10 years of a suicide survivor

Even the best fall down sometimes.

Written by Ian Howley


A decade is a long time in anyone’s life. Try and think back to what has happened to you over the last 10 years? Think about all the people you’ve met. Think about all the embarrassing situations you got yourself into. Think about all the people you’ve loved, lost and maybe if you’re lucky, those who are still in your life. On this day 10 years ago (22nd April 2000), I woke up with no feelings. I got up and went to school. Throughout the day I barely spoke to one person, which was normal. School finished, I went home, had my dinner and spent the evening in my bedroom.

This was the day that I was going to take my own life. Previously, I had tried to take my life on two separate occasions. What happened next changed my life forever. Three days after my suicide attempt, I was sitting on my bed looking at myself in the mirror saying to myself “Ian, you’re either going to do this or you’re not.” Moments passed into minutes, minutes passed into hours. By now I was sitting in the dark with nothing but background music playing.

By this stage, I was empty of thoughts and emotions. Suddenly a line in a song caught my attention “I am the person I was looking for…” I began to think again, thoughts such as: who do I want to be? What do I want to be? What do I want to do with my life? I began to realise that the only person who could change my life was me. I realised that no matter how much I blamed everyone else, how much I asked, ‘why me?’ that it was my responsibility to change my life. And so I did. From that moment I moved forward. I tried my best to make a plan for the future. I got a part-time job, made new friends and got myself a new life. Slowly the depression slipped away.

I am me again, nothing like that 16-year-old boy who was looking for a way out, and yet being in that position has made me a much stronger person. I now realise that even the best fall down sometimes and that there’s no need to be ashamed of feeling like that. It’s much stronger to put your hands up and say – yes, I need help! If you would have told me 10 years ago about everything I would achieve and experience, I would have told you that you have the wrong person.

Since that night I have gone to college and got myself a degree. I have won many major awards, including a leadership award and party animal of the year award, been in a television advert, been on the radio and newspapers, been in love three times and out of love three times, dressed up as Mrs. Doubtfire and stole a table from a nightclub, walked into a pole, fell back and knocked over a nun, been to see the Spice Girls Live (the shame), broke my hand falling off a bed (don’t ask), and last but not least, had the courage to say to the world: “Yes, at one point in my life I was down, depressed and looking for a way out, but I’m proud to have overcome it.”

All of the above are memories, memories that I am proud of and some I am not, but they are all memories I have experienced. Memories I would never have experienced if I had carried out my plan on the 22nd April 2000. I have no idea what the next decade will bring but one thing is for sure: no matter what ups and downs I will experience, I know that no matter what comes my way I will never forget where I have come from and what I can achieve. Just take a deep breath and believe that every person has the power to change their lives.

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