How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me, Revised Edition: One Person's Guide to Suicide Prevention

How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me, Revised Edition: One Person's Guide to Suicide Prevention

by Susan Rose Blauner


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Suicide has touched the lives of nearly half of all Americans, yet it is rarely talked about openly. In her highly acclaimed book, Susan Blauner—a survivor of multiple suicide attempts—offers guidance and hope for those contemplating ending their lives and for their loved ones.

“Each word written with thoughtful intent; each story told with the deepest of honesty and humility, and in doing so Blauner puts forward a life-saving book."—Daniel J. Reidenberg, PsyD, Executive Director, Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (

I continued to romanticize my death by suicide: who would find me; what I’d look like. I spent hundreds of hours planning my funeral, imagining the remorse of my family and friends. I wrote good-bye letters, composed wills, and disrupted the lives of everyone close to me. Then reality hit.”—Susan Rose Blauner

The statistics on suicide are staggering. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 800,000 people die by suicide every year, which is one person every 40 seconds, and for each completed suicide there may be twenty or more attempts.

In How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me, Susan Blauner is the perfect emissary for a message of hope and a program of action for these millions of people. A survivor of multiple suicide attempts, she explains the complex feelings and fantasies that surround suicidal thoughts. In a direct, nonjudgmental, and loving voice, she offers affirmations and suggestions for those experiencing life-ending thoughts, and for their friends and family.

With an introduction by Bernie Siegel, M.D., this important, timely book has now been updated with a revised resources section, and a new chapter on the author’s experiences since the book’s initial publication.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062936387
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 06/25/2019
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 335,267
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Susan Rose Blauner, MSW, LCSW, is a writer, motivational speaker, artist, singer, and educator who changes the way people think about suicidal thoughts, suicidal behavior and mental disease. She is the 2002 recipient of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Survivor of the Year Award for Distinguished Creativity in Suicide Prevention and transformed eighteen years of suicidal ideation, three suicide gestures, multiple psychiatric hospitalizations and decades of therapy into the life-saving resource, How I Stayed Alive When My Brain Was Trying to Kill Me: One Person’s Guide to Suicide Prevention. Susan presents motivational keynotes and seminars throughout the United States designed to destigmatize mental illness; enlighten practitioners, educators, first responders and military personnel; and empower individuals and families affected by mental illness and suicide. She has appeared on Good Morning America, American Family, and in the documentary A Secret Best Not Kept. Following a 2008 breast cancer diagnosis, two surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation, Susan went on to earn a master’s degree in social work from Simmons College in 2015, at the age of 50. She now lives in New England with her dog, Fiona, and continues to find ways to enhance her enjoyment of life. For more information, visit

Table of Contents

If you need immediate assistance, please call 1-800-273-8255 1-800-273-TALK

1 So You Think You Want To Die?

Hello 3

The Reality of Suicidal Fantasy 7

Moderation and Time Limits 10

Me 11

Finding Life Essence 23

Change (Arghhh) and Choices 25

2 Outthinking Suicide

Breathing 31

The Language of Suicide 34

The Neuron Superhighway 39

The Grim Reaper 44

Brain Style 47

Recognizing and Avoiding Triggers 50

Stopping the Snowball 54

Finding Relief 56

3 Tricks of the Trade

Trick #1 Asking for Help 61

Trick #2 Emergency Contacts 66

Trick #3 A Crisis Plan 71

Trick #4 Feelings 83

Identifying Feelings 84

Feelings Chart 87

Feelings Galore List 89

Tracing Feelings Back 90

Stating a Feeling 94

Trick #5 Feelings Versus Facts 95

Trick #6 The Brady Bunch Syndrome 98

Trick #7 Spirituality, Nature, Meditation 100

Spirituality 100

Nature 108

Meditation 114

Trick #8 Acting As If 119

Trick #9 Halt 120

Hungry 121

Angry 127

Lonely 130

Tired 134

Trick #10 Keeping a Journal 138

Trick #11 Tasks and Activities-Healthy Diversions 142

Trick #12 The Telephone Lifeline and Phone Lists 144

Trick #13 Contracts for Safety 146

Trick #14 Brain Food 150

Trick #15 Therapy 154

Trick #16 Vitamin "P" 162

Trick #17 "Oh, What a Beautiful Morning"- Sayings and Affirmations 166

Trick #18 Mirror Work and Inner Dialoguing 172

Trick #19 Service-Helping Others 176

Trick #20 Movement and Exercise 180

Trick #21 Sound and Color 185

Sound 185

Color 189

Trick #22 Support Groups 190

Trick #23 Structure 192

Trick #24 Hospitalization 194

Trick #25 What About an Afterlife? 198

4 There is Hope! Letters from My Therapist, Family, and Friends

Honesty 205

Sylvia's Perspective 206

A Brother's Walk on Eggshells 209

Watching Her Husband, My Brother 210

Like a Holiday from Adulthood 211

God Doesn't Make Junk! 213

Sue's Song 215

Rich with Humanity Hope, and Change 216

5 Helping the Suicidal Thinker

Introduction 221

Risk Factors and Warning Signs 227

Suicide Facts and Statistics 235


What I Heard Versus What I Needed to Hear 237

Delivery and Timing 242

Expressing Your Feelings 245

Acknowledging Their Pain 247

Speaking from Love 248


Secrets Are Deadly 250

It's Okay to Talk About It 253

It's a Family Challenge 256

Change Is Possible 257


Listening Well 259

Respecting Boundaries While Taking Action 262

Practicing Patience and Compassion 265

Getting Educated and Finding Your Own Support 266

6 Until We Meet Again

Geese (a poem written by Christopher Brehl) 271

I Recognize … 272

Destiny 274

Afterword for the Revised Edition 275

7 Hotlines, Websites, and Other Resources

Hotlines and Suicide Prevention Organizations Crisis Hotlines 283

Hotlines in Canada 286

Online Crisis Chat 287

Crisis Text Messaging 288

Organizations 289

Organizations in Canada 304

Additional Websites

Suicide Prevention 306

Suicide Attempters 306

Suicide Survivors 306

Military 307

Mobile Phone Apps

Behavioral Health 308

Depression and Suicide 308

Military 309

Twelve Step Organizations Book Lists

Books Useful to Me 312

Memoirs 314

General Works 314

On Youth 315

On the Elderly 316

For Professionals 316

For Survivors 317

Notes 319

Index 325

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