Talking About Suicide

Because it's not a taboo

Reading about a runner and attempt survivor

It’s always a kind of relief when I come across someone else who talks openly about a suicide attempt. It’s another chip away at isolation, which lurks way too easily around a subject like this. I know that an untold number of people are talking on anonymous online forums, but for me that lacks a connection.

The latest discovery came last night as I looked through the new issue of Runner’s World. The cover story is about its readers and what running means to them, and it includes a young North Carolina woman. The story says Amanda once locked herself in her college dorm room and took a bottle of Tylenol PM. She passed out but woke up and got herself to a hospital. She calls it her “episode.” The story says she took up running during her recovery and is doing far better now, with a marriage, law studies and one completed marathon. “Running didn’t fix me, but it’s my reward for the difficult and scary work of fighting through my depression,” she says.

I’m glad she said that. I started running a couple of years ago while I was learning that sadness might be something I had to deal with instead of try to ignore. Running sneaked right up on me. One day I decided I needed to make the loop around Central Park and had my boyfriend drop me off at a sporting goods store in my socks. That’s how pressing it was. I bought shoes and headed straight to the park and half ran-, half-walked around.

I wish I could say running has fixed me, but what it did was give me a focus and a way to blow off assorted frustrations. I learned that I felt better, and frankly less guilty, after a run than when I skipped it. Even when a day sucked, there was something fundamentally right about taking care of my body. Running was also a good mix of solitude and socializing, fluid enough for those moments when you’d rather break off and be alone.

Finally, running _ and I don’t know why I’m talking in the past tense, since I’m back at it again _ brought me one of the best days of my life, when I got up from a largely sleepless night and ran the 26.2-mile party known as the New York City Marathon. The crowds really do carry you along. It was the rare experience when I knew, from start to finish, that I was going to do what I set out to do.

We all have something. We just have to find it.

I’m looking for more people to speak with, by the way. Let me know.

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