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Rebecca Juro

is a suicide attempt survivor.
this is her story

Rebecca Juro

is a suicide attempt survivor.

"I survived a suicide attempt."

I interviewed Rebecca Juro in Philadelphia, PA, on June 2, 2016. She is a freelance journalist, and she was 54 years old at the time of interview.

When I was very young, like five, six years old, I started to figure out differences between boys and girls.

I figured out that what I really wanted was to be a girl. Now, of course, when I was five years old—it was 1967—there was no such thing. The word transgender hadn’t been coined. I was a special ed child. They just thought, “Well, this strange little boy is never happy.” Nobody understood why. It was one of these things—it wasn’t something that was accepted, and it wasn’t really something I could wrap my mind around. My mind wasn’t sophisticated enough. You hear these kids today and they come out and say, “I’m a girl.” I had nothing to base it on. There was nothing else, no social acceptance, no Internet, none of that stuff. I just learned that this would not win the approval from my parents and teachers, and I kept it very quiet. Then I grew into a teenager and I still felt the same way. Nothing changed, I just grew up. I felt like the way to deal with it was to fix myself, to masculinize myself. I became very attracted to punk rock. The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, Joan Jett, and all this stuff. I became a raging asshole, basically. My mother finally couldn’t tolerate it anymore, threw me out of the house, and sent me to live with my father in Manhattan, which was a huge, huge mistake. My father was never around. He was a business man. He was an advertising guy. He worked on Madison Avenue. He used to say that he refused to watch Mad Men because he lived it. He was on that level.

He was on the road all the time. I was at home, living at our apartment on the Upper East Side. I did a lot of drugs. I was going to shows every night. I was a complete asshole. At one point, I was dealing. I used to be a pot dealer when I was about eighteen years old. In fact, I actually got thrown out of my father’s apartment when he came home one night with a date and I was breaking up a quarter pounder of herb on the kitchen table.

I wound up living on the Upper East Side in what they used to call an SRO—a single room only hotel—like Sid Vicious, the Chelsea Hotel, that kind of thing. That’s what I did for about six months. I worked as a phone sales person and a survey taker. That’s what I did. I basically had three different jobs I went to from time to time. I made like ninety, ninety-five dollars a week. My rent was ninety. I would go and cut coupons from McDonalds out of the newspapers. You know, get free french fries and things like that. That’s what I did. That’s how I survived when I was eighteen years old. I was literally a trash picker. There was also a place called Gray’s Papaya in New York.

Des: Best drunk hotdogs ever.

