About me

I’m Cara Anna. I’ve been a journalist since the age of 16. Most recently I was reporting from China for a large news organization, and I’m now based in New York. This blog and what I say in it has nothing to do with my job or my employer.

I should add that suicide is not at the center of my life, but it’s part of what has shaped me. And yes, I’ve attempted suicide myself. At the moment, I feel the need to talk about it. I’m also a member of the attempt survivor task force with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and the recently formed attempt survivor task force for the American Association of Suicidology. Again, the opinions on this blog are my own.

Please see my first blog post for a quick idea of my thinking. As I update this several months later, I can see how that thinking is changing a bit.

Because life is far more than this issue, here are a few things I love: Hiking, biking, Chengdu taxi drivers, good nonfiction writing, smart and supportive editors, the mountains of Pakistan and beyond, Central Park, public interest lawyers, Bollywood films.

You can follow this blog, and another site that I edit for the American Association of Suicidology, on Twitter at @AboutSuicide.

24 thoughts on “About me

  1. Hi Cara Anna, It was a pleasure to meet you in person at the Occupy the APA events, and I wanted to “thank you” for your very important work. Peace, Love and Liberation, Daniel

  2. I was pleased to discover your blog after watching a TED talk. I too am a suicide survivor — March 20, 2012– so it’s not quite been a year.
    I spent 9 weeks at Menninger’s in Houston, after a week in acute care here in NW Montana (and I had self-admitted two weeks prior to the attempt, in a last ditch effort to find help). Since returning home, it has definitely been difficult to reintegrate and continue recovery, especially because of lack of support. I did talk to a group of local therapists several weeks ago about this subject, because I have been trying to encourage the acute care place to start a depression support group and they wanted me to present the issue to the therapeutic community. Our first support group meeting was last Thursday, and our next one is tomorrow. Only one other person came, but it was still good, and the two interns that are facilitating are enthusiastic. I am hopeful.
    So…thanks for what you’re doing……(and BTW, I have a daughter from China and a shared love of the country, I believe! And I met a lovely woman who taught at a Chengdu University several years ago — we were both touring Xi’an.)

    • I am so thankful for Cara. I am an attempt survivor…Feb 2012. After recovering, I began searching for people like me. How do I go on? How do I live now? How do I not hide my face forever in case people “know’? I found very little help out there. I found no books about people like me. I knew we were all HIDING.
      It feels as if things are finally changing, thank God.
      Debi, good for you for making things happen.
      Thank you both and I hope to meet you both sometime in the future.
      I watched “A Voice at the Table” and hope to become an advocate as well.

  3. Good morning Cara. A friend of mine forward your TedTalk article to me yesterday for review. Unfortunately, my family has experienced the suicides of our brothers Dr. Marc Beloff and Judge Adam Beloff . They were identical twins and died 11 years apart. It has been quite a journey understanding the circumstances surrounding their deaths but also attempting to see what emotional elements and influences through out their lives brought each of them to their final act. I can tell you there are so many absolutes in review but that there are just as many uncertainties in the journey of understanding. For me, being a brother and understanding the genetic connection has required transparency of my own life and pinpointing common overlapping behaviors as well as differences in our decision making. I am still gathering and writing the absolutes of events of their lives as well as the on going chaos associated with acting as the executor to Adam’s estate. I am hopeful that the conclusions I draw, based on absolutes and some hypothesis will be helpful in understand the epidemic of suicide in our society. I applaud you for living and writing with transparency of your own triumphs and struggles. I hope your journey and desire to inform leads you to personal pride. Best wishes for your bright future.

    • My heart goes out to you,Josh. I’m so sorry for your loss. Please share whatever you can learn from your brothers’ lives and deaths with the major agencies which deal openly with suicide. My beautiful, over-accomplished, mid- 30’s medical professional daughter died by suicide 15 months ago (a “SUCCESSFUL” suicide with no known prior attempt). I have now learned about 1 attempt 5 months earlier. There seems to be no centralized, credible place where we survivors can share what we discover.from our “psychological” autopsies that would be helpful for other people struggling with thoughts of taking their own lives. A lot on this blog seems to trivialize the dark hole where death seems like, and is, for that person in the moment, the only viable option. Intended or unintended is irrelevant for the person who successfully ends her life!!

