Suicide is a tragedy that strikes close to home all too often. It has been shown that 20% of us will experience a suicide within our immediate family, and a full 60% of us will personally know of someone who dies by suicide. Shocking is that among young people aged 10-14 years, the rate of suicide has doubled in the last two decades. Just as tragic, is that the pain felt by those left behind is often borne in secrecy. There is a stigma associated with suicide, and those who are suffering from the loss of a loved one are sometimes viewed as somehow at fault for their death. So when it does happen people choose not to talk about it. It could not have been suicide. It must have been something else.

It has been shown that 20% of us will experience a suicide within our immediate family, and a full 60% of us will personally know of someone who dies by suicide.

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Around 20 years ago life held much promise. I had a successful professional and family life. Unfortunately, mental health issues brought it all abruptly to a halt, sending me down a perilous path. At the end of this path I found myself believing that suicide was the only way I could escape the pain. Luckily for me that despite my actions, this proved to be false. 

It has taken me years to navigate my way back to health. Thankfully, I have had excellent medical care helping me to find my way out of the darkness. This path has brought me back to a dream of mine: to swim the English Channel. More importantly, I've decided to reach out to others who in the darkness of their pain are contemplating taking their own life, and to those surviving families and friends who suffer from suicide's devastating effects.

To prepare for the intimidating task of swimming the English Channel, I attempted a number of other very formidable marathon swims. Two of the better known ones are the Catalina Channel and the Manhattan Island Marathon Swim (MIMS). The three of them combined are referred to as the Triple Crown of Open Water Swimming. I conquered the Catalina Channel (2011) and MIMS (2012), but my attempt to swim the English Channel in 2013 came up short. Unwilling to give up, I am returning to attempt to swim the Channel in 2019.

My hope is that through my swims I can raise awareness that there is no shame in suicide anymore than there is in cancer, heart disease or any other potentially fatal health problem. My goal is also to raise awareness of advances in preventing this serious health problem; one which causes over 30,000 deaths each year in this country alone. 

I am in the process of revising and updating this site, so please return to see the new and expanded site. It will cover more facts and links on suicide, how we can understand it, and what can we do to help others to avoid and survive suicides.  (12/13/16)

Thanks, Bob

BobNeedhamSwim 10-20-1118634

The home stretch of my Catalina Channel swim with my daughter Jennifer in the kayak

Photograph by Paula Selby

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