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Nevada’s suicide crisis: Second chance in life offers opportunity to help

Sheila Gardner
Nevada Appeal News Service

The last thing Traci Weimer remembers about the morning she tried to kill herself is drinking a gallon and a half of vodka.

“I was on my third half-gallon,” she recalled of the Aug. 31, 2007, incident. “I’d been up all night long drinking and I was depressed and crying.”

At the time, Weimer thought she had plenty to be sad about: A nasty divorce, troubles with her boyfriend, economic woes.

“I just decided to drink myself into oblivion,” Weimer recalled.

She has no recollection of writing a brief suicide note or grabbing a gas can and setting a recreational vehicle on fire while she was inside.

“The gal whose property it was on said there was a tiny crack in the window of the side where I was. She put a garden hose in there, turned on the water, and called 911,” Weimer said.

Weimer, 44, was taken by helicopter to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno and woke up six days later.

She was charged with attempted third-degree arson and sentenced to probation.

Terms included abstaining from alcohol, counseling and a 12-step program.

Two years later, Weimer can look on the incident with gratitude – that she survived and found joy in life.

“I wake up now in the morning and enjoy every moment,” she said.

But Weimer has had to work hard.

“There was a time after it happened that I still had suicidal thoughts, but now I have tools to deal with them,” she said.

Weimer’s tools include a 12-step program, breathing techniques, prayer, meditation and “being able to accept everything in the past and moving on, knowing you can’t change that, but you can change the outcome of the future.”

When she thinks about the world without her in it, Weimer is reflective.

“I wouldn’t be able to look forward to my first grandchild,” she said. “My son is in Iraq, and I wouldn’t be able to pray for his safety. He would not be able to see his mom in recovery. He would just have to tell people I committed suicide.”

It wasn’t Weimer’s first attempt to take her life.

In 2005, she took an overdose of pills and spent a few days in the hospital.

There was little intervention, and Weimer said she kept drinking.

“It was more of an effort to get attention,” Weimer said. “I had no meaning to my life.”

Today, she is a student at Western Nevada College, hoping to earn a master’s in psychology so she can work as a drug and alcohol counselor.

She has a long way to go, but sees higher education “as a way to give back what was given to me. I’ve turned my life around for the better.”

If she had an opportunity to speak with someone contemplating suicide, Weimer would say, “this, too, is passing,” with the emphasis on the here and now instead of the past or future.

“Because I am blessed to have survived, I would say there are so many more things in life compared to no life at all,” Weimer said. “I was homeless at one time, I survived that. I had it all, and I survived that, too.”

She became involved in the Suicide Prevention Network of Douglas County as part of her effort to be of use, and to educate people on what to look for in their loved ones.

“To be honest, it’s very hard to see the signs, but I think it would help if more people were aware of what to look for,” Weimer said.

“We’re so good at disguising how we feel even to our husbands and our children,” she said. “We put on a happy face, yet we’re torn up inside.”

Creating community awareness will remove some of the stigma attached to suicide, Weimer said.

“People are afraid to say, ‘I need help,'” she said.

Every time Weimer tells her story, she said someone will come to her and say they are going through the same feelings.

“If there’s one person I can reach, then I will know I have done something right,” she said. “I am here to say that you are not guaranteed a second chance in life, so please don’t take the first. Remember that if you don’t think anybody cares, I do.” Ĵ