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at risk people.
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Help the Semicolon Campaign convince more Oregonians to ask 'R U OK? (are you ok?') by sharing your story for use across media. Stories by community members who seriously considered suicide at some point in their lives and either failed in their attempt or, for some reason, didn't end up attempting suicide. We want to hear your story, hopefully in 1,000 words or so.
We want to hear from veterans, farmers, fisherfolk, loggers, moms and dads, students and teachers, business owners, religious leaders, police, health professionals, LGBATQQI individuals, politicians, everybody. Email a summary to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will follow-up with you directly. Every conversation counts and we look forward to hearing yours.
As a community, let's end the stigma that prevents too many of our at-risk neighbors from getting help. Remember, suicide is preventable. Join other Courageous Oregonians who want to prevent another Oregonian from putting a period at the end of their life. Write us today.
When writing your story, think about these points:
Dont glorify or romanticize suicide. Vulnerable people, especially young people, may identify with the attention and sympathy garnered by someone who has died by suicide.
Dont normalize suicide by presenting it as a common event. Although significant numbers of people attempt suicide, it is important not to present the data in a way that makes suicide seem common, normal or acceptable. Most individuals, and most youth, who seriously consider suicide do not overtly act on those thoughts, but find more constructive ways to resolve them.
Dont present a suicide attempt as an inexplicable act or explain it as a result of stress only. It misses the opportunity to inform audiences of both the complexity and preventability of suicide. The same applies to any explanation of a suicide attempt as the understandable response to an individuals stressful situation or to an individuals membership in a group encountering discrimination. Oversimplification of suicide in any of these ways can mislead people to believe that it is a normal response to fairly common life circumstances.
Dont present overly detailed descriptions of a suicide attempt or method. Research shows that pictures or detailed descriptions of how or where a person died by suicide can be a factor in vulnerable individuals imitating the act. Clinicians believe the danger is even greater if there is a detailed description of the method.
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Gordon Clay, 76, retired advertising executive and U.S. Army veteran
I had gotten my girl friend pregnant over Christmas break during my senior in college. I hadn't planned to marry and was actually planing to go to Europe for several months after college. My fraternity brother's had all acquired jobs following college. We got married in a judges chambers on or around Valentine's Day. It was the responsible thing to do.
I rushed to get a job. We would have to move to Chicago since I had accepted a sales job with the Kansas City Star in their Chicago office. We moved to Oak Park and our daughter was born on September 28, 1965.
I hadn't really desired a marriage and this all changed my view of my future. I was never a faithful husband, though I was committed to be the best father I could be.
It was a rather normal evening in 1974. My wife was leaving early to pick up her father at the airport. She was going to have dinner with a girl friend.
I was the editor of Checkpoint, a monthly publication of the Kansas City region of the Sports Car Club of America. One of our columnists was Gordon Smiley, a Formula Ford driver who went on to race Indy Car and was killed at the Indianapolis 500 in 1982. We were getting close to our deadline on the publication and I knew my wife and Gordon had lunch at times and played tennis together. Off the cuff, not having any indication of anything special, I mention that "The next time you see Gordon, tell him I need his article."
I wife headed for the airport and about a half-hour later I got a call from Gordon saying that he'll have his article to me by the end of the week. The timing of the call struck me as too much of a coincidence. I stewed and finally decided to drive over to his house. Suer enough there was my wife's Mercedes. I parked up the block and at one point actually stood on top of a trash barrel to look in the kitchen window. Feeling that was too close, I crossed the street. There was a four foot retaining wall and I climbed on top. I could see into the house and watch Gordon take my wife upstairs and lay her on his bed.
I was furious. Thoughts of killing them both right then and there plagued my mind. Then I thought of killing myself. After all, I was a successful advertising executive in Kansas City My grandfather had been the head chemist at Procter & Gamble. My uncle was the president of the Federal Reserve. My dad was the chief quality control manger at Pratt & Whitney. Everyone thought we had the perfect marriage. How would it look in that community? I couldn't control my wife. (Yes, it was the early seventies and the early stages of the women's movement.
I headed back home and stewed. When she go home from taking her father to a motel, I took her purse and emptied it on the front porch. I didn't know what I was looking for but what I found was birth control pills and I had a vasectomy.
I stormed out of the house. I didn't know what to do. I went down to Louis Park and sat. I didn't want to live. I've lost track of much of that evening but what I do remember is calling my medical doctor from a phone booth and telling him I was suicidal. He told me to go back to Louis Park and either he would meet me there.
It wasn't long before he showed up with another man. That man was a therapist named Cliff Wolf. My doctor introduced us and excused himself. I don't know how long Cliff and I spent that night be Cliff ended by asking me to promise that I wouldn't attempt suicide until we met the next day. I promised.
\I slept in the guest room that night. I didn't want our daughter to get suspicious. The next day I met with Cliff again. I was still distraught and I wanted a divorce. In Kansas it usually takes six months unless one of the couple is in danger of hurting themselves or someone else. I didn't feel that I was a danger to my wife but I still hasn't stable enough to trust not killing myself. Cliff made me promise not to attempt suicide until we talked the next day. I promised. That afternoon I contact a fraternity brother who was also a divorce attorney in Kansas and filed a motion for dissolution of our marriage with Irreconcilable differences. No mention was ever made for the real reason. We went to court and the judge required my wife to get a lawyer and meet the next day. She did and we did.
My wife wanted me to have custody of our daughter. She felt that the other Gordon didn't want children and she trusted me since I had had such a close relationship with our daughter from day one. I was Chief of the Sacagawea nation of Indian Primness (a YMCA program) and had been very involved in her school's PTA and education and sports activities.) I accept my wife's request. It was the responsible thing to do.
We went to court. Both of our lawyer's felt that my wife should have custody. This was before Kramer versus Kramer. The judge agreed. However, my wife was on the stand and refused custody. The judge recessed our trial until the next day. You see, he was a Kansas judge, was 62 yeas old and had never given a child to a father, especially a girl child. His decision was between letting me have custody or putting our daughter in a foster home.
I got home that night. Our daughter still didn't have a clue. I suggested we go to TG&Y for ice cream. While there, I got passport picture of her and I. The next morning I went to get passports for the two of us. I this is what the legal system was going to do to our family, I was going to take our daughter and leave the country.
That afternoon, the judge ruled that I would be granted custody but lose 80% of my financial wealth that I had built up from working since I was 8 or 10 years old. I'd get to keep the house and my Mercedes but buy her a new Capri since she didn't want to do the upkeep on a Mercedes.
We came home after the hearing and told our daughter what had transpired and that my former wife will be moving in with Gordon the next day. That was the only downside of not having a six-month waiting period for a divorce. However, I'm sure the six-month process would have worked out the same way and would have prevented all three of us from moving on with our lives.
In retrospect it's good that I was awarded custody. Little did I know, at the time, that if my daughter and I had gotten to Mexico and didn't have a notarized letter from my former wife that our daughter could travel with me, we would have been pulled off the plane in Guadalajara and sent back to the United States and be remanded over to the authorities.
Interesting how things work out. My
former wife passed away of Ovarian cancer at 44. Our
daughter married at 34, has two teenage daughters and lives
in Hood River, OR.