Sunday, March 27, 2016

Peyton's Heart Is Out There...Literally

I think you should automatically donate your organs because that would turn the balance of organ donation in a huge way. I would donate whatever anybody would take, and I'd probably do the cremation bit. -George Clooney

The other day, I was talking to another coach about the #PeytonHeartProject.  I hadn't seen him in a while and had given him a heart from the ever present bag I carry with me.  He thanked me for the heart and said that it was a good thing that Peyton's heart was out there, to which I replied, "literally." I then explained how we had donated Peyton's heart, lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, and corneas, so not only are there figurative hearts out there, his literal one is as well.

It was at that point that I began to think about not only the young man that received Peyton's heart, but those that received his other organs.  I know of two out there in the world.  The first one to contact me was Leslie Moya from Edinburgh, Texas.  Her daughter Carmel was the recipient of one of Peyton's corneas.  I wrote about this experience in my post Peyton Gave Us Hope.  The other is Brenda Gonzales of Kingsville, Texas.  Her father David received one of Peyton's kidneys.  I have talked to her on several occasions and plan on meeting her and her family in June on a quick vacation to Corpus Christi.

That leaves the others that I want to know about.  How is the woman that received Peyton's other kidney and pancreas?  Does she find herself watching old episodes of Dr. Who?  What about the two people that were given part of Peyton's liver?  Do they make Nutella sandwiches and crunchy Cheetos for lunch for an entire week straight?  Does the woman that received both of his lungs enjoy talking at length about about nothing in particular?  What about the boy that got Peyton's heart?  Did it skip a beat when you first saw the beautiful girl in science?

Thanks to TOSA, the Texas Organ Sharing Alliance, I know they are doing well, and for that I am grateful.  I take solace in knowing that losing Peyton allowed others to live, nor do I harbor any remorse about the decision to give the gift of life.  It was the first positive thing to come out of Peyton's suicide, and is something that gave me hope.

Now here we are almost 18 months after Peyton's death and his recipient's second life.  I have my good days and bad.  I get through some days with no problem at all, and others where the pain is overwhelming and the tears flow freely.  It is on those days that I take comfort knowing a part of Peyton is still alive out there bringing sight and life, and that most of all, I take comfort knowing his heart is out there...literally.

*If you are interested in giving the gift of life, please check out for information about organ donation.  

Monday, March 21, 2016

Are You One Of The 25 People To Survive Your Suicide Attempt?

According to the American Association of Suicidology (based on a SAMHSA study)1, there are 25 attempts at suicide for every one success.

That really is a terrifying fact.  If you consider that there 41,149  reported suicides in the United States in the United States in 2013, according to the CDC, that means that there were over one million attempts that same year.  That is 2800 per day, 117 every hour, and 2.5 attempts every minute.  

In October of 2014, my 13 year old son Peyton became one of the 41,000 or so Americans to take their life that year.  That means when Peyton took his life, approximately 25 other people attempted to take their lives, but they were not successful.  I began to think about those other people, and wanted to ask them some questions.  

If you are one of those 25,  are you still with us?  I know on that day in October, things may have looked bleak, and at that point, it may have seemed like your only option was to take your life, but I am hoping by now you realize that you were wrong, and praying that you got the help you need in order to deal with your pain.  If you are not with us, I hope you have found the peace you have been seeking and been released from your pain.  

If you are one of those 25, what drove you to even attempt?  I really want to understand.  Peyton left no note, never told any one, and left us all shocked.  I have talked to others who have lost loved ones to suicide, and surprisingly, some weren't surprised that their loved one took their own lives.  That doesn't mean that it was any less heartbreaking for them, but previous attempts. long histories of mental illness, substance abuse, and other issues led them to see what was coming.  On the other hand, there are those, like me, who never saw it coming.  In hindsight, we saw what we now realize were the warning signs, but they only make sense now that we have educated ourselves.  So what was it that finally pushed you to the breaking point?  Was it one particular issue?  Was it a culmination of things?  How bad was the pain that drove you?  Help me understand.  

If you are one of those 25, what was your reaction when you woke up alive?  Were you glad that you lived?  Did you regret your failure?  How did your family react?  Are you even able to answer this question?  I wonder what would have become of Peyton had he survived.  We were told by doctors that he would have suffered extensive brain damage due to the lack of oxygen,, that he would need long term care, but doctors can be wrong. Would there be more attempts until he succeeded?  Would he have be grateful for a second chance at life?  Would he embrace this second chance and make the most of it? 

Unfortunately, I will never know the answer to any of these questions, but I am interested in knowing.  When I talk to other people about suicide, I can talk about the aftermath and effects Peyton's suicide had on me and my family.  I can talk about how my life was before and after.  I can even make suppositions about how my life would have changed had Peyton lived, but unfortunately, Peyton was one of the 113 that defied the odds that day and passed.