Dealing with the darkest thoughts of suicide

Lenier Allen has been touched by suicide. And tempted by it.

But through therapy, Mr. Allen, 64, of Wilkinsburg has learned to deal with depression and not act upon his suicidal ideation. A million people in the United States attempt suicide each year.

His brother committed suicide in 1972 at age 22. AWOL from the Army, he hanged himself in the Allegheny County Jail.

The suicide devastated Mr. Allen and his family and added to his depression. Mr. Allen already had issues -- openly gay his entire life, he was poor, heavy-set and a self-described "street person" with low self-esteem.

"I never really felt accepted. I often thought I shouldn't be here. I often thought about suicide."

He even knew how he would do it -- taking the hundreds of sleeping pills his roommate had. But then -- and at other times in his life -- he could not bring himself past suicidal ideation because he saw the devastation his brother's suicide caused for loved ones.

He got into therapy, earned a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in social work and entered the human services field.

A number of serious health issues has threatened to overwhelm him but "fortunately, I have a relatively good support system. ... I've learned a lot of problem-solving skills."

"I'm doing great," said Mr. Allen, who remains in counseling. "When God calls me, I'll go, but not until then. Suicide is not the answer."


Michael A. Fuoco: or 412-263-1968. First Published May 5, 2013 4:00 AM


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