Forty-one. No, this is not the number of points the Seahawks scored. It is not the name of some new television show. The number 41 holds a much darker meaning. It is the percentage of transgender individuals, at some time in their life, that have attempted suicide.
Just last month, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention together with The Williams Institute released a study Suicide Attempts among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults. I would love to say that in this eighteen page report that the numbers surprised me - but I would be lying.
The numbers are a stark and horrifying reminder that there are far too many transgender people across all ethnic, economic, and social categories that have reached a point in their life that suicide seemed like the only viable solution.
In many of my posts, I break down the numbers to bring home the severity of the issues that are so important to the trans community. I also have not hidden the fact that I myself suffer from depression and that suicidal thoughts have plagued me for most of my life.
I don’t say this to gain pity or attention. This really is the last part of my life I really want to think about, let alone share with the world. I do this so that those few or even the one that might read this will feel less alone. I do this so that that one person that reads this will know that even a person of faith, someone with a relationship with God, can reach a depth so low that you just can not see out of it.
I know all too well those depths. I know all to well that someone can think that taking your last breath is the only answer. I know all to well the emptiness, the sadness, the isolation, the pain that can lead someone to just give up. There are more nights that I can remember that I just didn’t want to wake up in the morning – hoping that some how, some way I would just slip quietly into the darkness.
But this month marks a point in my life that I only a few know about and no one knows the details.
Last February, shortly after writing the blog on depression, I tried to take my own life.
There have been times in the past where I had sat in a parking lot staring at a jar of pills or walked a forest preserve on the banks of Mississippi looking for a place where no one would find my body. When I have gotten to that point in the past, thoughts of my parents or my kids bring me back from the edge.
But this time was different. My body and mind were numb. Circumstances in my life had overwhelmed me more than ever before. I had lost the will to care even one more micro ounce. I knew there might be people that would mourn me for a short time, but felt no one would truly miss me.
That night, as I stood in that shower with the hot water raining down on me, all I could think about was watching the blood drain out of me. It was my hope to just slip quietly away.
Needless to say, my attempt was not successful. I ended up getting physically sick at the sight of my own blood that was now flowing down the drain. The vein I had punctured had blown and now I was left with a huge hematoma on my hand.
Realizing I had failed, I dried off, got dressed, I bandaged my hand, took a couple Benadryl and then laid down to drift off to sleep.
The days following the attempt were filled with mix emotions. Part of me was feeling like a failure for not succeeding and another part couldn’t believe what had happened. It almost felt like a dream, yet I had the wound and bruise on my hand to remind me that is all too real.
From the beginning, I have done my best to be open and honest about who I am and the personal struggles and joys transgender women like myself can face. Being honest means that I have to be vulnerable and share some of the darkness.
Forty-one percent is no joke and I can share numbers all day long, but they can be meaningless unless you see the people behind the numbers.
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