My Suicide Attempt


I submerged into the dirty, cloudy water and thought “is this death?”. I had just leaped from a bridge in an attempt to end my life, aged 17, alone in Paris.

I’ve no idea why I wanted to commit suicide in Paris. I guess I don’t do anything in a non dramatic fashion.

I thought I’d drown, I thought I’d sink. I’d forgotten I’d swam for years (not a good swimmer mind you) and that my body knew how to float.

A day earlier, I’d decided while listening to Travis “A Good Day to Die” that I should stop being a burden on people. That I should get out of the way of people and stop being a nuisance, and a failure. This is how I felt about myself. My ‘reasoning’, if such a word can be applied to depression, was that if I was a useful and good person life would feel much different. Much brighter, much easier, much friendlier. It didn’t. So I reasoned the problem must have been me.

I’d debated jumping off a tall building. Heck, even the Ryanair shuttle bus dropped me off right in front of a perfectly tall hotel to do it. But I didn’t. Lucky. I’d debated jumping off a bridge a few storeys up onto lanes of fast moving traffic. That would do it. Again, lucky I didn’t.

I’d “suffered” before in my teens. The great struggle of just not feeling good enough, competent enough, and loveable enough. Just wanting to close my eyes so tightly it would all go away and I’d feel different than I did, which was unbearable.

When I found the bridge, I didn’t break stride to leap over the edge. I guess I knew if I hesitated doing that I’d be a failure at another thing. I needed to be brave and do it straight away. (Like I said, your reasoning is pretty warped when you’re that far down the dark hole.)

I genuinely believed I wasn’t being selfish, and that this was best for everyone involved. I really did think the world, and all my friends and family were better off without the terrible burden that was me. And yes, I just wanted the pain of being me to end.

I surfaced, and gasped for air. Bollocks. Now what. Amazingly, for February, it didn’t feel cold. I thought it would be freezing, but it didn’t. Maybe it was the insanity I was going through at the time. But it didn’t feel cold.

So I guess you could ask why am I telling this? Simple answer is I felt the need to write about it. Maybe it will help someone. I don’t know. It would be nice if it did, but really it’s to remind myself when I’m dealing with people that they’ve their own struggles too. And not to judge them straight away by their actions. Ask before you attack, I guess.

I floated underneath the bridge I’d just jumped off, looking to my right. My bag was keeping me afloat as I drifted, almost peacefully, down the river. Now what? My oh so brilliant plan hadn’t gone off. I tried to take in and swallow water, but I guess I couldn’t drown myself.

Floating down, I can’t remember if I cried. Because now my attempt was yet another item to the list of things I’d made a balls of. Or at least that’s how my thinking had been going for the last few months. I’d just been so desperate to make everything right in my life that each set back felt like a complete and total failure. That I was a complete and total failure. Being honest, writing this now, the desire to make everything perfect is something I still have. I’m not going to be arrogant and say it’s a strength or self effacing and say it’s a struggle. It just is.

Eventually, and by eventually I mean about two minutes after my leap, I got tired of being in the water. I saw a secluded bank I could swim over to, climb under the overhang, and hope death would just take me.

Honestly, watch this talk Brezzie gave on depression, and his interview here. It’s probably the most accurate insight into how I’ve felt over the years. And there is a shame to it. To me at least. You’re white, you live in a stable economy and society, and yet you’re depressed. It seems ungrateful. It seems like you should look at people with real problems and not the ones you’ve made up in your head, but still you suffer.

On the bank, I huddled up in a little ball. I’m fairly sure I was shivering but I can’t remember feeling cold now. I closed my eyes tight and just kinda hoped that something would happen. I may have fallen asleep. I can’t remember.

Telling people about your depression is hard. They treat you differently, for any number of reasons. It could be they don’t know what to say. And usually, all the well intentioned advice only makes it worse. It’s hard because you want to help, and mean well, but your brain distorts everything. For some it could be that it stirs up their own issues, and they’re not in a place they can deal with it. And yes, there are some people out their that will use it to their own advantage. Cunts will sense an opening. To balance that, there are some amazing people out there that do make you feel whole when you share with them. To understand it, read this and watch this as well.

