Need Help?

Joey Olszewski

is a suicide attempt survivor.
this is his story

Joey Olszewski

is a suicide attempt survivor.

"I survived a suicide attempt."

I interviewed Joey Olszewski in McCarren Park in Brooklyn on December 20, 2011. I found out in the middle of our interview that we were just feet from where he made his attempt. Below, he discusses his methods of coping with his attempt as well as the reality that mental health takes real work to achieve, and it isn’t always easy.

Joey Olszewski is a suicide attempt survivor.Eventually, it just got to the point where I was just sick of being sad like that, and I just got real, real positive. I changed my group of friends. We abide by this philosophy… I’m not sure if we invented it, but it’s just something we just do to each other to remind each other to keep our heads up, because we’ve all struggled with these issues. At least, the friends that I have now that are a bit more mature like that.

‘P.M.A. – Positive Mental Attitude’ is what we call it. If anything bad ever happens, we always go and hang out with each other and provide that solidarity, but it’s not commiseration. It’s always like, ‘Listen, you’re going through this shit, but you got this. It’s not the end of the world.’ That’s the most important thing to remember, I think.

Right now, I feel like I’m doing so much better. I still think about it sometimes, but it’s…I’m struggling for the right way to phrase this. It’s difficult because, unless you’ve gone through that, unless you’ve gotten to the point where you’re willing to end your reality because it’s gotten that crappy, it’s hard to explain to someone. They’re just like, ‘Why would you ever want to do that?’ They can’t relate at all.

My perception of reality has changed, I think. I feel so grateful for the things that I thought used to bring me down. Like empathy, humility—things that would be unrelated to me entirely. I would read something in the news and I would just get so depressed by it and now I’m grateful that I have that much compassion for the world.

Want to support Live Through This?

Live Through This is made possible in part by donations from incredible humans like you. If the project moves you and you have even a single dollar to spare, please consider donating. Every dollar donated goes straight back into the project. These funds allow for gear, web real estate and hosting, travel associated with the project, professional fees, conference attendance, and more.

For more ways to support Live Through This, be sure to check out the store, join in on the #STAY campaign by sharing a picture of you in your Live Through This gear, and subscribe to our mailing list!

About Live Through This
Live Through This is a series of portraits and true stories of suicide attempt survivors. Its mission is to change public attitudes about suicide for the better; to reduce prejudice and discrimination against attempt survivors; to provide comfort to those experiencing suicidality by letting them know that they’re not alone and tomorrow is possible; to give insight to those who have trouble understanding suicidality, and catharsis to those who have lost a loved one; and to be used as a teaching tool for clinicians in training, or anyone else who might benefit from a deeper understanding of first-person experiences with suicide.
More Information
Tax-deductible donations are made possible by Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization, which sponsors Live Through This. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Live Through This must be made payable to Fractured Atlas only and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Please Stay
If you’re hurting, afraid, or need someone to talk to, please reach out to one of the resources below. Someone will reach back. You are so deeply valued, so incomprehensibly loved—even when you can’t feel it—and you are worth your life.
Find Help

You can reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline by dialing 988. Trans Lifeline is at 877-565-8860 (U.S.) or 877-330-6366 (Canada). The Trevor Project is at 866-488-7386. If you’d like to talk to a peer, contains links to warmlines in every state. If you’re not in the U.S., click here for a link to crisis centers around the world. If you don’t like talking on the phone, you can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741-741.

NOTE: Many of these resources utilize restrictive interventions, like active rescues (wellness or welfare checks) involving law enforcement or emergency services. If this is a concern for you, you can ask if this is a possibility at any point in your conversation. Trans Lifeline does not implement restrictive interventions for suicidal people without express consent. A warmline is also less likely to do this, but you may want to double-check their policies.

Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.
Live Through This is dedicated to the lives of so many friends and family members lost to suicide over the years. If you would like to add the name of a loved one to this list, please email me.