Rebecca: Yes. And in those days, you could get two hotdogs and a papaya drink for a dollar. That was my dinner more nights than I could count. Whenever I had a dollar. That was my life. And I was doing a lot of drugs. I had a friend who was also from New Jersey. He was another fuck up, in a different way. He wasn’t a punk rocker; he was into Pink Floyd and stuff like that. He managed to get thrown out of his place. He was in a different SRO hotel, so we wound up hanging out. Turned out later on that the hotel he lived in was the same hotel Billy Idol, who was a young, unknown rockstar at the time, was living in. Nobody knew. We never saw him or anything, but he apparently was there. We used to hang out and I used to spend some time with him and go downtown and do lots of drugs. It was also, at that point, where I discovered Joan Jett. Joan Jett was a big deal for me, because I was still dealing with the transgender thing. Although, of course, I didn’t know to call it transgender at that point. The word still hadn’t been coined. I was still into the punk. I wore black leather. I did certain things to like, secretly feminize myself. I wore eyeliner—some guys wore eyeliner, some didn’t. I chose to do it. Usually girls were the ones who put buttons on their jackets. I did that. Things like that that weren’t overt, but were private little signals to myself. Still, I was really depressed. There were a couple of times, when I was doing meth and a few other really nasty things like PCP, where I was sitting there with a card with like, a bunch of shit on it and saying, “Well, if I do this much, I’ll kill myself. Would that really be such a bad thing? Who’s gonna miss me?” Somehow, I managed to talk myself out of it every time and scrape off about half of it and just send myself into la la land for eight hours, instead of the emergency room. Never quite got to the emergency room, but I think I came close a few times. That’s what I was doing. I liked being a punk, and I was into being a punk, because I felt like it was my way to the future. But it didn’t stop the feelings that I also wanted to be a girl. I didn’t know how to reconcile those two things, because I came from a culture in New Jersey where all the girls were wearing the cowl neck sweatshirts and the horse-blanket skirts and the cowboy boots. That was the culture I came from, that’s what women were to me at that point. That’s what it was. That’s who was there. Most of the punks that I knew were guys, because that’s who showed up for the shows. Most of the chicks, you saw pictures of these girls, they wound up backstage or they were from LA… there weren’t a lot of women at these shows. I was depressed. I got to the point where I was looking for excuses to kill myself. I was trying to rationalize it to myself. The day after my nineteenth birthday, I wanted to go out. It was the first time I was going to be able to legally drink. I called this girl who I knew from years ago and I said, “Let’s go see a show. I don’t care who. As long as they serve beer and it’s rock and roll, that’s really all I care about.” I went through the local music paper and I said, “Oh, look. Joan Jett and the Black Hearts. Well, how bad could it be?” I’d just heard “Bad Reputation,” which was her first kinda-sorta hit at the time, on the radio. I thought, “Well, that’s a good song. How bad could it be? It’s good enough, the song kicks, and there’s a bar and a club, they serve beer, and that’s all I give a shit about.” I go into Queens, I pick her up. We go to the show. In those days, I was a club novice. The tickets say 7:00. I assume that means the show starts at 7:00. Wrong. We get there, go in, have a beer, and the first of the openers comes on—some no-name local band that nobody knew or was very good—and that was the first of five opening bands. By the time 2:00 A.M. rolls around, the last of the opening bands has gone off, and she still hasn’t come on stage. We have been standing here now, getting drunk, and just watching all these bands, for almost six hours. At one point, she says to me, “I’m hot, I’m tired, I want to go home.” I say, “You know, I’m kinda hot and tired, too.” The guy who is standing next to us says, “No, no, no. You can’t leave.” I say, “Why not?” He says, “No, you don’t understand. You can’t leave. She’s awesome.” I’m like, “Well, but…” He’s like, “Look. If I buy you both a beer, will you stay for at least the first few songs? Like, I’m telling you, it’s worth it. Trust me.” I’m like, “Well, I’m willing to be talked into it.” I look over at her, and she says, “Yeah, alright.” That’s really what we were there for. We were there to drink and watch rock and roll. So he goes, he gets us the beer. As he comes up with beer, the lights go out, she comes on stage. I see this woman in black leather, screaming, going crazy on stage, and my mouth is hanging open. Literally, because it was the moment when I said, “I don’t want to be like her, but there’s a way to figure this out. I don’t know what it is, but there’s a way to figure this out.” I literally spent the first four or five songs with my mouth hanging open. Then, the girl I’m with says again, “I’m hot, I’m tired, I want to go home.” I’m like, “One more song.” I one-more-songed her through the entire show. Finally, the show ends and everybody goes and lets out. We go outside and see that people are gathering because she’s gonna come outside and sign. I wanted to go and check it out, and my friend’s like, “It’s four in the morning. We’re going home.” I said, “Okay.” I really should have stayed, because they were selling albums literally out of the back of their car. It was the first pressing of Bad Reputation.

Des: I have a shitty copy somewhere of the Runaways record.

