My name is Steve and I will be 47 in October – and after my recent experience, I feel so grateful I am still here and might likely see age 47 come to pass…
I’ve always been a wilderness lover, and as such, tend to be a loner because few people I know feel so comfortable in theÂ “boonies” as I do. In fact, it is my preference to pass-away, when the time is really right, deep in the wilderness, in a peaceful, lovely setting of a few chosen spots I have found during my lifetime of wilderness camping and hiking – like a
native person.Â I never wanted to pass-away in the false-caring “hospital/industrial complex” in a dreary, flourescent-lit
room, stuck with tubes and wires – totally not natural to me – but dying in the wilderness is.
But for now and even, only when the time is right and not by my hand…and not for a while – I still desire time to help my good friends and have more
and more realizations and experiences before my time may be truly up.
I have also been diagnosed (in 2004) as a bipolar – yes, for most of my adult life I have gone from general elation about life and my enthusiasm for knowledge, wilderness, and my hobbies and moments of pure joy and bliss, to feelings of total frustration and emptyness – but I have never experienced what is called a “full-blown mania” nor very prolonged or deep depression – I am called a “rapid cycler” but seem to have much more “highs” than “lows.”
I also admit that for the past 33 years, I’ve been occasionally exercising thoughts of suicude.Â I really don’t like society all that much – it is so full of shallow b.s. and the constant war between “hawks” and “doves” (good people vs. bad people) and requires one to be an actor and to be fake much of the time – especially in American culture.Â This I dislike highly, and so I developed a strong preference for wilderness existence a long time ago.
Early the morning of Wednesday, September 4th, I piled a few belongings into my Toyota 4Runner and hit the road toward some deep wilderness within Inyo County, California, where I knew I would see few or no people (preferably) and probably not be found.
I was not in a state of depression at all – in fact, I felt elated.Â Being a very “spiritual” person whom loves nature, and whom believes in the Gaia Hypothesis (first coined by James Lovelock) that Planet Earth is a living being/entity, and I have always rejoiced in its wilderness beauty.
It just felt perhaps this time was right and that it would be OK to carry out my final plans not to return to the vagaries of civilization but remain, forever, in the comforting environment of natural Earth-wilderness.Â I feel, being a Urantia Book reader and fan, that there is likely an afterlife and survival of personality.Â But, even if not, a long sleep and rest and oblivion would be almost as good, so no worries–yeah, right…
At this point, I have a very deep and abiding question: WHY do many of us humans feel suicidal? Even a very “happy” acting close radio-enthusiast friend admitted, to my great surprise, a few months ago that he experiences suicidal thoughts, so it MUST be more common than we think.Â But WHY, WHY, WHY, anyway? WHY can many people suffer inconceivable hardships, like people suffering in Darfur – skin and bones, eating leaves to SURVIVE, walking hundreds of miles without shoes to get to a better place – it is simply HOPE? (HOPE! Londoners in 1944 hiding deep within The Underground while Nazi bombs rained down on them – with great hopes for survival–things like that).
This, while many of us “better-off” (materialistically) feel the need to give-up and end-it all? I really don’t know.Â I only know this – all of us whom are contemplating suicide or have survived one or more attempts find us all kindred spirits of sorts, and websites like this one I feel are a huge blessing – it gives us reassurance and renewed hope in many ways – at least we are NOT alone – even if we LIKE being alone – I think deep within all of us we truly desire and prefer to be back in a warm cocoon or womb surrounded by kindred spirits who can comfort and nourish us – so lacking in society, generally. So we feel alone, and lonely, and down, and alienated, and feel it is all hopeless, and we feel overwhelmed by “the system” that leaves us so isolated and alienated feeling, so we exercise our suicidal thoughts and some of us do see them to fruition…very sadly.
Arriving at my destination after 20 miles of slow, bumpy dirt-road driving, I parked the 4Runner at a nice place under a Pinyon Pine tree, climbed into the rear of the vehicle on a comfy bed I put in the rear, and awaited the sunrise, looking at the last vestiges of Jupiter fade-away as it grew light. I thought to myself “this might be the last time I see that lovely planet until I become a “non-physical-entity” or “angel” something similar.
