By Vinnette Perez 

Friedrich Nietzsche stated, “What does not kill me makes me stronger.” [1]

If that is true, then reversing a conscious decision to die makes you unstoppable!

Being bullied had become a way of life, but I recall an account that sent my eighth grade peers into a bullying frenzy. One thought, stated under my breath but overheard by a classmate, ruined my chances of being in anyone’s inner circle. The statement was not meant in malice. In fact, the statement was only intended for me to vent to myself, but it was received in error by a close listener’s ears. The aftermath of that one personal statement painted me as a “better than you” arrogant classmate who was soon shunned by everyone in my graduating class. The experiences that followed started a chain of fire that could not be quenched.

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My classmates had the upper hand and influence. Regardless how many times the rumors were denied, they continued to spread. There was name-calling and avoidance by anyone who did not wish to suffer the same fate. I trudged through the first half of the school year wondering if this treatment would ever end.

Eventually, by some twist of fate at the end of the semester, classmates began to socialize with me again. I talked and joked with friends in a manner that would never suggest being a social outcast four months earlier. The relief was welcomed for several weeks until a totally unrelated event materialized – an exam. Passing this exam would allow me to enter high school and create a new social life. Failing this exam would undoubtedly commit me to ridicule 10 times worse than what had just been experienced. At the age of 13, understanding the social fate that was escaped and the possibility of facing ridicule again was not an option. Death was preferred to living like that again and the stress of possibly failing this exam loomed over me until it could no longer be tolerated; one night I decided to go to sleep and never wake up again.

Awakening the next morning confirmed that learning how to deal with life was the only appropriate course of action, regardless of how uncomfortable it may be. I was afraid to face the things that led me to make a decision to end my life in the first place, but started to live life one day at a time, instead of stressful months at a time.

Here are five things that I learned from an attempted suicide:

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1. Ending one’s life is not the best solution to any problem. Suicide does not end pain and suffering; it amplifies pain and suffering. It strips loved ones of an opportunity to help you and leaves them with the agony of knowing that they can never help you again. It robs people of the chance to learn empowerment skills, become champions of their own lives and to encourage others to do the same.

2. Be honest with yourself. This is an opportunity to really understand the difference between wanting your life to end and wanting the pain to end. In many cases, people who consider committing suicide just want the pain to stop and would prefer to live a happier life.

3. The best way to address your pain is to seek help. Shockingly, today people still believe that seeking help to deal with depression and suicidal thoughts is a sign of weakness. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most important thing that I neglected to do when I considered taking my own life was not reaching out to anyone. I kept everything to myself and this only made me feel more isolated than my external environment was projecting onto me. Seek help by telling those whom are closest to you about your feelings and seek professional help so that you can obtain some guidance on how to develop habits to ward off the doldrums and stress.

4. Start developing habits right now to ward off stress and depression. You MUST do something that you enjoy regularly in order to keep your spirits up. Taking care of others and neglecting yourself sub-consciously puts you into the “unworthy” category. You MUST esteem yourself enough to give yourself what you want. This concept is not selfish; it is necessary for your self-preservation.

5. Think about an ideal day, not right now. It is very easy to focus on how you are feeling when you are in an emotional trough. Feeling low is a strong indicator to switch tracks and start thinking about the things that you really want to do in life. The ultimate step is to not postpone living the life that you want to live, but to live that life everyday. It is your life and no one can live it better than you.

My story has a happy ending. I passed the exam, finished the eighth grade in the top 10% of my class and also in each of my collegiate alma maters. I became a scholar and intern at top academic and medical institutions in the country, married my Prince Charming, lived on three different continents, travelled to 15 different countries and now I encourage people everyday to live their dreams and not waste a day saving their dreams for “one day… ”

You are reading these words because a failed attempt at suicide prompted me to change my outlook on life. I write as a survivor who has experienced life after cancelling my commitment to death! Choosing to live has allowed me to engage in incredible experiences that would have been non-existent if I had succeeded in taking my life. Hopefully, this article inspires you to live, hope and know that even though you may experience something that seems too difficult to live through, accepting the challenge to live will only make you stronger. Choose life, share your story and help bring someone else back to life after death.

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