He survived suicide. Here's what he wants other survivors to know.

Trigger warning: plain talk about suicide.

Jamie DeWolf has seen a lot in his life.

The 38-year-old artist and performer, who happens to be the great-grandson of L. Ron Hubbard, was raised attending "apocalypse rapture camps" and was often sent to a school psychiatrist for his macabre writings.


Photo provided by Jamie DeWolf.

DeWolf later made a career as a circus ringmaster, filmmaker, and, most recently, a celebrated spoken-word performer.

"Poetry and spoken word became an outlet for everything that was naked and confessional," he told Upworthy. "There's something raw about simply telling your story without pretense, without props, just you and a microphone. There's no hiding up there, it's just you and your ghosts."

Jamie recently appeared at the Snap Judgment storytelling event, where he put one of his biggest ghosts front and center: suicide.

As the survivor of a suicide attempt, DeWolf knows more about the subject than most.

When asked what the biggest misconception about suicide is, Jamie's answer was stark and revealing: "That people actually want to die."

"Suicide attempts are often a way of taking a form of control when you feel like you have no power left," he said. "It's a self-destruct button when everything is collapsing around you. It can feel like the last choice you have left."

Jamie DeWolf performs at Snap Judgment. Image and GIFs via Snap Judgment Films/YouTube.

The story Jamie told at Snap Judgment is about a friend of his who sent him a suicide note via text message.

"She was one of the most fierce and funny people I'd ever met, so it was shocking when it happened," said DeWolf. "It seemed to come out of nowhere."

Jamie's friend was found face-down in her own vomit after washing down 28 Vicodin with a bottle of Jack Daniel's. The most shocking thing, though, was that after being taken to the hospital for a stomach pump nearly two days later, Jamie's friend survived.

"They're not sure how she survived. It was a miracle she didn't pray for," he says in the poem. After waking up in the hospital, she called Jamie, the only person she knew would understand.

Jamie knows firsthand how difficult the journey from attempted suicide back to everyday life can be.

"You can feel humiliated that the world knows you gave up," he says. "You can feel weak, like you have no skin left and everything is too bright, too raw to deal with."

People who survive suicide attempts can find themselves in state of shock, feeling numb knowing what they almost did, Jamie says, and the fear that people will call them "a coward, a quitter, [or] crazy" is a real one.

If people aren't empathetic, Jamie says to cut them out of your life and move on. "You want people around that are grateful you're still here. "

In 2013, 1.3 million people attempted suicide — and those who survived had to re-adjust to a life they didn't think they'd be living.

While each story is different, Jamie believes the lessons he learned from his survival can be passed on.

"Go back to your childhood joys if you have to. Read a comic book. Go on roller coasters. Watch your favorite movie again. Eat some goddamn ice cream. But most importantly, learn to laugh about it if you have to," he advises.

Surviving a suicide attempt can be a strange and unsettling second chance — if you know someone who's gone through it, sometimes just being there for them is enough.

"We're all broken in our own way," Jamie says. "But we all got duct tape for each other."

Being there can be as simple as being a safe space where they aren't made to feel ashamed or blamed for their actions.

"You don't even have to ask them why; the answers will come eventually," Jamie says. "Don't blame them. Be gentle to them, and tell them how excited you are to have them back. Ask them what adventures they want to do next in our short time on the planet. Living is the best form of revenge. Punch today in the face."

Watch Jamie's full performance here:


True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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