Rebecca: Yeah. It’s like, the original Blackheart Records pressing. If I bought one of those, it would be worth a couple hundred dollars. Anyway, that got me to the point where I was temporarily not suicidal for a few years. I was still doing plenty of drugs, I was still an asshole, but I could deal with it. I had a few relationships here and there, because I was young, I was pretty muscular, girls liked me. At that age, I was highly motivated to be likable to girls. I was kind of struggling with, “I want to be a girl, but I also want regular sex.” I was kind of allowing myself to drift in that direction. That’s what it was. Eventually, I moved back to New Jersey because I got to the point where the drugs were [too much]. I was broke, I had no money. I was a fucking drug whore is what I was. I said, “I have to stop this.” The punk movement was winding down. It was like 1984 and there was still punk stuff going on but the the height of it was tamping down. It was on its way out. So I moved back to New Jersey; I moved back to my mother’s house and basically did a whole lot of nothing for a lot of years. I worked in warehouses, I did retail, I worked cash registers, I loaded trucks. I did whatever I could do just to distract myself. It was ten years of distraction. Then I got to a point where I was thirty-five. It was 1997. The transgender stuff was starting to kick in again because, at this point, the word “transgender” was coined, and I discovered the internet. I realized, “Oh wow, there are people who do this.” That changed my whole outlook because I was like, “I can do this. This is doable. This is not a fantasy, people actually live this life.” Once I realized that, that changed my whole perspective. At first, it was like, “Well, this is who you are and just deal with it.” Now it’s like, “No, you don’t have to be this way. There’s another path, there’s another way to deal with it.” Over the years, I’ve become very good at personal misdirection. In other words, I had become very good at not dealing with stuff I didn’t want to deal with. Once I realized that there was a way to deal with this, that there was a path I could take if I wanted it, I became very depressed. My belief at the time was that, if I did this—because I had a very macho cultivated image—I believed that I would lose all my friends, my family wouldn’t speak to me, and that would be it. My life would be over. I’d be all alone and on the street. So I just kept going. What I would do is, I lived my male life during the day and at night I was on the internet. This is back in the days of AOL dial-up. My brother was a computer science major so we had an internet hookup in the house from the very earliest days. I used to go on literally all night just looking up transgender stuff. That’s all I did. I did that for about a year—for most of 1996, into ’97. I reached a point in about April where I was like, “I can’t do this anymore. I’m done. I can’t do this! I can’t live as a guy when I know there’s another option. I’m terrified. I hate the life I’m living and I’m terrified of this other life, so what do I do? Well, you can’t do anything, so what do you do?” I played with that in my head for awhile and eventually I said, “I’m done. I’m just done. Fuck it! I’m done!” I was working as a messenger, driving this van. I had this route that I used to take every day. On this route was a short girder bridge in Princeton, New Jersey. One day, I went and made my first stop. I had to cross this bridge in order to get to my second stop. The bridge, what it did was, if you let go of the wheel, it would drag you towards the right, so that’s what I did. The minute my back wheels got on the bridge, I let go of the wheel. The van drifted over. The right side mirror of the van hit the bridge and slammed it into the passenger side window. Glass went everywhere. I grabbed the wheel and pulled away without even thinking about it. I just did it. I didn’t think about it because I was ready. I was like, “This is it. I’m done.” I grabbed it, pulled away, and saved myself. I have no doubt that another half second, at most, and I would have absolutely been seriously messed up, if not dead. I drive to the other end of the bridge. There’s a little dirt patch at the other end of the bridge. I pull over, put the van in park, and collapse. I started uncontrollably weeping. I was doing that for five or ten minutes, just sitting there covered in glass just with my head in my hands. I finally got out of the car. I brushed myself off and shook the shit out of my hair. I stood there for about several minutes. Basically, what was going on in my head was, “Alright. So, that didn’t work. What do I do now?” There’s only one other option. If I can’t bring myself to end it all, I have to try this other option. I have to see if this is going to work. If it doesn’t, I can always try again later. That really was my logic. I was like, “If I’m right and everybody turns their backs on me, I can always go buy a gun or something and deal with it later, but let’s see if I can have the courage.” I finished my rounds and brought the van back. I lied to my boss and I told him a rock from a truck hit the window. I went at lunchtime to this Barnes & Noble. I went into the Gay and Lesbian section, ’cause I had no idea what the hell I was looking for. I found a book by Leslie Feinberg, which was a book on transgender history. Oh god, I can’t remember the name now! Shit!

Des: The only one of hers I’ve read is Stone Butch Blues.