The thing is, no matter how much philosophy and religion a person absorbs, NOBODY, including myself, REALLY KNOWS what “the afterlife” is like, if any.Â At the very best we can be comforted and assured by religion and spirituality that it MIGHT be true, but NO ONE knows for certain, unless you’ve been visited by a dead-person’s spirit or possibly had a near-death experience. Yes, I came very close to passing out and dying with my recent experience, but I don’t consider it an NDE, so the “spiritual afterlife” remains a mystery to me.
At about 8 a.m., I decided to get going, as sunlight began to stream into the car’s windows and I felt increasingly elated to begin my “final hike.”Â For some reason (and I am a ham-radio/technical enthusiast) I brought along my GPS receiver and “marked” where my car was located in case I got lost and needed to find my way back to the car, yet knowing that this would be my last hike and I probably would not be returning to the car.
(Speaking of my car – a Toyota 4Runner, for some reason, I still cared enough for it (a gift from my father 4 years ago) that I decided to stash the keys in the glove box, lock all the doors except for the back lift-gate, so if it was found, it would not have to be “broken into.”)
But I wanted to see how far I got from the car – I was born at near latitude 38 degrees north in San Francisco, and grew up nearby, and so, I thought it appropriate that I walk to a point about 0.38 miles from the car – just for symbolic purposes – not rational. I actually intended to hike further, but I do suffer occasional bad days where my heart palpitates a lot and skips beats constantly (tiring me out) and this day was a particularly bad day for that (I suffered Rhuematic Fever at age 17).Â So I got to exactly 0.38 miles from my car by the GPS receiver display, and found a lovely big Pinyon Pine tree to lie under, out of the hot desert sun.
Getting comfortable under the tree, with the rising wind whispering in the pine trees and no other sounds heard, I felt relaxed and happy to be in the quiet, peaceful, gorgeous wilderness again, for the final time.Â I smoked some pot to get really high, and lay about for a while, contemplating the very sharp, new razor-blade I stashed in a 35mm film canister in my back-pack.Â I lay under that pine tree for maybe a half-hour, allowing myself to get really high/stoned, and felt increasingly relaxed and “ready” to make “my final cut.”
At about 10 a.m., I got up, took out the 35mm film canister, removed the new, very sharp razor blade, and lay back down again with the blade in my hand, allowing “bravado” to arise – get courage to cut an arm artery and vein to bleed out and drift away, forever…
And I, in a quick moment’s notice, slashed a large vein on the inside of my arm, near my elbow, and then soon after, a wrist artery – the same place where I did it in December 1999 (this was my second attempt – the first attempt is a whole ‘nother story I would like to post here sometime soon).
After the slashing-deed was done, I lay there with my arm stretched out, watching the blood pour out onto the ground and soak into the desert soil under that tree.
I must have lay there 15 or more minutes, slowly feeling myself weaken, with a rising “hissing” noise in my ears, and felt increasingly light-headed as I lost blood. I went into deep prayer mode, comtemplating what “the afterlife” would be like.
But, suddenly, I felt scared and began to miss my lovely cat Rocky, my beloved parents near San Francisco.Â I contemplated the devastation my father (especially) would feel upon finding out of my “dissappearence.” And I also had a cascade of thoughts that life is TANGIBLE and KNOWN, despite its challenges and highs and lows, and “the afterlife (if any) was NOT!
And so, I pulled in my arm and bent it tight so the flow of blood from the inside-elbow vein would cease, and I put my thumb over the pulsating cut wrist artery, stopping the outflow of blood. I must have lost at least 1 quart of more of blood.Â I guess I “chickened out” and wanted to pause my depletion of blood – for some reason.
I held my thumb over the artery for maybe 10 minutes, then decided, “the heck with it,” and let go of my wrist.Â Miraculously, the blood ceased flowing from both cuts! I lay there, amazed at how the body tries ANYTHNG to survive – including the amazing physical ability for blood to clot and seal wounds – the body really WANTS to SURVIVE, even if the mind does not!Â I felt overwhelmed with the thought that a “miracle” had just happened and the blood stopped flowing out of my wounds!
