What Really Happened

On December 9, 2010, I was admitted into Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, Canada. Given my medical history, when the news got out about my admission, people made assumptions that I had had another stroke. I’ve since learned that some of my friends were under the understanding I had been a car accident; others that I had a heart attack. How these rumors started I don’t care. Any assumptions people made further separated those in my life from the truth, and people not knowing the truth made life easier for both me and my family while in hospital, and since.

Everything shared about me and my medical condition while in hospital was true. I was in a coma; I was on heart and lung bypass; I also had multiple blood transfusions and four cardiac arrests. What people don’t know is that hours prior to my entry to Victoria Hospital, I had taken an intentional overdose of prescription medications in an attempt to end my life. I tried to kill myself. When I described the suicide attempt – and the events leading up to it – to the psychiatrist in the hospital, I didn’t have a good reason. By that I don’t mean to say that there is ever a good reason for suicide, but my understanding is that there is generally an element of logic to it, at least to the victim. In my case, that wasn’t so.

In the weeks and months leading up to the day that would forever change – and almost take away – my life, I wasn’t depressed, stressed, or even sad for that matter. I had, in a very short period of time, endured what one medical professional creatively referred to as “acute hopelessness” through the breakdown of several things I cared about in my life. When these things collapsed, I literally felt that I had nothing in my life to live for. My accomplishments were irrelevant; my family and friends weren’t a factor; I had simply felt nothing. The ensuing emotion wasn’t depression, but rather the feeling that my life had completely lost all direction.

The decision to commit suicide had been made about a week prior to the actual suicide attempt. It wasn’t rational, but it was calculated. I tied up some loose ends and prepared for it internally. But beyond that, I kept up appearances, showing no signs of weakness to friends and family. I kept writing and doing television and radio appearances as usual. I made no attempts to seek help. I knew help was available; I just had no intention of seeking it. Contrary to many others in this situation, this was not a desperate cry for help or a misguided plea for attention. I wanted to die.

On a cold, Canadian winter’s day, I went to a public washroom and consumed a number of pills that I’m still unaware of in a vacant stall and sat there, washing them down with a bottle of Dasani, smiling. I then crossed the street to a Starbucks to spend what I felt would be my remaining hours. Unaware of how long it took for an overdose to actually kick in, I planned to sit down at the café for an hour or so and collapse there, away from the people it would hurt to find me – my family.

At this point, the stories of what happened diverge based on my family’s understanding, and my limited memory. In my memory, I collapsed at the Starbucks, while not actually passing out, leading a friend I had run into to call an ambulance given her knowledge of my medical history. My family’s interpretation was that I fell, unrelated to the overdose. Either way, an ambulance was called, and I was brought to the hospital – although, I have no memory of the ride there, or my apparent three-hour wait in the hallway of the emergency room – where my father had arrived to meet me.

At this point, whether it be from a moment of fear or a sudden wave of regret, I blurted out “I took an overdose” to my father and a nurse in the ER, followed by almost instant tears from both Dad and myself. Just how long I was waiting in the emergency room, conscious, I’m not sure of. Soon after, though, that my health would take a turn for the worst.

The exact goings-on of my body medically have been talked about in a previous piece of mine. To summarize, I was on a breathing tube, which, when removed, caused my lungs to fill with fluid and collapse. Following that, my heart stopped four times within a 90-minute period, with doctors fortunately not wanting to give up on me. Later, I was put in an induced coma for three weeks, my only recollection of that time being the bizarre – although realistic – dreams I had, many incorporating people and conversations taking place around me.

During this time, only the grace and will of God was keeping me alive, and that same force was keeping my family as strong as they were. Living at the hospital, my parents left my side only to eat and to shower, and even reluctantly at those points. My brother and his wife spent as much time as they could at the hospital, also managing what jokingly became known as my family’s PR department. My parents were passing along the “talking points” of my condition to my brother, who passed it along to a colleague of mine, who posted it to Twitter and Facebook, leading to the overwhelming support from friends, acquaintances, and blessed strangers around the world. There was even a support group set up on Facebook where hundreds of people joined, leaving messages that still warm and comfort me to this day.

I don’t expect everyone to share my religious beliefs, but after what my family and I endured, I can think of no other entity to thank but God, working through the wonderful doctors and nurses caring for me. It was the relentless prayer I was receiving the carried me. I was lucky enough to get a second chance.

The physical healing was gradual, and is still going on today. The emotional healing is inevitably a long road, but I can happily say that healing was very much kick started by the love I witnessed upon awakening. To the hundreds of people who wrote cards, called, sent emails, and prayed, I’m deeply sorry. I didn’t deserve the love and compassion you showed, because I was quite literally the author of my own misfortune. To those close to me to whom I never revealed the truth, I’m also sorry.

