Suicide survivor shares her story
ST. JOSEPH COUNTY —
A St. Joseph County woman is sharing her story of trauma, depression, and suicide. She is a survivor spreading hope as the public health crisis that is suicide grows. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reported suicide rates have increased by 25 percent across the US since 1999.
Joan McClendon will tell you, she is in a good place now.
“I am a survivor. A victorious survivor. No longer a victim,” says McClendon.
Her struggle to get there, has been a journey.
“I have learned now it's okay to feel pain and then it passes,” says McClendon.
McClendon grew up in Philadelphia. She experienced a violent home with physical and sexual abuse.
“It was a very toxic environment. Really toxic,” says McClendon who has lived in South Bend for 19 years.
That trauma followed her throughout her life in the form of anxiety and depression.
“For me, it came in waves,” says McClendon, “so sometimes there were times where I felt like I am okay and then the next thing it just felt like this dark cloud would hover over me sometimes for days, sometimes, for weeks.”
Throughout her adult years she considered suicide.
“I think I thought about it and entertained the thought about it a lot. I think I kind of got right up to it,” says McClendon.
Mental Health Experts say McClendon is not alone.
Public Health Crisis
“Suicide is a public health crisis,” says Michael Deranek the Senior Program Director for Bashor Children’s Home and a licensed social worker.
Deranek says, and other experts agree, suicide is most often preventable. That is because there are warning signs and most people who consider killing themselves, don't want to die.
“I think at the end of the day most individuals, when they're struggling with mental health, when they may be feeling suicidal, what they really need is someone to come alongside and care and be there for them and say, I care about you, I value you, I love you, and I want to do whatever it takes to help you through this period of time,” says Deranek.
McClendon says a combination of therapy, faith, and friends and family is what saved her.
“I want to be that voice of hope,” says McClendon, “I want to say, you know what, I've been there. I've been in this place where it's been dark but I also know the other side.”
She hopes her story will inspire others to share their struggles and get help.
Warning signs and risk factors of suicide: https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/
Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255