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TEDActive 2011

JD Schramm: Break the silence for suicide attempt survivors

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Views 1,634,923

Even when our lives appear fine from the outside, locked within can be a world of quiet suffering, leading some to the decision to end their life. At TEDYou, JD Schramm asks us to break the silence surrounding suicide and suicide attempts, and to create much-needed resources to help people who reclaim their life after escaping death. Resources: http://t.co/wsNrY9C

- Communicator
JD Schramm teaches future business leaders both the theoretical and practical aspects of communication. Full bio

From all outward appearances,
00:15
John had everything going for him.
00:18
He had just signed the contract
00:21
to sell his New York apartment
00:23
at a six-figure profit,
00:25
and he'd only owned it for five years.
00:27
The school where he graduated from with his master's
00:30
had just offered him a teaching appointment,
00:32
which meant not only a salary,
00:34
but benefits for the first time in ages.
00:36
And yet, despite everything going really well for John,
00:40
he was struggling,
00:43
fighting addiction and a gripping depression.
00:45
On the night of June 11th, 2003,
00:50
he climbed up to the edge
00:52
of the fence on the Manhattan Bridge
00:54
and he leaped to the treacherous waters below.
00:57
Remarkably --
01:02
no, miraculously --
01:04
he lived.
01:06
The fall shattered his right arm,
01:09
broke every rib that he had,
01:12
punctured his lung,
01:14
and he drifted in and out of consciousness
01:16
as he drifted down the East River,
01:18
under the Brooklyn Bridge
01:21
and out into the pathway of the Staten Island Ferry,
01:23
where passengers on the ferry
01:26
heard his cries of pain,
01:28
contacted the boat's captain
01:30
who contacted the Coast Guard
01:32
who fished him out of the East River
01:34
and took him to Bellevue Hospital.
01:36
And that's actually where our story begins.
01:39
Because once John committed himself
01:42
to putting his life back together --
01:44
first physically, then emotionally,
01:47
and then spiritually --
01:50
he found that there were very few resources available
01:52
to someone who has attempted to end their life
01:55
in the way that he did.
01:57
Research shows
02:00
that 19 out of 20 people
02:02
who attempt suicide
02:04
will fail.
02:06
But the people who fail
02:09
are 37 times more likely to succeed
02:11
the second time.
02:14
This truly is
02:17
an at-risk population
02:19
with very few resources to support them.
02:21
And what happens
02:24
when people try to assemble themselves back into life,
02:26
because of our taboos around suicide,
02:29
we're not sure what to say,
02:31
and so quite often we say nothing.
02:33
And that furthers the isolation
02:36
that people like John found themselves in.
02:38
I know John's story very well
02:43
because I'm John.
02:45
And this is, today,
02:49
the first time in any sort of public setting
02:52
I've ever acknowledged
02:55
the journey that I have been on.
02:57
But after having lost a beloved teacher in 2006
03:01
and a good friend last year to suicide,
03:04
and sitting last year at TEDActive,
03:08
I knew that I needed to step out of my silence
03:11
and past my taboos
03:14
to talk about an idea worth spreading --
03:16
and that is that people
03:19
who have made the difficult choice
03:21
to come back to life
03:24
need more resources and need our help.
03:26
As the Trevor Project says, it gets better.
03:30
It gets way better.
03:33
And I'm choosing to come out
03:36
of a totally different kind of closet today
03:38
to encourage you, to urge you,
03:40
that if you are someone
03:43
who has contemplated or attempted suicide,
03:45
or you know somebody who has,
03:49
talk about it; get help.
03:52
It's a conversation worth having
03:55
and an idea worth spreading.
03:58
Thank you.
04:01
(Applause)
04:03

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About the speaker:

JD Schramm - Communicator
JD Schramm teaches future business leaders both the theoretical and practical aspects of communication.

Why you should listen

A seasoned communicator and entrepreneur, JD Schramm teaches the theoretical and practical aspects of effective communication as a lecturer in management at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. At Stanford, he has led the development and launch of the Mastery in Communication Initiative to help GSB students improve their mastery of speaking and writing.
 
He says: "I cultivate dreams in myself and others by building bridges, inspiring greatness, encouraging growth, and living passionately."

More profile about the speaker
JD Schramm | Speaker | TED.com