About JF Whitaker
After a six-year Navy tour and serving in Vietnam, JF Whitaker returned only to experience PTSD, exposure to Agent Orange, skin cancer, depression, and alcoholism, which brought him to the brink of suicide. He is now an author, recognized thought leader, and business driver specializing in organizational change management and leadership development. His memoir tells about his journey of survival and empowerment.
Before I Died
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.
Hear JF Whitaker share excerpts directly from his book on Youtube
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