.  I’ve been there, done that.  And, I’ve lived to tell about it…to try to help others who are struggling.  See, according to my doctors at the time, I shouldn’t even be here right now.  I was, according to them, only supposed to leave that hospital on a slab with a toe tag.  I’m so glad, now, that they gave my family bad information.

The 80s were a tumultuous time for me, to put it mildly.  I should’ve known that it was going to be a long decade when my closest friend, at that time, was violently snatched away from me on a cold February night.  Got out of my car at 6; gone forever by 7.  It took me until just within the past year to be able to put that in its proper place and move on.  A part of me died that day, as well.graphic reminder

The middle 80s were not so pretty, either.  I lost my mother in 1984.  From there, things just spiraled straight downward.  The summer of ’85, well let’s just say that I wouldn’t wish that on anyone!  So, I’d reached my breaking point.  The only way I could see to end the decade-long pain and hurt was to check out. I saw no reason whatsoever for me to stay on this planet.  However, I’ve always been a pretty smart guy, I guess.  I knew that I didn’t want to make some half-ass attempt and end up in ICU at a local hospital.  That would only make things ten times worse.  No.  I had to make sure that the attempt was thorough enough to not be an attempt, but a success.

I called the local Poison Control Center.  Feigning distress over “my friend” who had just taken a whole bottle of pills and was passed out, I was able to learn from the person on the other end that my “friend”, who just happened to be the exact same size as myself, hadn’t taken enough to kill “him”.  “However, you should get him to a hospital as soon as possible so they can pump his stomach.”  I also was able to find out that, for a person “his” size, it would take TWICE the amount that “he’d” taken.  Bingo!  So, I hung up, went to the store and bought the second bottle of pills.  ICU was NOT an option.  Two days later, I woke up, indeed in ICU.  My family was told that there was “…no way [I’d] make it through this…”, that I “had enough poison in [me] to kill a horse.”  God had other plans.

The second attempt was just a couple of weeks later.  I bought even more pills to go along with the amount that was supposed to be lethal in the first place!  Same results.

Now very determined, I made my third attempt.  I took a tie, made a noose, went to the closet to die.  The tie broke.  I regained consciousness on the closet floor.

Drowning myself didn’t work, either.  Attempting to fill ones lungs with water is quite painful, indeed.  I aborted that one very quickly.

My fifth and final attempt was something I’d seen on television and in movies that was guaranteed to work.  I found myself a syringe and shot an air ball into my veins.  Nothing.  I shot again.  Same results.  And, a third time.  All that came from that was a badly bruised and painful arm.  And, that’s when it dawned on me:  God’s in control.  I accepted that it just wasn’t my time to leave here, that there was something(s) left for me to do.  So, I surrendered.  I didn’t know WHAT it was that I was supposed to do, or learn, or whatever.  I only knew, without a doubt, that I should’ve been dead several times over.  But, I wasn’t.  And, I’m not.

I worked my way through all of the troubles that were mounted before me a little bit at a time.  Not very long after my final suicide attempt, I saw someone who inspired me to pick up a guitar and learn to play it.  That evolved into me eventually releasing my first CD, “Better Late Than Never”, which is now being listened to around the world.  I’m currently working on a second CD, with a third one to be recorded with my band shortly thereafter.

But, that wasn’t enough.  That was something that was part of the bigger picture, the book that would be my life, but it wasn’t enough.  There was something more I was supposed to be doing.

I’ve always been a writer.  Poems and short stories from an early age; lyrics as I grew older.  And, my writing has always gotten attention.

I’ve always been greatly concerned about the issue of gay teen suicide.  It’s nothing new to me.  I’d seen it as a younger man.  Of course, it was never listed as a “gay teen suicide”.  Wrong era for that.  But, I could tell.  I could read between the carefully crafted lines of the news article and be able to see that our community had lost yet another one.  I started writing about it in some of the songs I would write.  No one outside of my fan base really paid attention to them.

In October of this year, something happened that changed my life forever.  I found my true voice!  I found out why He didn’t take me away when I so desperately wanted to, and tried to!, 26 years ago.  Sadly, it took the suicide of Jamie Hubley, a gay youth whom I never knew, to awaken me to my true purpose here:  to use my voice, through my writing, to try and save some lives.  To be on the frontline in this army to bring about change.

I’ve learned a lot through this journey.  I’ve learned that I’m not going to reach everybody.  For all of my efforts, somewhere in the world we’ve lost another one since I started writing this entry.  I’ve learned that the buzzword for today’s gay youth really is true:  It DOES Get Better.  We just have to allow ourselves time to live it.  I’ve learned that life isn’t always fair.  It can be awful brutal at time.  But, it’s a spectacular ride.

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Written by Ron Kemp

December 11, 2011 at 8:36 am

3 Responses

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  1. Thank you for sharing your testimony. I always find it amazing how God is always in control even in the times that we think we are the ones in control.
    God is so loving and expresses his plans in such loving ways.

    virtuos and beautiful

    December 11, 2011 at 9:29 am

  2. That was an amazing revelation, Ron. Made me think of the story of the hymn “Amazing Grace”, written by a former slave ship captain who realized that God had other plans for him besides hurting others, which, is really just an extension of hurting yourself.

    I’ve been thinking about this a lot, too, lately. I have a daughter who is seven, who will not only be entering her teen years soon enough, but dealing with autism as well. We’re able, right now, to almost completely protect her from bullying by controlling her environment, but that bubble bursts a lot sooner than we’ll be ready.

    I barely survived my teen years, also. The weird kid in elementary school who wouldn’t play with others, bullied a little. Tried bullying, too, and (Thank You, God) gave it up quickly. Bullied in junior high to the point I refused to go. Suffered from OCD in high school. Never knew how to mesh. Got angry and alienated everyone in college.

    You’ve seen my debates on Facebook with my right wing friends. And they are friends, despite being wrong all the time. Recently two of my friends (who have never met) got into it on one of my Facebook posts when she called him a “bigot.”

    Bigot is a strong term. My dad grew up in Atlanta in the thirties, he saw things that chill MY blood seventy years later. I had to really think about it. Is my right wing friend a bigot?

    Sure he is. But, then again, so am I. The man who wrote “All men are created equal” owned slaves, but he also wrote about not requiring a group of men to live “forever under the code of their barbarous ancestors.”

    In 1964 Dr. King wrote a book called “Why We Can’t Wait” and I think we have to think that way now, too. It isn’t enough for gay people to take a stand here, straight people have to take a stand here as well. Watching the old newsreels, it seems like only a handful of whites marched with Dr. King. It was difficult, and frankly dangerous to take that stand back then. In all honesty it’s a lot easier to take a stand here. But from where I sit, (safely in front of my computer, thank you very much) it’s just as important.

    Jason from Shady Grove

    December 11, 2011 at 10:13 am


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