My name is Mark Ehlert, and I survived a suicide attempt at the age of 19. At that time, I was at a point in my life where I felt lost and hopeless. I came from a very interesting background and I had issues with abandonment and rejection. I felt very betrayed by a lot of people that I thought I could trust. I felt like my world was falling apart around me. Because I felt so unloved, I didn’t know how to talk to people about my problems. Whenever I had a problem with something, I would try to do something drastic to get peoples attention to show them that something was bothering me and that I needed help.
My attempt happened on a night in September. I had a lot of problems and I was really desperate. My head was spinning. That’s when it hit me; this idea of suicide. The more I thought about it, the more it seemed right and it felt like my answer. I went for a walk. I didn’t know where I was going or what I was doing. All I knew was that I was walking. I was having a moment of euphoria. I was laughing hysterically to myself the entire time. For some reason, I really felt like what I was about to do was going to be monumental and the way to show people that I needed help. And that’s when I found myself at my destination. There I was, standing in the middle of the park by myself. After standing there for a while, I started looking around and wondered; Why am I here? What am I doing? And that’s when my voice of reason started to kick in. I started asking myself, really? Is this what you want? Is this what you’re going to do? How is this going to help? I was about to turn around and walk back home, but that’s also when I started feeling lost, desperate and hopeless again. I didn’t want to lose that feeling of euphoria. So with no hesitation, I went through with my suicide attempt.
I didn’t want to die – I just wanted to fix my problems. I didn’t want to leave this world. I wish I would’ve stopped and thought rationally about what I was doing and listened to the voice of reason in my head. I wasn’t thinking clearly and acted impulsively. When you are in a bad place, bad ideas can sound very good and tempting. I was just trying to ask someone to show me that they care. But if I would have succeeded with my suicide attempt, no one would be able to show me that they care or have been able to help me because I would not be here anymore.
Suicide is not an answer. Suicide is a mistake. It is a problem. I have a lot of regrets for my suicide attempt. In that moment, I was forgetting how much people love me. I was destroying and throwing away a great life and I had to start over and rebuild it. My suicide attempt resulted in a significant amount of brain damage and I was put into a coma for a period of time. When I came out of the coma I had to deal with and accept the consequences of my actions. Because of the brain damage that was done, I had to relearn how to do a lot of basic functioning skills. It did enough damage to both of my optic nerves and I am now completely blind for the rest of my life. There is nothing that doctors will ever be able to do to restore my vision. I also now suffer from post traumatic stress disorder and high anxiety.
Over the last 13 years it has taken a very heavy physical and emotional toll on me to be able to rehabilitate myself. I don’t want anyone to ever feel this way. That’s why I am here. I don’t want anyone to ever have to feel this regret, this guilt, this grief, or this pain that I feel daily. It didn’t just affect me. My suicide attempt devastated the people that are close to me; my family and friends. They kept asking themselves what they did wrong and what they could’ve done to stop it. I wish I would’ve stopped and thought about what I was doing. I wish I would have waited an hour or two because that’s when my older brother would have come home from work. Getting support from my older brother would’ve reminded me of the life that I have. It would’ve reminded me of the family and friends that love me unquestionably and unconditionally — and we all have people that love us.
My suicide attempt was a desperate way to reach out to the world and ask someone to show me that they care. I wish I would’ve found the strength in me to reach out and ask for help. I want you all to know that when you are in a very low place, and you are thinking with your irrational mind but don’t ever hesitate to reach out to the world. Talking to someone that cares about you will bring you back to reality and help you start thinking with your wise mind. It will remind you of all the things you have and the people that are there for support.
We all have problems in life, but problems are only temporary. Suicide is permanent. For the rest of my life I have to deal with the repercussions of my suicide attempt. And it’s not worth it, trust me. Suicide is not going to solve any problems. It will only make things worse.
When you are are struggling, you should not be embarrassed or ashamed to ask anyone for help. I wish I would have. We are human beings, no one is perfect. It is more uncomfortable for me to have to admit the fact that I am blind because of a suicide attempt but I am no longer embarrassed about my problems. And I am no longer ashamed to admit that I need help.
Ever since my suicide attempt in 2004, I have been going to therapy once a week. I want you all to do the same thing — when you need help, ask for it. I’m admitting that I’m not perfect and I need help. My therapy is giving me someone to talk to, a way to help me deal with my problems. It is doing wonders for me and I’m a very happy person and in a great place. So please everyone, do what I do; love and appreciate life. Rock on. Don’t ever consider suicide. Never forget that we all have people in our life that love us.
*** Please feel free to share this story as much as you would like. But you do not have my permission for this to be printed or used for profit without my direct consent. I hope that this finds you all well ***
I want to thank you all for taking the time for reading my story. And especially my thanks goes out to Erika’s Lighthouse for allowing me share my story on their blog. I’m a big supporter and very thankful for what they are doing. When I was younger, mental health problems and depression wasn’t something that was talked about enough. I didn’t know how to recognize the signs or know it was a condition I might have. When it was brought up, it seemed to have a negative connotation. It seemed like it was something people didn’t like to talk about which made me even less likely to admit or talk about the problems I was having. It made me feel like it would leave a black Mark on me. But now I know it doesn’t and I can recognize that I have depression and admit that I struggle with mental health issues.
Erika’s Lighthouse is helping me recognize that it’s OK to have mental health problems. I’m not the only one who does. There are a lot of us out there. We are not alone. You are not alone. I don’t want you to feel that way. If you have depression, it doesn’t mean that there is something wrong with you. You should not feel embarrassed about it. It is treatable. If you start to notice depression in yourself, or start to notice signs that you’re not feeling well don’t hesitate to look into it. You don’t have to suffer or deal with depression alone. I have come to love myself, and love my life. So thank you Erika‘s Lighthouse for letting me reach out and share my story with the world. I hope that this can help people understand the importance of depression education and eliminating stigma. To learn more about the Erika’s Lighthouse impactful work visit www.erikaslighthouse.org/schools and help “Get Depression Out of the Dark.”
This blog was written by Mark Ehlert, an individual who survived a suicide attempt. Mark is a musician and an advocate for mental health awareness.