JD Schramm: Break the silence for suicide survivors

JD Schramm: Break the silence for suicide survivors

From all outward appearances, John had everything going for him. He had just signed the contract to sell his New York apartment at a six-figure profit, and he’d only owned it for five years. The school where he graduated from with his master’s had just offered him a teaching appointment, which meant not only a salary, but benefits for the first time in ages. And yet, despite everything going really well for John, he was struggling, fighting addiction and a gripping depression. On the night of June 11th, 2003, he climbed up to the edge of the fence on the Manhattan Bridge and he leaped to the treacherous waters below. Remarkably — no, miraculously — he lived. The fall shattered his right arm, broke every rib that he had, punctured his lung, and he drifted in and out of consciousness as he drifted down the East River, under the Brooklyn Bridge and out into the pathway of the Staten Island Ferry, where passengers on the ferry heard his cries of pain, contacted the boat’s captain who contacted the Coast Guard who fished him out of the East River and took him to Bellevue Hospital. And that’s actually where our story begins. Because once John committed himself to putting his life back together — first physically, then emotionally, and then spiritually — he found that there were very few resources available to someone who has attempted to end their life in the way that he did. Research shows that 19 out of 20 people who attempt suicide will fail. But the people who fail are 37 times more likely to succeed the second time. This truly is an at-risk population with very few resources to support them. And what happens when people try to assemble themselves back into life, because of our taboos around suicide, we’re not sure what to say, and so quite often we say nothing. And that furthers the isolation that people like John found themselves in. I know John’s story very well because I’m John. And this is, today, the first time in any sort of public setting I’ve ever acknowledged the journey that I have been on. But after having lost a beloved teacher in 2006 and a good friend last year to suicide, and sitting last year at TEDActive, I knew that I needed to step out of my silence and past my taboos to talk about an idea worth spreading — and that is that people who have made the difficult choice to come back to life need more resources and need our help. As the Trevor Project says, it gets better. It gets way better. And I’m choosing to come out of a totally different kind of closet today to encourage you, to urge you, that if you are someone who has contemplated or attempted suicide, or you know somebody who has, talk about it; get help. It’s a conversation worth having and an idea worth spreading. Thank you. (Applause)


100 thoughts on “JD Schramm: Break the silence for suicide survivors”

  • DiabolicalPheel says:

    At the end of the day, when yout die, nothing matters. The world will move on without u. People are gonna hurt but they'll get over it. Trying to tell someone, what they can live through, is the equivalent to telling someone in a tight they can hold it, when u aren't experiencing how bad they really have to go. The world is a ugly place, which at some point we all experience, but some people take it better than others. life is about experiences, and some people have more bad than good.

  • That only gives you as good a reason as many other people – who feel limited, angry, and pained by this existence (including myself) – to keep pushing your limits. Test yourself. Keep learning new things about what you're capable of. We're always surprised when we learn what obstacles we can over come and how many things we can actually achieve.

  • Hi: Father Barron on You Tube gives his opinion about Hell. "We can reasonably hope that no one is in Hell." The nuns used to tell us that to separate yourself from God(Mortal Sin) a person had to have 'full knowledge' of the evil he was contemplating, and 'full consent' of the will. In us wounded human beings our intellects are darkened and our wills are weak. This is Catholic Doctrine.(Original Sin) Our inordinate passions trump our 'full consent' & our grasp of the full evil of sin. Thanks.

  • Again: Google up the poem "Desiderata" (author unknown) because it puts a positive spin on our world and our lives in the universe. "If you're going through hell, don't stop." (Winston Churchill). Or google up the poem by Robert Frost entitled 'Bereft'. Frost in his poems mentions God only two or three times. This poem is an example. Frost himself never refers to his own personal tragedies, unless indirectly. One of his daughters went insane, another died giving birth, & a son committed suicide!

  • I'm a suicide survivor. I was out of town with the one person I still considered a friend, his girlfriend, and a few people I thought wanted nothing to do with me. Those last few people and the way that they treated me pushed me to a point where I didn't want to go home. I thought "I'd rather have my friend discover me than my abusive mother," so I decided if I was going to commit suicide, then was the time. …my friend walked through the door before the pills traveled from my hand to my mouth.

  • Wheel Chair Kitty says:

    Ive been thinking of suicide a lot but idk i have an anxiety about telling my family . . . Besides id feel like a bitch if i just talked about it. What treatment is there anyway? Im a lazy bastard so i probably wouldnt be able to afford a therapist so wtf do i do?