      • Ruth, I am so very sorry for your loss. Yes, it is a very complex subject which can often lead to more questions than answers. I do know that there are many pieces to the puzzle that guides me to understanding the specifics of each loss of my brothers. Some are clearly emotional indicators and others are as a result of actions taken that did not conclude in a manner they felt was acceptable. Both my brothers were hugely successful and were loved and respected by friends and coworkers. However, in both circumstances each were involved in relationships that were nothing less than toxic and undoubtedly influenced their behavior. They were both literally emotionally kicked and beaten when they were down. I have all the text messages to support the toxic and explosive nature of the relationships. My goal is to understand the specifics, learn from them and offer support to those who are the collateral damage of the act. When we and society fail to understand or comprehend we have a tendency to bury the memory and try to move forward anyway. It may turn out to be the appropriate course of action for some but from where I stand truth and transparency is critical to truly grasping the nature of any problem. My sadness and anger is in check for now. I am in the process of hearing from those who were very close to my brothers and hearing the details of what they witnessed in weeks prior to their death and how they feel about it. From what I heard thus far, most feel guilt, sadness and anger….. Normal emotions considering the circumstances. It will take time and patience before I come to conclusions. However, I am certain there will many who prefer I just tuck it in and move forward. In time.

    • Dear Josh, As an attempt-survivor, I also wanted–needed–to know and understand the emotional elements and influences that led to my own crisis–and thereby understand that of others. I am not sure what you mean by absolutes, but my own understanding came after an in-depth self-searching I can only share.

      • Absolutes= Actions taken by my brothers and others who came in contact with them. It is impossible to give with any certainty a cause and effect to any of this. Nature vs Nurture…who knows. It is different for each person.

  4. Cara, Excellent effort so far… stick around, would you? I’d like to invite you to a community risk reduction conference in Colorado in April. We need more people like you and JD Schramm reminding us that’s it’s ok to talk about risk because talking is the first step to doing.

    • Hi Einar,

      I lived in Colorado for 30 years before moving to Montana. I am happy to hear that you are working on these issues. It’s especially timely since my older daughter, who still lives there with her family, just told me today that two Douglas County students have committed suicide in the past week.
      I have been running a support group here for suicide attempt survivors/people with serious depression (I wrote my story for Cara last July “A lot of very hard work…”). There is a HUGE need for more talking, and it can’t happen soon enough. I am actually “coming out” nationally in an upcoming fund-raising publication for the Menninger Clinic in Houston, where I learned — quite late in life — how to manage my depression. If I hadn’t gone there, I wouldn’t be here!

      Thank you for all you are doing!!

      Debi Strong

  5. Dear everyone on this blog,
    Do you know about Amanda Todd’s plea for help on youtube? for anyone that doesn’t know about it
    Amanda suicided. She tried twice and it happened the 2nd time.
    The link for her plea to help is on this

    Go to that link.
    Never let it happen to you

  6. Cara, I think we are already connected on Twitter, so please forgive any redundancy, but I am compelled to offer you my deep respect for the noble effort you’ve undertaken here with this project. I will most definitely continue to advocate for our common cause in the northern Illinois area, and will certainly stay in touch on Twitter as well. PEACE! #AllRespectNoRestraint

  7. I am 82 years old, and have tried to kill myself twice when I was a young mother, I think one attempt can be attributed to post natal depression, and the other, when I split up with my husband because my life was such a mess. I think my issues started by feeling inadequate to being a mother to my 3 kids. In the late 50s, they treated depression with pills or shock treatments, but did not get to the real issues, like being overworked, not enough support, being cut off from the outside world and missing my folks. I am glad that I did not succeed in dying because the experience of feeling desperate taught me to turn to others for help….and the lessons I learned about my desperation has made it possible for me to help others. Olga

  8. Well done Olga. When I was suffering from depression in my 40’s – inwardly I knew I needed support; to be able to talk again and again to someone who would listen, be strong and not offer criticism – but I had no friends and no-one to talk to. I came through it after 18 very long months and just KNOW that I won’t EVER, EVER need to go there again. Every day I wake up breathing it is a RESULT:-)
    Best wishes

