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When You Feel Suicide is the Only Way - John Hanson - Trigger Warning

The 31st of August 1997

A day that will go down in history as the day the whole planet mourned the death of Princess Diana. The day people openly wept on the streets at the loss of such an iconic woman. I would have been the same that day except for one thing….

That was the day I tried to kill myself.

While the world was in shock, I was sat in my house alone with a feeling of such emptiness and despair that death seemed the only way. Who would miss me? Who would care? My answers to both questions was nobody. For a while a sense of calm came over me at the thought of not being in agonising pain both physically and mentally anymore. I was almost happy that it was going to be over and nobody could hurt me anymore.

So, what had driven me to such desperation?

I was 25 years old at the time and 16 of those years had been nothing but misery and torture on a scale I couldn’t handle. From abuse both sexual and physical, to being stabbed by a partner who was supposed to love me and the final nail in the coffin, suffering life changing injuries and the death of my best friend in a car crash. Still to this day I suffer with survivors guilt that I’m still here but he’s not but back then I couldn’t compute how it was fair that I was free to live my life when his was cruelly cut short in a second. My new best friend became alcohol. All of my answers were at the bottom of a pint, or so I believed until the pain became so bad that I simply had to die.

My original plan was to hang myself but that was logistically too much effort and preparation, so I decided to just sit quietly with a bottle of whiskey and my pills and drift away peacefully. As one pill after another went down, I felt calmer and calmer at the thought of my new life with my best friend where we could pick up where we left off. I believed in Heaven and was looking forward to moving in there.

So why am I not dead?

For want of a better expression. I projectile vomited so far across the room I would have almost been impressed if not for situation. Everything started to hurt, my insides felt like they were melting. “It’s okay John, not long now” then it hit me. I’d not said goodbye to my son. He was just 6 years old at the time and was innocently going about his day playing with his action men totally unaware that he was never going to see his Dad again.


Through all the years of heartache for me I’d managed to do one thing right, I had fathered a son who I completely adored and here I was about to leave him fatherless. No, no, no I can’t leave him. “Shit it’s too late, the damage is already done”.

The 999 call was the most embarrassing but also the most important phone call I ever made. “I’ve taken a shit load of pills and whiskey, but I’ve changed my mind, I don’t want to die, please hurry” They did hurry and within an hour I was on a crash trolley being saved. I was put on a psych ward and recommended for section. This was the very first time in my life when I thought something was really not right in my head. But mental illness? Na not me I’ll be okay. The look of horror and disappointment on my Mums face as she sat by my bed was something I couldn’t look at. I just thought she wouldn’t understand so I kept silent.

“John, did you hear Princess Diana is dead?” one of the nurses said. I could have met her at the pearly gates, I thought.

So, where am I now?

Every 31st of August people continue to mourn the passing of the ‘People’s Princess’ but that day, for me is a reminder of just how close I came. Am I glad I didn’t see it through? Well, my son turned 28 last week and I’ve got to see him grow up. Less than two years after that day I was happily married with two beautiful stepdaughters. Since then I have learned what it is to be mentally ill, I didn’t want to die in ignorance of not knowing what was wrong with me.

I’ve come close once since that day but was pulled out of it by my, now best friend. Suicidal thoughts will always be a part of my fabric, but I now have the coping mechanisms in place to recognise them and speak about them. A failed suicide attempt, is it failure or success? I don’t know!

I openly speak about my mental health now on social media so if you’d like to ask any questions or just chat then you can find me on twitter @Survivor_John7

Thank you for reading


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