After lying there in the muck for maybe an hour, nothing was happening. I saw a man walk onto his houseboat. I’d later try imagine the day from his perspective. He’s had a long day in a foreign country, and just come home from walking his dog with a pizza. All of a sudden some seventeen year old kid appears in front of him, shivering, and said he’d jumped the river. (I must have been En Seine! Too soon?) He had to comfort me, find me an ambulance, and was basically responsible for me until my parents came. Jesus, what a thing to ask someone to do for you!!

His name was Matt. He was from New Zealand. I never got the chance to thank him.

But first I had to pick myself up and make my way over to him.

Fuck it, I’d better live, I thought. My story wasn’t finished yet. Still isn’t.

8 thoughts on “My Suicide Attempt

  1. Just finished your article ‘splash’ .
    Depression is inexplicable to most, unless you have experienced it personally or someone near and dear has suffered. Sometimes it’s inexplicable even to yourself! There is no logic to it or so it would appear, that dark place is all consuming !
    Glad your story isn’t finished yet !

  2. Great article Colm. I’m delighted more and more people, men in particular such as yourself, Bressie & Alan Quinlan are willing to share your stories to help take the stigma away from depression, particularly for young males. It’s something that can affect even the strongest amongst us and the hardest thing to do is to ask for help. Hopefully in time fewer people will reach that stage where suicide feels like the only answer.

  3. Thank you for writing this-my big brother Damien threw himself into the Thames at age 21 twenty one years ago…he had been dead 6 months before my aunt found him in the morgue in London…it was his second attempt to end his life. His first was at 19 when he slit his wrists n the vein begins his ears…I rember at age 12 visiting him in hospital trying to act normal n be strong!! Then I remember the whole family on our knees praying that he would survive-he’d also swallowed 100 paracetamal n needs a new liver-we prayed all might together in our sitting room at home n cried-a miracle-he survived n suddenly needed no transplant only to up n leave two years later just before my 15th birthday to cycle to Dublin n get the ferry to London…he was drowned early January…unbeknownst to us…we had sent him a big package of gifts for Christmas…trying to show him we loved him n persuade him to come home! Then no news…for 6 whole months…crying myself to sleep every single night wishing n wanting n praying for his safety…until the day two guards arrived at the front door n mom just fell to her knees…they didn’t even have to say-she knew!!! I’m here with my twin boys…9 weeks old n I’m looking at my brothers photo and tears are streaming down my face…it still hurts…I miss him is all…

  4. Well done Colm, a very brave thing you have done here is to tell your story, so I am very happy that firstly I have read it and secondly because you are here to tell the story,,, As personally I know exactly what you have been through, Its very hard to try understand peoples perspectives,,,, and also as you so elegantly put it, (top marks, see me after class lol) cunts see an opening, but i can assure you , the more and more we do this and talk, and let people know that its ok not to feel ok and its ok to ask for help,, and more importantly, that help is available locally, the less we will see of these proverbial cunts. or have to put up with them, were getting there slowly but surely , we are breaking the stigma, and with my good friends Niall and Alan, Conor Jim everybody thats in this together with us in this fight, we have him, we have him/it on the ropes,,,, and you know its the last round and I think we might even just win this round, take care of yourself Colm and Thank you again, Keep talking, trust me. KG

  5. I think this is going to help more people then you know Colm, and if it lifts even one 17 year old out of quiet despair than that is one whole family you have saved… Thanks so much for letting me share it with my students. Might see you at CrossFit Community Event!

    Christa x x

  6. Colm, thank You for sharing. Although i never knew this specifically, I always felt a connection to you beyond the BJJ team you convinced me to join. To this day I remember my time with you and the insights you shared with me. You may not realize that you touched my life in a way that set it into a different trajectory, but I am a better person for knowing you.

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