  • This is moving. I wasn't prepared for "I am John." Yes, the silence needs to be broken. I am doing a book of stories of suicide attempt survivors. If you would like to be interviewed for the book, write me at savedfromsuicide at gmail com or visit cliffordwilliams net/suicide for more information. Confidentiality guaranteed.

  • It may help if you gave potential suicide victims some useful ideas to avoid contemplating suicide rather than scaring them away from seeking help. There is no cure for suicide only prevention.

  • Jessica Collins says:

    Define a true suicide attempt. I have set out several times to with drinking to lower my inhibitions and then took way more pills than prescribed but never have I had a near fatal anything so that can't be classified as suicide attempt.I call it stupidity because obviously I wasn't serious enough.

  • Jessica Collins says:

    Agreed that is why I don't seek help any more after feeble behaviors regarding toying with suicide cause I know it isn't a real attempt. I don't need the attention anyhow.

  • Jessica Collins says:

    Yeah well with me what people don't know can't hurt them. My only friend is in Illinois and would never know being in a different state so whatever. Not saying I would.

  • Jessica Collins says:

    Been there and that is why I don't go them anymore. Better off on my own devices. They don't help anyway. They don't dig into the reason you are there or give coping skills at least not in my town.

  • Jessica Collins says:

    Yeah all these haters of suicidal people have it so easy it appears. Guess they haven't spent a whole lifetime dealing with abuse or trauma. Must be nice assholes!

  • Sadly, what many fail to realize is that for some, it is not an undertaking pursued on a whim. It is days, weeks, months sometimes years in it's execution all the while being fought from within.

  • surreal16media says:

    If you or someone you know is an "Attempt Survivor" we would like to hear from you. We are searching for stories from survivors of suicide attempts.If you or someone you know is an "Attempt Survivor" we would like to hear from you. We are searching for stories from survivors of suicide attempts. please e-mail: [email protected]

  • Why shouldn't the 400lb person give people dieting advice? They can use their own experience to tell people what not to eat, not to act on gluttonous thoughts, things like that. Suicide survivors, and even people who were going to commit suicide but decided not to, can use their experiences to help potential suicide victims by telling them what depressive thoughts to be wary of and how they got rid of them.

  • 2:17 "This truly is an ******** population, with very few resources to support them."
    What was the word he said here?
    I couldn't catch it.

  • There's a fantastic organisation called CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) set up in the UK that encourages guys to speak out about their depression and suicide attempts. Search thecalmzone 🙂

  • Remember to call up helplines and try your best to get through the pain. I know how hard it is but trust me it's worth it to keep going. Also if you survive a suicide attempt…keep going and talk! You're worth a hell of a lot! 🙂 <3

  • Absolutely beautiful. What a brave man for speaking up and owning it. Particularly, in a society that either doesn't understand, or judges them. Thank you John, for being brave enough to share your story. We need to talk about this more.

  • Karen McMahon says:

    I wish my daughter were one of them. The third time a year ago was a completed attempt. I would give anything to have her back…or really, for her to still have a future.

  • GabrielDeafBlindPupF says:

    I am a suicide survivor. I lost my boy on November 5, 2004. We MUST drag suicide out of the closet! We MUST learn how to deal with survivors, with potential victims,we MUST commit to reaching out to a stranger in pain.

  • I have attempted twice. Although I am still here, I feel like it is inevitable that I will eventually succeed. I am, however, working hard to avoid that conclusion.

  • Join our cause! We are a family who lost a loving husband/father to suicide. It needs to stop. Thank you. Check out our web site:

    "Up with Life" 4K Community Walk for Suicide Awareness & Prevention

  • I use to live in NYC, I can understand John, people are very mean there, I had to move out before becoming John

  • Exactly, like I said, try using *Spoiler Alert*. Whatta moron. And he wants people to trust him and send their stories so he can write a book? No way.

  • RosesRnotusually Green says:

    Then you shouldn't read the comments before watching the video!! That's what they are here for… to comment on what the video was about.

  • Not necessarily. If you click on a link or are directed here from somewhere else, you're objective is to watch this video, not read the comments before. This purpose of the comments are to discuss what we all just watched, share criticisms, and ultimately give feedback, whether it be positive or negative.

    No-one is to blame if a comment reveals too much about the video. Your eyes should be of the video above, not at the comments down below.

    My two cents.

  • What a moron*

    If you're going to insult someone, at least have the common courtesy of correct grammar.

    And why should his character and trust be questioned and judged based off a simple comment he made ABOUT the video we all just watched?

  • Their goal wouldn't be to end all suicide in an instant, but rather raise awareness through the community and its members in an effort to reach out to others who have thought about, or attempted suicide.

