I had grown up in a home filled with sadness, fear and depression. I wanted to escape to a safe place and get away from the adults that seemed preoccupied with making my life hell. I went into the woods and with a rifle and shot myself through the chest. When the bullet hit me; the reason why was no longer important to me. I thought it was to late, once a bullet leaves the end of the gun its to late and no one knew where I was. I hated I quite at life, I hated I let the adults hurt me to the point I thought this was my only option and thought life was worth living in spite of them. So, I decided to not lay there and just bleed out and die. When I woke up in the ICU I wanted to celebrate I'd survived. 4 days after the shooting the Space Shuttle Challenger went down and I watched it live on TV. It was all I could do to manage a cup of ice chips let alone be confronted by anyone in white lab coats with what I had done; my first thought...I had a shared experience with the crew. Adults familiar with what happened to me only told me "Boy, you were damn close...really close." I was afraid to look at how close meant. I have sensations of my chest being opened up; distant thoughts of telling them I was fine and it was not necessary to keep working on me. My new lease on life was overshadowed with this word: stigma. They told me to create a lie; I could never let them know what I had done. They told me: You should have had your legs cut off or burned in a fire people would see those scars and be more patient with you. I was afraid; I had a thoracotmy scar from my left chest muscle almost to my spine. Chest tube drains and of course when I saw the bullet hole for the first time I thought I was going to pass out. They left a portion of the bullet in me; on top of the sense of having lost my life...I felt like a reanimated monster the villagers were going to track down with torches and ropes should my secret get out: You shot yourself, you tried to kill yourself. I suffered with violent memories. I cant count the number of times I've been shot. I can still see the dreadful flash of light because light is faster than sound; then the god awful roar and the sense of my chest imploding. I take asprin like candy to blunt the constant ache. When I am stressed my PTSD gets worse. I have had mood swings, inability to concentrate so it has been a struggle keep employment. I got sick of people heaping insults on me : next time you shoot yourself aim higher, boy that was stupid of you, you chose the cowards way...or you should get over it...not focus on the past. Though my chest hurts all the time, a bullet hole still looks at me. I only try and open up to my society to talk about the lasting effects my suicide had on my life and not harp on why I shot myself. I could've cared less why when the gun went off. I had counseling for a year and was told "own it boy you shot yourself." I've been homeless, divorced once before, denied careers because of the history, all I believe from PTSD. Yet; I remain thankful 26 years later I'm alive. I am trying to give back. This weekend I spoke openly at a small community gathering about suicide. I offered up my story; I tried for 7 months to get peoples attention and it went unheeded. I have good days and bad days. I feel like I have to constantly keep one shoulder against the door to keep the beast at bay; those god awful memories. Tasting the gun powder in my mouth. At times it feels like I have been snatched away from the present to the past and back to that cold evening in the woods. I can see my breath once more and feel the bolt close in my hands. There was so much blood. I talk myself down from the ceiling: those memories mean I'm alive. I wanted to live and continue to do so. I would have missed out on so much in life. I don't have much in the way of "success" what society considers. After the shot I thought of one reason to live for; a reason to hope for despite the reasons why I had shot myself...I wanted to be a father. I wanted to offer a safe and loving home to someone I did not have. My hearts desire has been granted to me. I would have missed this treasure. It has only been the last year I have addressed the PTSD. For 25 years I have lived with this monster and never knew that it had a name. I never desired to take my life again; I died a violent death once before..no thank you. I was granted my hearts desire; I have two more: To be a goodsteward with my life and to go peacful in my sleep at an old age having lived a full life.