Rebecca: No, that was a novel. This was an actual transgender history book. I have it at home. I have it at the house. She signed it for me. I got to meet Leslie, which was kind of cool. In any case, I went and bought this book. It was the only thing that looked even marginally relevant. Everything else was gay love and lesbian relationships and, you know, that’s great! It had nothing to do with what I was looking for at the time. I bought this book and I started reading it at lunch time. I was terrified somebody might find this thing, so I kept it in my car under my seat. Every day at lunch, I would go buy lunch, sit in my car, and read. Basically, what this book taught me was, not only do people do this, but there’s a long history of people doing this, and there are people who exist now who are doing this. There’s activism and there’s all kinds of things. What happened was, I took the information I found in this book and I started utilizing it. [I was] looking to track people down and see if they were real. I thought, “Let’s see if I can find some of them.” I was doing the investigative journalism thing. The first person I wrote to was Leslie, and Leslie wrote back. That led me to other people. Riki Wilchins and Nancy Nangeroni and a lot of these people who… the only way to find these people at that time was through the internet. There was no Facebook. There was no Twitter. None of that shit was around. What we had was chat rooms and Yahoo! email lists. I got on a couple of those, and those were heavily politicized. All of it, politics. I started getting into the politics of it. Coming from the punk movement, where everything was anti-Reagan, I had developed an affinity for that. I started writing. Bear in mind, at this point, nobody knew except me. This is all going on on the internet. I did not come out to my parents. I hadn’t come out to my friends. None of it. I hadn’t started dressing yet. I was living a double life, and I did that for about a year. Over the course of that year I decided, “Obviously, I need to see a shrink. There’s nothing that’s going to happen until I see a shrink.” The first thing I did was I went and looked in one of these magazines that I had found. There was an advertisement for a guy that was about an hour ride from me. I drive out one day to meet this guy and I sit down with him for about forty-five minutes. I tell him my story and where I’m going. I tell him basically, “I think I’m a transsexual.” I said, “I think that’s what I am. Everything I’ve read confirms, yeah, that’s me.” This guy says, “Oh, yeah. You’re not a transsexual. You’re a transgenderist.” I’m thinking to myself, “What the fuck is a transgenderist?” This is not a word I’d ever heard. I heard the word transgender but I’d never heard transgenderist—I mean, what is that? Is that a cross-dresser? What is that? He couldn’t give me a straight answer. What he did give me was an organization called Reniassance, which was a very early transgender organization. I don’t know if they’re still around but they publish newsletters and videos and shit like that. He gave me a bunch of their newsletters and I took them home. At that point, I wrote him a check. I said to myself, “This is not somebody I’m ever going to be seeing again ’cause this guy’s an asshole.” You wonder where a lot of my attitude about psychologists come from? This is part of it. I go home and start reading through these newsletters and I find an ad for a woman who is much closer to home. I think, “Okay, let’s give this one a try. It’s less of a drive.” So I go to this woman. Turns out that she’s a short Israeli, Yemenite, dark-skinned lady with a thick, thick accent. I’m like, “Oh boy, this is going to be fun.” I’m all ready for a fight. I tell her, “Okay, I’m a transsexual.” I’m waiting for her to argue with me and she says, “Okay, so what do you want to do about it?” I totally wasn’t ready for that. Upshot is I wound up working with this woman for six years. She said, “I host these events at my house every weekend. I want you to come.” Saturdays and Sundays, they have trans people just to socialize and hang out. And I did! For the next year, from ’97 into ’98, I had a double life. This time I actually dressed the part. I had this huge duffel bag which I kept in the trunk of my car. It had all my makeup and all this stuff, which I was able to get through people who knew people who knew people. That’s what I did. I did this double life thing. I told one person: my best friend. I told her what was going on. By this point, other friends were noticing stuff was going on. They were like, “What the fuck is going on with you? You disappear for days at a time and nobody knows where you are.” Finally, ’98 into ’99, I began the process of coming out and telling people. I started to dress on a regular basis. I didn’t do it a lot in public, but I would go to [the shrink’s place]. I would go there and hang out. Occasionally, we would go to a restaurant and occasionally we would go to a club. I think it was ’99 when a friend and I who were transitioning at the same time wanted to go full-time. We made a pact with each other. We went to a show—Limp Bizkit and Sevendust—which are kinda heavy. It was our last show as guys. We went as guys. Two weeks later we went to our first show as girls. I was dressed in black spandex, black leather, and the whole nine yards. She was, bear in mind, six foot four, prison guard, built like a tank. The two of us go to this thing. Neither one of us have any clue how we’re going to be received. Either we’re going to have a great time or we’re going to get killed. Nobody knows. We go and wait in line. Now, this is January, cold as fuck, and I’m wearing spandex. It’s like biting cold. It’s freezing. We finally get into the club and we look around and there’s a whole area with trans women. I’m like, “There, the girls! Oh shit, look at this!” It was a big deal. We wound up hanging out. In fact, I’m meeting her again soon. We’re going to go see Joan in September. We haven’t seen each other in ten years, so we’re gonna go hang out.