    The unfortunate fact that they lost a loving husband/father goes to show that anyone can be dealing with the perils of suicide. And that we need to break the silence on a matter that has plagued our friends and loved ones for far too long.

    If not me, then who?
    If not now, then when?

  • Also, there are 7 Billion people on this Earth. Do you expect a single idea/project to be solely limited to just one individual? Everyone has their own style and way of doing things. It'd be nice to see it from a different/multiple perspectives.

    Have some consideration; you ruined this for yourself. 🙂

  • im just prioritizing. y do u think there are so many suicidal people? cuz the world fucking sucks. so lets fix the world first. trying to help suicidal people is difficult and not always possible. its much more efficient to just help them die. its what they want anyways. i wish someone was there to help me die when i was suicidal. its a win win. forcing suicidals to live in such a cruel world, THAT is mentally ill. make the world livable first, then convince them to stay.

  • I'm not going to disregard your own and surely personal suicidal thoughts but for many it's not a case of wanting to die. It's much more than that and potentially much more than just the rights and wrongs of the world as it is.

    There's no guaranteed efficiency in death. Efficiency shouldn't be associated with suicide rates, reasoning or even life for that matter.
    You're going to be facing a much greater task in making the world livable than helping someone see that it can be lived in as it is.

  • …And logically if you were to help all of those who are suicidal to complete suicide/euthanasia. Those who are left will see little reason to fix the problems you claim lead to suicides, as they have not directly seen or dealt with the problems as such great difficulties. Without anyone calling for change the problems will indefinitely continue. Which as you've stated is how it already is in many cases – unfair and cruel.

    So, your idea doesn't have much basis in aforementioned efficiency.

  • UnluckyGambler says:

    a brick of C4 sounds pretty efficient to me. point blank shotgun blast to the brain. even a simple pistol shot to the heart.

    and of course, making the world a place thats desirable to live in is a greater task, but its worth it. it will prevent future suicides. its getting at the root of the problem.

    on the other hand, helping people live in it as is, sure, do it, if u can. most people who say they wanna die, really dont. but for those who truly do, like me a few years ago, just help them die.

  • I think we've meant efficiency in different forms. Yes, the process of death is efficient but a simpler existence isn't guaranteed nor is an ending of existence. There's no evidence to say the pain and problems don't just continue another way. (Not referring to religion but a lack of evidence.)

    I agree, if someone wants to, it's their choice. But if you wanted to die and you seem knowing of efficient methods, you didn't, which suggests you saved yourself? So many others are also able to, yes?

  • Although, if like John, in this video you're a survivor from an attempt, please don't take what I've said in anyway to disregard your own suffering as I've presumed otherwise. If that is the case, then I'm sorry if my intentions came across in such a way.

  • UnluckyGambler says:

    oh u had a second part from the first reply, didnt see that cuz u replied to urself.

    if suffering people off themselves, living people would notice, and realize how bad the system is. the incentive to better the world will remain.

    if one dies, one's suffering ends. theres no reason to believe otherwise. i hope ur not hinting at a possibility of an afterlife.

    i didnt get to die because i lacked access to painless methods to kill myself with. by the time i did, my plan was thwarted.

  • i should, id make the world a better place. but i dont like that field, nor would i get the support anyways. people are full of ignorance.

  • That was nice and all, but what about those that havent found value in their lives.

    John got a contract, John got a scholarship… thats grand and definitely things not to commit or even think of attempting such a thing.

    What about those that are stuck in the cycle of the lower class that have no chance to grow financially, or by education because of lack of opportunity, or even worse, rejection from any attempt to climb the social ladder?

    What about those stuck with medical bills and medical issues? Disabled or even amputees?

    What about the issues of racial, gender, or appearance inequalities?

    John is a successful white man with everything going for him, and he attempted suicide. He says have a conversation…with who if youre a person, like he said, with little or no resources to speak to someone that will understand, or afford?

    What of those with nothing to live for? The ones that wish they could have the opportunities John's been given?

  • Nice talk.  My husband committed suicide in September of this year, a day after my birthday.  He succeeded the first time with a firearm after a long battle with depression and anxiety.  I am still coming to terms with that loss…

  • I think it is imperative that suicide is discussed. I lost both of my siblings to suicide, my brother 10 years ago and my sister 2 years ago, and the refusal to talk about it has left my family permanently broken. The stigma needs to be eliminated for survivors. 

  • Suicide-Prevention Resource Channel says:

    Thank you for discussing this important topic. We read and hear much with regard to the need for suicide awareness and prevention. However, what happens with those persons who attempt suicide but live is seldom addressed. This is a subject that needs more attention.