It is very fortunate – in case of a hiking accident – that I carry a small roll of packaging tape as well as napkins and pieces of paper towel in my backpack.Â I sat up, suddenly wanting very badly to LIVE – to SEE my cat again, my lovely desert home again, my father again – anything, but oblivion!Â So, despite becoming very dizzy and light-headed at just sitting up, I wrestled out the roll of tape and the napkins out of my backpack and “bandaged” up my two wounds.Â After I did that, I had to lie back down because merely sitting up caused great dizzyness because of my blood loss.
I also wrestled out the last of my supply of water and drank it down, feeling terribly thirsty (blood loss causes great thirst feelings).Â Then I lay back down again, wondering if I could ever get up again.Â If I stood up just on my knees, within 5 to 10 seconds, my heart would race and I would feel faint. I had to sink back down to my bottom to relieve the dizzyness and vertigo.
While I lay there, not knowing what next to do and praying hard that I would, some way, survive to be back home to hug my cat in the quietude of the desert night!Â A strange calm overtook me and I became consumed with one goal – I HAD to get back to the car where I had a lot of water – if I could get back to my car and drink a lot of water and lay in the car’s bed, I might be able to survive.Â I had several hours of daylight left, but no food and no water!Â And so, time was of the essence – a person can go a long time without food (weeks perhaps) but not long in a dehydrated state with substantial blood-loss.Â I knew I had maybe that day, but I would not survive another night as I felt increasingly weak due to hunger, thirst, and blood-loss.
It is strange – that calmness that overtook me – with the single-minded goal of getting back to my car, that day, even if I had to get back in the dark and starlight (you can see amazingly well in starlight once the eyes adjust).Â I did not feel scared anymore.Â Only determined to survive, somehow, someway.Â Period.
My greatest concern was how to get back to my car–if I even stood up to walk for a few seconds, the dizzyness would overcome me and I would collapse back down.Â Even if I crawled like a baby, after a minute, I became dizzy and exhausted.Â The ONLY way I found I could move was to lie on my back and shuffle my feet forward, both at once or even one at a time, then shove my buttocks forward, like an inchworm.Â Also very fortunately I had gloves in my backpack to protect my hands from becoming ragged.
Inchworming myself along, with my back-pack supporting my back, I was able to make forward progress, extremely slowly, for several minutes before becoming exhausted again.Â I must have rested 100 times, inchworming along.
After what seemed like a very long time, I made it back to the dirt road leading back to my car.Â Very curious as to my progress, I broke out my GPS receiver and saw that I had gone only 0.04 miles (0.34 to go!) in maybe an hour of time – I felt overwhelmed with frustration and contemplated the “fix” I was in – my energy was dwindling, I had gone only 10% of the way to my car, and my throat was very dry and scratchy by then.Â Time and my energy was running out!
But again, a deep calmness overcame me and I became single-purposed again – my thoughts dwindled down to one wish – get back to the car! And so I began the laborious inchworming along again, thinking how I am like those Buddhist people whom shuffle their way on their stomach for hundreds of miles to attain enlightment as they make their way to their goal. I was like them – but I was just doing it on my back!
There were a few places where the road went uphill – it was tortuous going uphill as I inchwormed my way along, having to rest for 5 to 10 minutes at a time, but somehow, my energy held up and I kept at it, extremely slowly, inchworming along on my back on and on – nothing else I could do. I would inchworm myself along from tree-shade to tree-shade, but occasionally, becoming so exhausted that I just had to sit there in the hot sun and on the hot dirt road until I got a bit of energy back.
For hours I kept on – I noticed that the sun was sinking down into the west – I had a few hours of sunlight left and God knows how far I was still from my car (I didn’t want to check the GPS again for fear of seeing I was so far…)Â I just kept at the inchworming along, occasionally flipping over to do a baby’s crawl for a few moments until the dizzyness and a very rapid heartbeat (but amazingly steady and without palpitations!) would overcome me, then I would roll back over to my back and lie there until I could resume the inchworming.
