Jordan s Story
Philadelphia, PA USA
"In 2.5 seconds, my life would change forever. September 28th, 2007, I attempted to take my own life by going out of my 9-story bedroom window. I broke my left fibula, left tibia, left femur and pelvis. Because of the injuries and internal bleeding, my parents were told that I had less than twenty-four hours to live. My kidneys failed and I was placed on dialysis. It wasn’t until five days later that my parents would be told I had a 40% chance of surviving. I was induced into a coma and was in the ICU for two weeks.
One of my first memories, after waking up in the hospital, was looking around my hospital room and seeing signs telling me to get better. Cards that were signed by friends and family members. Posters made by students from my high school to show their support and love. I was confused as to why my room would be decorated with so much support and love because I had no idea why I was in a hospital. I had no idea what I was supposed to be feeling better from.
I still don’t remember the moment that I went out of my window. I only had the memories of hitting the ground and being in a helicopter. I was confused. Confused as to why I had a tracheotomy in my throat and had no voice. Confused as to what the steel rods were in my left leg and why I had a scar on my stomach and wrist. But, I was most confused as to why nurses and doctors kept asking me what happened and why I was there. The hospital wanted to see if I would remember what happened on my own, but I didn’t. My friends and my parents couldn’t tell me what happened, but I knew the one person who would. My sister, Tara, has always been my best friend and the person I talked to about anything.
I was going through surgery after surgery and it seemed as though I would never recover physically. I was at a point of frustration as to why exactly I was going through all of this pain and I just wanted a reason. Tara was visiting one day and as we were catching up, I decided that this was a moment I wanted to ask why I was lying in a hospital bed. Since I still had no voice, I usually had to point to an alphabet chart and spell out words when I wanted to ask a question or respond to someone. This time, I decided to mouth to her, 'What happened?' It looked as though she had been expecting this question and I could tell that she was being honest when she told me, 'You went out your window.'
My last classroom memory was my physics class and we learned that the cutoff point for life and death was five-stories, so I thought that what my sister was saying was impossible. I then asked her if someone pushed me, if I was drunk, if I was drugged, or if it was an accident and the answer was no to all of them. It was at this moment when I had to accept two things: That this was a suicide attempt and that I would never be the same again physically.
During the time I was at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, my dad was contacted by a reporter form the Philadelphia Inquirer named Mike Vitez. Mike wanted to interview me about my suicide attempt and how it got to that point. Looking back, I always wonder where my life would be if I said no to that interview. At that time, I’m eighteen and I don’t have a job or career. I have no promise of graduating during my senior year and I’ve been told I’ll never get out of a hospital bed, let alone walk again. I have no voice but I do have a story. A story about what it’s like having depression and working harder to mask it than to cope with it. I can spell out everything I could have done to take care of my mental health in a better way and not feel ashamed about it. Maybe if I’m completely honest about what lead up to my suicide attempt, it will help someone else. It was the first time that I felt like I couldn’t be silent anymore and I’m grateful every day that Mike did such an incredible job with that article.
It’s been just over nine years since that story was printed and almost ten years since my suicide attempt. I’m a firm believer that telling our stories is one of the best ways we can break the stigma associated with mental health awareness and suicide prevention so that’s what I continue to do today. This fall will mark my ninth year of going around the country to speak at middle schools, high schools and colleges. That’s thanks to two organizations I speak for, Active Minds and Minding Your Mind.
The most amazing part of my job is talking to students after I’m done speaking and listening to how the presentation impacted them. My goal today is the same as when I was spelling out my story on an alphabet chart for the first time, help someone, who felt the way I did, know though they’re not alone."