When I was about 15 years old, give or take, I made my first suicide attempt. What you have to understand is that I was completely serious and intent on accomplishing the act. But I was also totally clueless as to what would work and what wouldn’t work.
I had been mercilessly bullied at school, I had no support from any corner, not even from my own mother, and my loving father had been 6 ft under since I was 5 years old. Going to school was so traumatizing on a daily basis that I was in fear for my life. I looked into the future, and saw no hope. Only endless pain, as I had already endured…
Here is a photograph of me and my parents when I was 7 months old, sitting in my daddy’s lap:
And here is me with my daddy when I was 2 years old:
So on that day, the school bus dropped me off at my corner. No doubt, the other kids were either taunting me or ignoring me, and I must have hung my head low as I walked the 1/2 block to home. I’m sure I wanted to vanish, to disappear, to not be seen by anyone. I felt that I was so worthless, I had no right to breathe God’s oxygen.
I don’t remember making the decision, but I remember what I did and that I was completely serious. My mother shaved her legs with the old style razors, which you won’t remember unless you are my age. She probably still had the very same shaver my daddy had used to shave his face smooth until the thick Italian stubble bristled by noon. The shaver was metal, and you had to insert the two-sided blades.
Apparently, I knew where the razor blades were kept — why wouldn’t I? They would have been in the medicine cabinet or below the sink in the bathroom. Thus, the scene (or my memory of it) starts in the bathroom. I had a razor blade in my hand and I inspected the veins on my wrist. They were blue.
Without hesitating or flinching, I sliced across the most obvious vein in my wrist. This produced a trickle of blood, but not what I had expected. So I sliced again and again, and I don’t know how many times… The faint scars are still there.
Eventually, I sliced deep enough that a geyser of blood spewed on the white tile and everywhere. For a brief moment, I was mesmerized, waiting to die. But of course, I didn’t die — I’m typing this. I couldn’t understand what had gone wrong…
Now I panicked. My mother would be home at any minute, and she would see that the bathroom was a mess, and I’d be in BIG TROUBLE. She’d yell at me for making a mess and I wouldn’t have the words to explain what I’d done or why, and she’d give me the cold stare and lapse into one of her glazed-over stories of how hard her childhood had been (and she’d had a darn hard childhood). Panic!!
I grabbed the first towel I could find, which quite naturally was white, and began mopping up the blood on the floor, the walls, the bath tub … and then I placed the towel on my bleeding wrist. The bathroom wasn’t even pristine or without evidence of what I’d done, and yet I couldn’t get the bleeding to stop.
I decided I had better face the problem head on. I went to our old rotary dial telephone — this was before they had buttons, making “dial” obsolete — and cranked out the number to where my mother worked. Perhaps she hadn’t left yet, and if not, I needed her to come home immediately. I can’t remember the conversation, or how it went, except that I told her I had been doing an art project and had “accidentally” cut myself. I used to do all sorts of weird and creative art projects, so I thought this was believable…
My mother got home and saw the blood and that I was still bleeding, and drove me to the emergency room. A kind young doctor stopped the bleeding and sutured my wrist. I repeated the same story, that I’d hurt myself doing an art project. I didn’t quite realize that my intent was obvious.
Until… Until he pulled me aside, out of my mother’s earshot, and said something akin to, “I know what you did. Do you want help and do you want me to tell your mother?” No, no, no!!! The thought of her cold stare was more than I could take. I asked him not to tell her.
It remains a mystery to me why my mother didn’t “seem” to comprehend what I’d done. The precise cuts on my wrist were clear as day. There were no cuts on my fingers or my hand or anywhere else. Hardly an “accident.” But she never asked me further questions or expressed any concern.
Now I know that suicide by cutting one’s wrist is a hopeless project. If one is going to even attempt it, one needs to slice the vein lengthwise. But even if one does a good job with that, one is still going to survive and have severe damage to the nerves and tendons that feed the hand. So don’t try. I was simply ignorant back then.
This was my first attempt, and there were others to follow.