Des: That’s awesome.

Rebecca: Yeah, which is kinda cool. So, that’s the thing. Once I got past the point of that day with the van, I’ve had suicidal thoughts a lot, but I’ve never gotten to the point where I’ve actually attempted. That was my first and only. I kinda count the drugs as sort of an attempt. It was the kind of thing where, if I wanted to do it for real, I could have. Easily. Sniff, sniff, I would’ve been done. That attempt kinda solidified things for me because it was my fork in the road. It was like, you either do this, or you try again because there’s no other option. That’s where I was. I was at the point where, if I can’t live the way I want to live, then I don’t want to live, because what’s the point? I didn’t have a direction at that point in my life. I was just kinda going along. Like I said, working in warehouses and no college degree, nothing. Now I write. I do all these things because I wound up developing a passion for [the activism], and the community welcomed me when I was at that point. It was like I gained an all new set of friends. If I hadn’t got that, if I wound up alone as I had feared… I did lose a couple of friends. A couple of my older friends, who were not so progressive, couldn’t deal with it and they walked. One of them, actually, I reconnected with a couple years ago. We hadn’t seen each other in almost twenty years. At the time, they couldn’t handle it. It was the 90’s and it was not a thing yet. One of them even said, “If all you were was gay, I could deal with that.” That’s the kind of attitude that people had at the time. I got into the journalism, being an activist, and doing this radio show because it was my way of saying, “Well, this is what I can do to help. This is how I can help.” I learned enough so that I didn’t feel like I was an idiot, like I knew as much as anybody else did. Once I was able to do that, I got in at the point where there really weren’t many people. There weren’t many transgender journalists. Now we’re a dime a dozen. There’s all these kids who are doing this stuff now, but those days? There was no such thing. Nobody knew transgender kids. It was all people my age. It was people in their thirties and forties, and it was all girls. The trans guys you could count on the fingers of one hand because these guys would go and take hormones, their voices were deep, their hairlines would recede, they’d grow beards and mustaches, and they would just fade into society because that’s what they wanted. They would disappear. There were a few exceptions: Ethan St. Pierre and Jamison Green and a few others. But, basically, these guys wanted to live their lives quietly, and that’s what they did for the most part. And it was all white girls, mostly. It was. Maybe part of it was casual racism. Now it’s much different. I ended up being one of the first trans bloggers. I teamed up with somebody, and we did the first ever trans Internet radio show. “First ever” because nobody had thought of it at that point. Internet radio was barely in its infancy. We were terrible. We were awful. We really were. Neither one of us knew how to do it. I had no idea how to write for radio. The person I was with, she was our engineer, she had no idea what she was doing. Absolutely none. She had this old radio equipment she had no idea how to use. We were terrible, but we got this done. People loved it because it was media for our community that nobody had ever heard before. Once I got hooked, I was hooked. That, I think more than any other single thing, has kept me from considering taking my own life again, because I have something to live for. I don’t make any money on it, but it’s something I’m passionate about. In a way, it’s like I created my own exit. I didn’t know I was doing it at the time, but that’s what it is. That’s where I come from on this now. Every now and then I’ll get an email from somebody, and I always give the same kind of advice: “There’s a community that is here for you, but you have to reach out. They’re not going to find you, you have have to find them. Here’s where you start. Once you are there and you are willing to reach out to the community, the community will reach back.” Hopefully, if I have any sort of legacy on this at all, maybe that’s it—that there is a way out, but you gotta ask for it. You can’t expect it to come to you. You have to go find it.

