Rene Severin is welder, ironworker, and boilermaker in Brooklyn, NY. He was 21 when I interviewed him on November 2, 2014.
Some guy... I really want to meet this guy. I researched my story and I can’t find anyone, but this guy slapped me. He slapped the shit out of me.
He was like, “Hey. Hey, wake up. Wake up.”
And I just heard, “He’s breathing.”
They called an ambulance for me. I fully woke up in the ambulance in terrible pain, terrible pain. All I could think about was my mom at the time.
They were just like, “Who do you want me to call?”
I was like, “My mom. My mom, right now.”
My family... we’re not really close, but it’s still family. They’re still there. We still do little gatherings or whatever. My aunt—one aunt that I never saw eye-to-eye with, ever—she was actually crying at the house.
She was like, “Rene, I can’t believe you went through this, I’m so sorry. I should have been more supportive.”
I hate when people start doing that, when they start trying to blame themselves. No, this is not on you. This is on me, and no one’s at blame but me. I don’t want to lay that burden on anyone. And I hated that.
They were like, “Oh, I should have done this or that.”
No, you shouldn't have done shit. I should have just talked to people instead of taking things into my own hands, but shit, it happens every day.
My family was there. My dad... I don’t really like my dad, per se, because he kind of fucked me over. He made me become a man when I didn’t want to be one. I’ve been working since I was 14 just to uphold the house, ‘cause he’s a scumbag. But I remember, at one point, he visited me in the hospital.
He was like, “My son, my son...”
I was filled with all these emotions: one, the heartbreak; then the pain; then going through the fact that I just tried to kill myself; and he was there.
I was just like, “You’re the last person I want to see right now.”
I literally said that. And I kind of broke his heart, I guess.
I was just like, “You’re putting this on yourself, dude. You weren’t there for shit. You weren’t there for my graduations. You didn’t take me to prom, you didn’t give me tips. I had to learn how to shave from YouTube. No, I don’t need you around.”
Even he tried to be there. I appreciated it, though. He was there, brought me my favorite cookies from back home. My dad’s from St. Lucia. My mom’s from Barbados. He brought me some of my favorite treats from back home. There’s these popsicles where they use the right amount of cream. They’re called Creamsicles. They’re just delicious, but they only make them in St. Lucia, the ones I like. They only make them in St. Lucia, on a mountain somewhere where you can’t buy it online or anything. He brought those over for me, and some cookies or whatever. He just tried to be there. Literally kid’s stuff. There’s nothing much he really could do. He doesn’t really know me as a man at all...
[My mom and my sister] were there steadfast. Yeah, beginning and end, they were there. It broke my heart to see my little sister crying. I was laying down in a hospital bed just bent out of shape... and she just starts bawling. She’s 13. She’ll be 14 in December. I spent her birthday in the freaking psych ward. That was a bummer. This year I gotta make it up to her. But yeah, seeing her cry just destroyed me...
Another thing that made me feel even worse: I was like, ‘My little sister. What if some guy comes along and fucks her over?’ ‘Cause guys aren’t saints. What if? Is she gonna do the same thing? Her seeing me go through this, does that make it seem okay?
I was just like, 'Fuck, what did I just do?' That’s something serious. I actually had to talk to her.
I was like, “What I did was irrational and this is something that shouldn’t be done without thought. You gotta talk to people first.”
She was like, “I understand.”
I was like, “If any boys come and love you up and break your heart, just talk to me. I’ll break their face and I’ll mend your heart better.”
When I said that, she was like, “Boys? Ew.” She’s still at that stage.
I was like, “Awesome, thank God.”
But my family was there. My mom. My poor mom. I put her through so much shit, man, from birth ‘til now.
Des: How were you treated by the staff at the hospital?
Rene: They all obviously knew why I was in there, what happened to me, and I didn’t really want to talk about it to anyone, so I was very quiet. They just kept trying to cheer me up. They were very cheerful people, surprisingly. I just thought I was gonna be treated like shit because, you know, ‘This kid wanted to take his life.’
There were a couple people like that. I was on suicide watch. They keep someone with you, and those people, they kind of looked down on me. I guess it’s not their job. Their job is to do things in the hospital. They move things or do blood samples, but here they are, just sitting with me. One lady was complaining. Well, I heard her mumbling on the phone in the bathroom, but still I heard it.
