Suicidal thoughts

For those who have been browsing through my website you may have read “My Story”, which brings everyone up to speed with my life before I undertook this big challenge. For those just tuning in, weeks before I started my first company, I made an attempt on my own life.

Before then and since then I have lost friends to suicide and others have had close calls like mine.

I have never really felt ashamed of my attempt. It’s another part of my story that I’m alive to share.

Recently, many people in Hollywood have made the decision to end their lives – Robin Williams, Anthony Bourdain, Chester Bennington, and this follows a long history of people, such as Marilyn Munroe and Kurt Cobain, living lives that we envy.

Attempted suicide was a way of getting off my arse and taking control of the factors in my life I wasn’t happy with.

John and winéGive me the strength to change the things I can not accept, accept the things I cannot change and the wisdom to know the difference.” This is truly how I’ve lived since and most around me can attest to that through both their praise and their criticism as I beat my own path. My response to their praise and criticism is the one part I have control over.

Over the last six years I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Zambia and Kenya helping with children’s medical services in some of the most impoverished communities on the planet. They are fighting for their lives and rights. But they don’t have to fight suicide, not in comparison to my home country, Australia.

In fact, Australia’s suicide rate is double these countries combined http://worldpopulationreview.com/countries/suicide-rate-by-country/.

In the so-called lucky country we had suicide rates of around 12 per 100,000 people per year, compared to Zambia’s and Kenya’s of just 6. Our closet neighbour, Indonesia, has less than 3 per 100,000.

How can these countries experiencing so much poverty, hardship, conflict and challenges still fight through, finding happiness against all odds?

At first I felt guilty that I even attempted suicide compared with their hardship and seeing how much these people valued the opportunity to live – the gift, the privilege.

I became curious. How can these people have more desire to live than us in Australia when our lives seem so much “easier”?

I’m no psychologist, I’m not a Rhodes scholar so I don’t know the answers, but I will share with you how it changed the way I think.

John and friendsI started to challenge what happiness meant for me, what success meant for me, and how I value myself and compare myself to others. When my Kenyan and Zambian friends look at life the challenge was not who is living better, it’s who is living. Living and beyond was praised, used as a beacon of hope and inspiration to the many others around them looking for light.

Religion, entrepreneurship, athleticism, all excel in impoverished committees, because the tall poppies were not cut down like they are in the place I grew up – they are held up as beacons of hope.

I have had suicidal thoughts since that last attempt over 10 years ago, but never really taken steps like I did on that day. These are the things that keep me safe:

  • Try to not judge myself on the likes I receive, the judgment, the awards, the criticism, the break ups, the new loves, the financial ups and downs.
  • Show myself that money is not the key to my happiness
  • Define success differently – to survive, to experience, to see, to feel
  • Create opportunities to taste, love, laugh, cry, live
  • Share my experiences with whoever wants to listen and hear the stories of whoever wants to share.

No matter who you are or where you’re from, sharing your story makes every other person listening or reading feel less alone, less weird and more human.

If you can’t share your story in the comments below, share it with me: john@johnelliott.com.au

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2 comments
  • levi
    Posted on September 13, 2018 at 4:20 am

    A very moving piece John!

    That took guts

    Reply
  • Corey
    Posted on November 8, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    A great insight of life I all so have attempted before your a great man John

    Reply

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