Des: There is very little trans visibility in Live Through This—especially trans women. I get the sense that trans women don’t want to talk about it as much. Why do you feel like trans women, specifically, don’t want to talk about suicide?

Rebecca: I think that their attitude is that their position is more precarious than they want to let on. I see this all the time. Trans women are like two steps away—two bad things happening before they are back there, and they don’t want to dwell there. They want to focus on the positive. They think, “I want to move forward, I want to get away, I want to leave this behind me. I don’t want to go back.” I think this part of it is just human nature. They feel like doing that is taking a step back. Also, the fact that we’ve been taught through experience, desire, and social interaction that the smart thing to do is to take the lowest profile possible because we are the highest profile in terms of trans folks. The best thing to do is to be as little-noticed as possible, not to bring yourself into the public light. Then there’s people like me. I’m a media whore, and I’m okay with that! But the reality is that a lot of trans women don’t want that media spotlight. Actually, it’s funny—at one point, I did an interview with CNN. They said, “We want more trans women to do interviews with!” I put something out online that said, “Hey, if you’re trans and you want to be on CNN, get in touch with them because I know somebody who is looking.” Nobody. Nobody wants to. I mean, there’s a few of us who are there and who have made that choice to say, “Yeah. I’ll put myself out there because I think this is important. I want to be a journalist, I want to be well known. It helps me in that career, and I’ve made that choice consciously,” whereas a lot of these folks just don’t want it. They feel that it could impact them negatively. If, one day, their boss reads about them, they don’t want to risk what they have. That, in a lot of cases, is seen as a risk. Because if, by some chance, this goes viral, then they are feeling like they’re putting their career at risk, especially if they live in an area that’s not so accepting.

Des: Talk to me more about specific challenges related to the trans community in terms of suicide.

Rebecca: One of the biggest challenges is a lack of family and friends’ acceptance. When people come out, sometimes they have a problem with their friends. Their friends or family will say, “I can’t deal with this.” Or they get thrown out, especially with younger folks. Then there is the Jesus-told-me-to-hate-you kind of thing. This kind of stuff. I think that’s a big issue. That’s basically the Leelah Alcorn story. Her Jesus parents were like, “We’re not doing that, because Jesus.” What happens is that these parents literally control their [kids’] lives. That’s what it is. They try to “fix” these kids. The problem is, these kids can’t be “fixed.” I mean, I never lived as a trans kid. It took me thirty-five years before I recognized that nobody is fixing this. I’m not fixing it. Nobody is gonna fix it. It’s either I’m going to deal with it or I die. I think what’s happening is that kids give up. They say, “I’ll never get what I want.” And you try. I’ve had several kids who’ve called me in crisis, and I say, “You’ve got to hang on. You have to wait until you have agency. You have to wait until you’re an adult. Once you’re an adult, you can do whatever you want. You can move out of the house. But until you hit eighteen, you can’t.” A lot of these kids—they’re very internet savvy—they see that other parents are accepting, that other kids are living the lives that they want. That was a big motivator for me. I was very depressed once I was familiar with the internet. I would see these people and say, “That’s the life I want and can’t have.” That’s when you start saying, “Well, if I can’t have the life that I want, what’s the point of living?” I think that’s what it is with a lot of these folks. I think a lot of the problem is these kids are much more committed. I think a lot of us—some of us my age and a little younger—we’re mature enough to know that there are other options. We’ve lived enough life as adults to realize that we have agency within our own lives and there’s more than one path. You don’t have to live to satisfy the needs of a parent or even a wife. Wives can be divorced. Husbands can be divorced. We understand that there’s agency there, we have control over our own lives, and there’s things we can do to improve our lives. Whereas these kids don’t have that. They don’t see it. They don’t experience it because they’ve never had it. How do you know what agency feels like—how do you know what control of your own life feels like—when every single thing you’ve ever had to do has to be approved by Mom and Dad? My mother, when I first came out to her, was like, “You do whatever you want, but don’t expect me to accept it or help you pay for it or anything like that.” She came around, eventually, because she saw that this was not going to change, but I had the agency to put my foot down and say, “This is my demand. This is me, and I’m going to live my life the way I want to live my life, whether you like it or not. If you want to be a part of that life, then you will get with the program.” I was able to do that because I was thirty-five years old. These kids can’t do that. Their parents have control. I think a lot of these kids don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Des: What would you want to say to someone reading your story?