Inchworming along, oblivious to my progress to my car, I crept along that dirt road.Â Quite suddenly, I felt I was in a familiar place – and low and behold, my car appeared from around a bend inthe road – perhapd 100 yards ahead! I was overjoyed! But I dared not get up and make the final bit on my feet for fear of collapsing again, so I resumed inchworming for what seemed like an intermitable length of time – maybe half an hour, as I drew ever closer to my car.Â Patience! Hope!
I, at long last, made it to the rear bumper of my car – I hoped I’d kept the rear door unlocked (in desperation I was prepared to break a window to get back in… but happily, I briefly and quickly got to my knees and opened up the back door, then collapsed back down to my back.Â After a few minutes rest, I got back up and grabbed a gallon jug of water and drank and drank until I felt breathless.Â Then I threw myself inside the car, on the bed in the back, and wrestled forward to unlock the driver’s side door.Â Then I backed out of the car and slumped back on the ground again.
After a few moments, I inchwormed my way with the water jug in hand, to the front driver’s door and opened it, got up, and sat inthe driver’s seat.Â I was amazed to find I was not falling into dizzyness and vertigo, sitting there, guzzling as much water as was possible.Â I actually felt rejuvinated!
At this point, I felt certain I was capable of driving, as I’d hoped.Â In fact, I felt actually quite good sitting there in the driver’s seat.Â So I started the Toyota and slowly drove down the dirt road, weaving around overgrown Pinyon Pine trees alongside the road until I got back to the main dirt road leading toward Lee Flat in a remote section of Death Valley National park.
Now, I had about 20 miles of bumpy dirt road driving to do before I got back to the main highway 190 leading back toward the Owens Valley. It took great patience to slowly bump and grind my way back to the main highway – what worried me was, though I felt pretty “normal” sitting in the driver’s seat, I would have brief flashes of dizzyness and what could almost be called “drop-outs” whereby it was like narcolepsy – I would experience brief seconds of wanting to collapse unconsciousness – maybe once every few minutes – similar feeling to bad sleep deprivation.
So I bumped my way along the washboarded roads for a god-awfully long amount of time – then at long last got onto the pavement.Â It was all downhill into lower elevations – actually, about 3,000 feet elevation drop back to my desert home in the Owens Valley of California from the place I had cut my wrists (up in thinner air at 6,600 feet elevation).
The miles went by like molasses – I make this drive frequently, but this time it seemed 5 times as long.Â But down and down I went, feeling better as I got down into thicker air and toward HOME!
At last, I made it back to my home.Â I parked the car and was amazed that in the thicker air I could stand-up for 1/2 a minute before becoming dizzy.Â This meant I could make it into the house and collapse in a chair for a while, then I went into my kitchen and guzzled some orange juice and a bit later, ate some leftovers in the fridge.Â I felt incredibly better, but very tired.Â It was about 7 p.m. by then.Â I guzzled more juice and went to bed and fell asleep, but not before re-bandaging my arm wounds first-aid style – there was NO way I was going to go to the nearby hospital another 15 miles distant and then be subject to “the system.” I felt I could recover at home and keep it “a secret” except for this site I just found!
At home in bed that night, I dozed for a few hours, and got up around midnight – that is when I did a google search for “suicide survivor’s stories” and found this wonderful website.
And here I sit, the next day, maybe 27 hours after I cut my wrist, feeling quie normal, though still somewhat sleepy, I write this.Â I actually drove this morning at 8 a.m. into the nearby bigger town to get some badly needed groceries without feeling any sort of dizzyness or much fatigue – the body recovers amazingly rapidly! Life is GOOD!Â All of my years of hiking, despite the heart problems, has paid-off I guess!Â The only physical manifeststions, besides the bandaged arm cuts, is a small bliser on my right hand and where my tailbone is – nothing more.
I am strong! I am alive, I am here, and I cry for all of you contemplating suicide in your grief, alienation, and despair.
Looking at the stories in the suicideproject.org site, I cry and cry. Is it possible for any of you fellow voyagers of life feeling like it all must end to reconsider… to hang on to that last teeny bit of hope, somehow, that things might get better – that you might find a soulmate, or some miracle happens like I’m
sure it did to me yesterday as I inchwormed my way along back to my car, in the remote desert outback.
God help us all…