  9. Hi I am in the middle of a recurring depression I have been diagnosed as being bi-polar . over the years I have had many highs and lows ,, to many to count , I have often had strong thoughts about commiting suicide . I know that as a very young child I made a halfhearted attempt to cut my wrists , I stopped half way but left myself with scars that even to this day I still have 40 years later. Getting to know yourself is very important , getting to like yourself , getting to forgive yourself , depression is terrible something you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy . There is however help out there . you are not alone reach out . I am happy to have found this web site and hope to help anyone out there that needs an ear or friend , remember reach out you are not alone. Eugene 52

  10. Thank you for writing this. I have been googling for links to survivors of suicide attempt stories to pass on to my sister. My twin sister I should say, who tried to kill herself 16 days ago. I can’t imagine how it would have been if she succeeded and I so desperately do not want her to try again. But, you are right. There are literally no rescources to support those who tried. I can only imagine the emotional turmoil this experience must create. I hope in time this website will give hope to my sister and help her realise that she isn’t alone, and that she should not feel ashamed to speak out about what she has been through.

    • Good morning,
      I have unfortunately lost younger twin brothers. If I could suggest, seize the opportunity and assist your sister in finding the root causes of her attempt. While the two of you are likely similar in many ways, you have different qualities that you can strengthen one another with. My brothers were special guys. They were very loved and respected. However for them the combination of lofty expectations, toxic romantic relationships and the belief that counseling for mental health was perceived as a weakness had tragic results. You and your sister have the chance with patience and perseverance to build upon what you learn about each other. Knowing the qualities that serve you well and others that need attention will set you up for a beautiful long healthy life. I wish the two of you and your family the best. Things will be ok…..Josh Beloff

      • Dear Josh,

        thank you for writing this. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss and I feel touched that you share it with me here.
        I will try and help my sister, it is my dearest wish that she can come through this. We are similar but not the same and I think it is and has been hard for us both to realise and live with this. I’m going to visit my sister tomorrow its the first time since her attempt (I live abroad and she has not wanted a visit till now). I think it is going to be very painful for us both but that I must be strong for her, and that we can begin to talk about what happened.
        Thank you for your kind words and encouragement and I send my good wishes back to you and yours. Its so very helpful for me to know that others have been here too.

  11. Where do you and your sister live? Can she at least find a good therapist? You are wonderful to be working hard to help her find resources, but you can’t do it all. (My sister was the one who found the help I needed, in the way of a fantastic psych hospital.).

    • We live right now in different countries so its really not easy to find out the information for her. I will visit her tomorrow for a couple of days and I think family and friends wil all help to try and get her as much support as possible.
      I’m glad that your sister managed to find the right help for you, thats great. My sister is in London, where are you based? Any info for UK rescources would be very welcome.

  12. It seems odd, to the point of being counter intuitive, that the major orgs who loudly proclaim that suicide prevention is their mission define “survivors” almost exclusively as family & friends of those who have died by suicide. Clearly these people have suffered an avoidable loss in their lives and deserve empathy at the very least.

    With that said, does the word “survivor” really describe their sad situation?

    There is a great need for support groups focused on the real suicide survivors. This term refers most accurately to individuals who have at least one incomplete suicide attempt in their history.

    Why do these true “experts” on the subject of existential crisis receive so little respect for the potential wisdom that they acquired “the hard way” as they struggled with the very literal choice of life or death?

    It seems reasonable to expect that the most valuable insights toward suicide prevention would be shared by those with direct personal experience, as opposed to the conjecture of emotionally detached “experts”, not to mention input from well-intentioned family & friends whose opinions are understandably clouded by feelings of grief and/or guilt.

    There are several peer-to-peer “support groups” sanctioned by a national org which are targeted at people who struggle with “mental illness” writ large, but in my experience when the subject of suicide comes up at these meetings, group facilitators with training that is best described as superficial often seem to come unglued.

    On more than one occasion I have witnessed situations which were needlessly escalated by an over-reactive facilitator with their inappropriate summoning of police & paramedics to the scene, simply because a depressed person made the mistake of speaking candidly about their feelings in what was supposed to be a “safe and non-judgmental” support group environment. Nothing good has ever come from these unnecessary and ill-advised interventions.

    This fine blog serves a commendable purpose by providing a forum for the REAL “survivors”.

    I would argue that there is still a huge gap waiting to be filled in the area of face-to-face support groups dedicated to providing the same thing in real-time for survivors of suicide to empower each other with the most effective antidote to stigma — EMPATHY.

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