Rebecca: You can do it. It’s doable. Suicide is never the answer. It sounds like a cliché, but the truth is, if you can consider suicide as a viable option, there’s always something else. If your problem is your life, the way you’re living your life, then the answer is to change it. Even if it takes you two or three years or more, it’s doable. It’s possible. We live in an age now where being trans is a real thing. It’s a way to be. Whereas when we were growing up—when people my age were growing up—there was no such thing. There was Christine Jorgensen. There was Renée Richards. That was it. Those were the only things that we knew. Now, there are resources. There’s the Internet. There’s so many ways to start, but you have to reach out. That’s the key. The key is you can’t wait for this to come to you. You have to reach out. Even when it’s hard. Even when it’s going to cost you friends. Even when it’s going to cost you the goodwill of your parents or other relatives or teachers or whatever. You have to reach out and grab it. It will not come to you. But if you do reach out, there are people out there who will reach back. That’s what I would want to say.

Des: Is suicide still an option for you?

Rebecca: For me? No. I think I’ve gotten past that. I won’t say I never consider it. I won’t say the thought doesn’t cross my mind from time to time. On the other hand, being who I am now, I know those thoughts for what they are. I’m still on medication. I still take Wellbutrin. I still have difficulty with depression and anxiety. I take Xanax from time to time. But I’m also conscious of where those feelings come from. I would never want to say never, because I don’t believe in never. I do believe that I have reached the point where I’m past feeling my life is in danger from myself. Whether that continues to be true, well, who knows, you know? I just don’t feel that way now. I don’t expect to feel that way tomorrow and the next day and the next day and the next day. You know, like I said, I’m certainly not ready to give up on the drugs—on the Wellbutrin and the Xanax. I feel like I’ve stepped away from the precipice, but the precipice is still there, and it always will be. No matter what I am. Just like in the case of being a former drug addict, I will always be a survivor. That will always be an issue for me. I will always have to be conscious about it in my life because I know it’s a vulnerability that I will have. Beyond that, it’s hard for me to say, because I’ve learned that if you try to presume the future, the future has a way of fucking with you.

Des: Seriously.

Rebecca: So I try to never say, “Yes! I never will, guaranteed, forever!” Because I still have the thoughts. It’s still something that I run past myself. It’s still something that, when I’m lying in bed late at night after a rough day, runs through my mind. But I also know it for what it is. It’s thoughts. It’s not desire. And that’s really the wall you have to build for yourself. To say, “Even though I’m thinking about it, it doesn’t mean that this is what I want. It just means that that’s the way my thoughts happen to be running today.” It’s a hard question to answer, but I can say that right now, today, and hopefully tomorrow and the next day and the next, it’s not an issue.

Rebecca’s story is sponsored by a grant from the hope & grace fund, a project of New Venture Fund in partnership with global women’s skincare brand, philosophy, inc. Thanks also to Al Smith for providing the transcription to Rebecca’s interview, and to Sara Wilcox for editing.

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About Live Through This

Live Through This is a series of portraits and true stories of suicide attempt survivors. Its mission is to change public attitudes about suicide for the better; to reduce prejudice and discrimination against attempt survivors; to provide comfort to those experiencing suicidality by letting them know that they’re not alone and tomorrow is possible; to give insight to those who have trouble understanding suicidality, and catharsis to those who have lost a loved one; and to be used as a teaching tool for clinicians in training, or anyone else who might benefit from a deeper understanding of first-person experiences with suicide.

More Information

Tax-deductible donations are made possible by Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization, which sponsors Live Through This. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Live Through This must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Please Stay

If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out to one of the resources below. Someone will reach back. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can’t feel it—and you are worth your life.

Find Help

You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, the Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255 and pressing Option 1, the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada), or The Trevor Project at 866-488-7386.

If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741, or check out the Lifeline Crisis Chat. If you’d like to talk to a peer, warmline.org contains links to warmlines in every state. If you’re not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world.

Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.

Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.