My Response to the TED Talk Post: “Real Advice for Suicide Attempt Survivors” by JD Schramm

Compassionate Love: Displaying Compassion for Those Who Struggle with Mental Illness or Abuse  (c)2019 Nancy Virden, Always The Fight Ministries

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There are people who like to keep life lessons to themselves. Others want to confine them within family ranks. A few will share publicly in limited spaces. Probably we find reasons to do each depending on what a particular life lesson is about.

Then there are those of us compelled to pass along epiphanies and hard-knocks wisdom  out of passion for helping others to protect themselves. There is often a steep price to pay for such openness and honesty, yet we yearn for opportunities to reach out. Some might name this a calling.

In a 2014 post on TEDblog, TED Talks speaker JD Schramm shares 15 life lessons that help suicide attempt survivors save their own lives. Almost half of suicide deaths are people who attempted previously. Thankfully, nine out of ten suicide attempt survivors do not go on to die by suicide.

One of Schramm’s suggestions is to wait until trust has been firmly established before sharing one’s entire experience with attempted suicide. He said many people do not want to hear about all the details. That is an understatement in my opinion.

It is doubtful any suicide attempt survivor is in the let-me-tell-you-about-the time-when business for the sheer fun of it. Schramm waited eight years to bring his story to the general public. Another man I met held back for almost 20 years. Sometimes I wish I had been quiet.  No one can rightfully assume I enjoy telling my story. No, it is painful and stinky like digging up a dead horse.

Still, that calling…

I learned it is vital to set an example of openness regardless my discomfort. It is only in this atmosphere that some people who are facing great fear and impassioned distrust will begin to think that maybe, they too can find safety in reaching out for help. Secrets kill. Truth saves.

Schramm made a particular point in his blog that is so meaningful, it deserves oft-repeated quotation. While I challenge his use of the word fail  (it is never failure to survive), the value in this statement outweighs Schramm’s terminology.

“…19 out of 20 people who attempt suicide will fail — and those that make the difficult decision to come back to life need openness from their loved ones and a lot of resources.” (italics mine)

The difficult decision to come back to life – yes, that is real.  I call it my resurrection.  Choices to breathe again, move again, talk and laugh again are hard to make. Doctors of any kind cannot force a person to find a reason to live.  Discovery may take months or come intermittently over years.

Finally, I want to briefly add to two of Schramm’s points. He mentioned “Cultivate sacred places,” and “Find a caring community.”

As a Christian believer, one who sincerely places her trust in the one and only Son of God Jesus Christ, the most sacred place is in my heart. Cultivating that through intentional prayer and saturation in the Bible, I find more peace and joy than anywhere else.

This ties in to finding a caring community. Extremely caring people may not be able to understand our journey upward if they have never traveled so far down. Even in church this is true.  I’m learning to accept whatever support that caring people offer, as complete gifts lacking nothing.  It is all they have, and gave it to me.

*I encourage you to read JD Schramm’s post at:


John 16:13-15

(Jesus, describing the Holy Spirit)

“…when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”



NOTE:  I am not a doctor or mental health professional, and speak only from personal experiences and observations. In no way is this website intended to substitute for professional mental or behavioral health care.

If you are feeling suicidal, or concerned about someone who is, in the U.S. call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or for a list of international suicide hotlines, go here.

If you are suicidal with a plan, immediately call 911 in the U.S. or go to your nearest emergency room. (for international emergency numbers, go here ). Hope and help are yours!


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