  • Thank you for sharing your story, very brave of you…so glad you are alive to share your experience and open up important conversation….take care.

  • This is a great video, and I agree there needs to be more support for suicide attempt survivors, but what resources could one turn to?

  • Prospero Matias says:

    Thanks for your share, it is really hard to talk about suicide especially with family it hurts that when you tell them all they cam respond is that all you are thinking about. But survivor of suicide attempt myself it has been 8 years and still in same thought and became too addicted to gambling.

  • Roderick Treadaway says:

    I've attempted suicide back in February and ever since then, no one really likes to talk to me. I try to talk about my attempt with my best friend, but she just says, "you'll get better and it was just an episode." She doesn't realize how much I rely on her and yet she's failing me. Being stuck in my own mind is no fun.

  • Cele Abringa says:

    I'm sorry.  I'm so angry you got to live and my love didn't.  He killed himself and never got to do anything like this,  He's just gone.  Forever.

  • I attempted suicide aftery military service. I was left brain damaged and alone. I urge anyone to please talk to someone before they get to this point.

  • I hope one day to be so brave to share my story, still hurts too much, 17yrs ago but feels like it were yesterday, everyday. Everything WILL work out

    Best wishes!

  • How do you talk to someone about their suicide attempt in a way that wouldn't trigger them? How do you get through reliving those details? What is the end goal of that conversation? What if you feel incapable of bringing the conversation to that point?

  • I have been on both ends. I tried suicide and was going to therapy…. then I lost my husband of 7 years this past March to suicide by shotgun. I will NEVER put anyone through the pain of what it feels like to lose someone to suicide. The heartache and loss is of something no one will understand or feel unless they have experienced it themselves. I would not wish this upon my worse enemy. The pain makes me want to die, but the pain is that bad…. that I could not bare to pass it to someone else.

  • And what if everyone in your life doesn't care to hear about it? I've attempted once and still to this day have ideation but nobody really cares to hear about it. I'm too isolated to reach out anymore. It isn't helpful to have to pay a stranger to care when you should have people in your life that care for free

  • Talking to someone about suicide when you fear that they might be contemplating suicide does not trigger them in any way to do it. I've read many, many studies and talked with PhDs who research suicide and their are unanimous in saying that if you fear someone is thinking about killing themselves, talk to them. And John said, the silence, the fact that no one wants to talk to you about this, that's what hurts. It only isolates them more.

    Here's just one resource I might point to for people who are afraid to raise the question of suicide to someone:

    Please, take that step. Maybe it would have kept me from attempting suicide when I was in college.

  • The statistics he used were totally correct; people who fail are 37 times more likely to succeed later on, but still 90% of suicide survivors end up not committing suicide in the long run. Weird how those numbers mash up.

  • I attempted suicide, 7 years ago, and obviously failed. I was more ashamed of the failure, than the attempt. The pain you feel when you are in that state of mind is impossible to describe. It makes 'rational' thought impossible.

  • When i came here, there were 333 comments under this video…a sign of synchronicity for me…a sign i take that im in the right place, so I continued to watch the video.
    I then had to watch the video again, knowing he was talking about himself. I'm struggling. John helped me through another day.

  • I tried twice due to anxiety, depression, misophonia and psoriasis and found that the psychiatrist wasn't interested in my comments that I felt disinhibited about trying to end my life again. As a 44-year-old man in the UK, I feel unemployable, damaged and hopeless. My fiancee is the only reason I haven't tried again recently and I just feel numb inside most of the time. For me, medication just doesn't work and the NHS psychiatrist wants to discharge me because there's nothing he can do to help with misophonia.

  • Thank you cousin, David, for sharing this. We are having a meeting today at school in regards to suicide prevention. Good bless you. Edith

  • I tried to kill myself when I was younger. My mother died and I had a miscarriage at a young age on the day she was buried. I felt worthless and responsible for both. God saved me. PTL

  • I know most people scroll past these comments, but in this one there is helpful recourses for people who are struggling. I have never been through trauma but I’ve had clinical anxiety since first grade and it got worst and worst until I grew into depression as well. I’ve attempted suicide once, I realize it wasn’t the right choice after I tried, luckily I’m still here after attempting overdoes. There has been multiple sites and numbers that I still use when I’m stuck in life. Here are some sources that saved my life,
    Text the number 741-741
    The app mood tool
    Thank you for reading this.

  • Thank you for sharing your story. By saying 19/20 people that attempt suicide “fail” it gives the perception that one must keep trying to succeed at dying. This would of been a great inspirational video to show to others but the language is unfortunately encouraging of suicide.

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