She was like, “This fucking kid. He tried to kill himself and I have to watch him.”
I was just like, ‘Really? Fuck you. You can go. I don’t need you.’
Once I got to the psych ward, I still was on suicide watch, but they had cameras or whatever, so I wasn’t watched like a hawk. They tried to put me on medication.
I was like, “No, no, no. No, thank you, don’t need it. If I really need it, you guys will know. Right now I don’t.”
They were pretty alright. I did some support groups.
I really want to go back there and visit some of the people if they’re still there, just to say thank you, ‘cause some of them were really there for me. I needed someone to talk to here and there. It’d be 1:00 in the morning and I was on suicide watch, so at night there’s someone at the door—not in my room, but near my room, so they heard me move. If I'd toss and turn at night, they’d freaking peek into the room to see what I was doing.
But yeah, it was 2:00 in the morning and I just woke up and had a really bad dream. I started talking to one of the aides and they just talked back.
They were like, “Oh, it’s gonna be alright. Don’t worry about it. Things will get better. You’re here now. Just live and learn, you know?” There were a lot of people there that just looked out for me, basically.
The food was horrible. It was horrible, but I just threw salt on it. I was like, “This is amazing.” I just said it was amazing and whatever. Mind over matter.
Once I left the psych ward, though, everyone else in the hospital was just a total douchebag. I went to go sign up for therapy, ‘cause they were like, “Alright, you’re leaving the hospital, you have to do psychiatric outpatient. You have to set up therapy meetings or whatever.” And I met the [therapist]...
When I was talking to him, he just started belittling me a little bit.
I was like, “Wait, are you supposed to help me, or make me more depressed? What the fuck’s going on here?”
He was like, “Why’d you try to kill yourself?”
I started telling him my story.
He was like, “You see, you young kids…”
I’m just like, “Dude, you fucking helping me or not? You’re supposed to appeal to my better nature. Even if it’s total bullshit, you’re supposed to just make me happy. What the fuck?”
The worst thing is, I have to pay for this. $80,000 in the hole for this whole incident. Eighty grand. I’m happy I’m here, but still, when you leave the psych ward, you’re back in the world. You’re back in New York. This is New York. People are assholes.
Des: Do you feel like you live with a mental illness?
Rene: No, I don’t feel like I deal with a mental illness, but who’s not crazy? Shit. We live in New York. Who’s not crazy? But no, I don’t feel like I suffer from any mental illnesses. I do feel like there are days when I do get depressed, but it’ll be a depression where—I don’t even know if that’s the right word—I’m gonna say sadness, because I feel like depression is a little bit more serious than what I’m making it to be. I have these moments of sadness where I’ll think about things, and I’ll think about it too much, and it will just get to me. But then, a little while after, after I’ve thought about everything on the topic, I’ll switch back and just be like, 'You know what? Just keep going. Look at this way, look at it that way.' Just talking to myself... just processing it. So no, no mental illness. I just try and stay positive.
Des: Is suicide still an option for you?
Rene: No, it’s not. It can’t be an option for me because I’ve already attempted and I [lived]. For me to go back to that point where I feel like suicide is an option, that’s just like throwing away everything that I’ve worked for—all the meditation I did, all the time that I took just thinking about life and thinking about the greater things in life. That’s just throwing it all away and it’s just a waste, ‘cause then it’s just a waste of life. A waste of life, waste of time, and why? Why? You just gotta keep fighting. There’s no point in giving up again once you’ve already given up.
I told one of the doctors in the psych ward that, after I jumped, when I woke up, pretty much everything that I was stressed over just dropped with me. It was gone. It's still there. It lingers, but the root of it is just gone. I’ve done with it, ‘cause I attempted what I did and I’m here. I survived, so I can’t go back there again at all.
It’s not an option at all. I got way too much to live for. We all have a lot to live for. We got family, we got friends. Even if we’re not close to our family, we got people around us that it will impact somehow and, yeah, it can’t be an option. It just can’t be. There’s too much riding on it. You just have to hope and just keep on fighting.
If you’re feeling suicidal, please talk to somebody. You can reach the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you don't like the phone, check out Lifeline Crisis Chat or Crisis Text Line. If you're not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world.
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