"In the moments and seconds of darkness and despair, know you are not alone"

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The Day
Before I Died

JF Whitaker

A memoir of an innocent Irish Catholic boy on his journey from the quiet New England coast and the apple orchards of Pennsylvania to Vietnam and ultimately to the brink of suicide. Traversing minefields both at home and abroad, the author shares these intensely personal stories of overcoming the scars of war, disfigurement, emotional abuse, sexual orientation, and bullying. It is an intimate look at the many triggers that led him to consider suicide and the path of resilience and strength that kept him alive.


Life became small, very small
Shrinking slowly from forever to this day, this moment, this second
Defined by the moments and seconds of life
We are lost and found in those moments

Defined by the worse that’s ever happened
Shrinking from bright and shiny to dim and dark
Living in fear and sleeping with death
Not much to lose

The quiet solution arrives
Unbidden on translucent wings
Not a cry for help or a threat
A simple step to brightness and forever

For Those Who Survived

You didn’t let the moments and seconds of pain, abuse, or bullying take you out. You didn’t choose a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

You recognized that resenting the abusers and bullies gives them what they want…power, your power. They are the victims. Their life is so small, they must steal power, joy and beauty from others. Report them as the thieves they are and move on.

You did not allow yourself to be defined by the moments and seconds of sadness, hurt, and loneliness. You were not defined by the worst thing that’s ever happened to you. Focusing on the problems magnifies them. If focused on the problems, we risk shrinking our life to be safe and free of fear. Our lives may become so small we think we have nothing to lose. Living in the prisons we create limits the possibility of finding a solution.

Know there is a solution.

We did not become the victim of our stories. Our story is just that. . . a story. These are experiences that happen to us on our journey to our own unique reality. These experiences are the foundations of our strength and wisdom, and they make us who we become.

A life is lost to suicide every 40 seconds

20 Service men and women commit suicide every day*

The second leading cause of death for teens and young adults between the ages of 15 to 24 is suicide** 

* VA National Suicide Data Report 2005–2016 Office of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, September 2018.

** Data Source: National Vital Statistics System, National Center for Health Statistics, CDC  


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