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My Sister's Suicide Attempt Saved My Life

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Growing up my sister Randee and I were not close. We had explosive fights all the time. We fought about everything and anything. No matter how hard our parents tried, we didn’t get along. I, being the oldest, always tried to win and get my way.

I grew up and moved away to college. I came back after graduation and found my first real grownup job. I moved out. I was making it seem like I had everything together. In reality, I’d been keeping secrets from my family. I’d been diagnosed with bipolar disorder in college. I coped with my illness with self mutilation and alcohol and drug abuse. In November 2007, I attempted to take my own life.

That first attempt at suicide was just the beginning of a four-year cycle. I attempted suicide several more times. I ended up in the local inpatient psychiatric wards more than 20 times. Throughout it all, I was so busy focusing on me that I never realized my sister had a growing addiction to drugs and undiagnosed mental health issues.

In May 2011, I was sent to a long-term psychiatric residential facility. I lived there for a year. I’d just about given up on everything. I didn’t care about anyone or anything. I didn’t see a future for myself; I felt like I didn’t have anyone on my side. I was not living any type of productive life. In January 2012 I found myself in an inpatient psychiatric facility after attempting suicide again. While there, my therapist Sheryl came to visit me. She basically told me, “This is your last chance. If you keep hurting yourself you will be sent to the state psychiatric hospital.” I honestly didn’t really care. “Whatever,” I said.

During this stay, I got a phone call from my mom. She told me Randee had attempted suicide. Her attempt was serious, and she would be left with permanent brain damage. I felt an overwhelming anguish. I finally experienced what my loved ones had felt every time I tried to hurt myself. I finally got it. I’d spent all those years focused on myself and my issues; I never saw my sister’s pain.

From that moment on, I decided I was going to live. I was no longer going to hurt myself or my family. I was going to take part in my life again. I was going to get better.  In June 2012, I was released from that facility.

Three years later, Randee and I are doing well in both of our respective recoveries. It hasn’t been an easy road for either of us. However, for the first time in our lives, we’re working together in positive ways. And I honestly believe if my sister hadn’t attempted suicide I would not be here right now with her.


If you or someone you know needs help, see our suicide prevention resources.

If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

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Originally published: April 21, 2015
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