I may not have deserved your prayers, but rest assured I needed them, and they worked. I may not have deserved your sympathy, but it resonated, and changed me. I may not have deserved the ongoing displays of support that you all showed me (and continue to show me,) but they gave me hope, and they reminded me of how valuable my life is, and gave me strength for making the most of it in my many years to come

With my sharing this, the inevitable question arises of “Why?” I recognize that while going through the emotions leading up to my suicide attempt, had I known or been aware of someone similar to me who had been through a similar event, I want to believe that I would have been motivated to reach out. If my story can touch even one person somehow, I consider any negative fallback from sharing this to be well worth it. By deciding to reveal this in the way that I have, I encourage anyone and everyone who has a question or statement to leave it either in the comments below, or to email me. I want people to learn from my experience.

Life can be a struggle, but it’s a battle that I fight knowing that I have God carrying me through, and you guys cheering me on from the sidelines. Thank you everyone for all that you’ve done; it has, truly, made a difference.

Thank you. All of you.


Andrew Lawton is Landmark Report's founder and publisher and a North American radio and television personality. In addition to hosting The Andrew Lawton Show on AM980 in London, Ontario, he is also a contributor on Canada's Sun News Network. Andrew, the King of Canadian Social Media, tweets as @AndrewLawton.

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81 Responses to “What Really Happened”

  1. JHS says:

    so basically, despite telling people that you aren't just a crazy right winger…you're just crazy? good riddens.

  2. Steph says:

    There's a very special place in hell for people like you JHS.

    Andrew, such a brave and moving testimony.

  3. anon says:

    My concern is that someone feeling suicidal who doesn't feel any need to worship a deity, may decide to go ahead with it, since the god who you believe saved you, means nothing to them. When I attempted suicide last year, I thanked the doctors and nurses who worked tirelessly for many hours to save me. I think they alone deserve the credit.

    I've also since discovered the reasons for dying that I thought made so much sense at the time were transient. So for anyone who's considering such an act, your perception that it's the logical way to go to overcome your problems is misguided. Tell someone you love what your reasons are and why you think they're insurmountable. Or tell a stranger online. But tell someone, see if they agree. Just try to be open-minded about how they reply.

    Get it off your chest, vent, cry, do anything and everything other than the only way to absolute you won't find contentment down the road.

    If you get nothing else from this ramble, get this: Your current problems are temporary.

    Anyway, thanks for your candid post, Andrew. Maybe the initiation of the dialogue might help someone.

    • doctor anon says:

      "My concern is that someone feeling suicidal who doesn't feel any need to worship a deity, may decide to go ahead with it, since the god who you believe saved you, means nothing to them."

      I am glad you have made it through your crisis, anon, however your underling arrogance and anger may land you in trouble again. Andrew reached a point, it seems, where life simply lost any meaning. Through the tireless efforts of healthcare professionals, family and friends, he found that a force of goodness and selflessness saved his life. He calls that goodness God.

      • anon says:

        Dear Dr. Anon:

        Thank you. I know what Andrew calls it. Andrew knows who I am and I consider him a friend. Nothing I said was derogatory toward him in the least, so perhaps a reread may be in order. You're right in that I have anger, though. It surfaces when I see people say they're followers of the teachings of Jesus wish eternal damnation on others, for no other reason than the person is an idiot. Then other "Christians" all give the hater the thumbs up.

        I have never known Andrew to say or do anything of the sort, and I have nothing against true Christians or anyone else who follows a belief system that espouses good will toward mankind. My problem is with some of the people who have posted here, who wish the worst sort of torture on their fellow man and still think they're going to fantasyland when they die.

        If Jesus turned out to really be a supernatural version of his teachings, he would offer that reward not to petty, spiteful people for blind faith in the face of reason, but to people who "love thy neighbor" and "turn the other cheek" and try to live their lives through his good example.

        i almost wish the myth was literal, but in the end, i would plead for their safe passing for they simply didn't understand. i wouldn't wish them, or anyone, eternal torment.

        So yes, those people make me angry, Dr. Anon. May a god forgive me for my evil ways. Now all you good Christians make sure you give this the thumbs down, and get your friends to offer more thumbs up for the people who care only for those who think and look like themselves.

        "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." ~ Ghandi

        • Anon says:

          Mmmmm…yes!

          An atheist tw*t who likes to quote Ghandi (who was a nazi-loving fraud of a man.) Good for you! And good for us, because as long as there are hilariously moronic people like yourself there will always be a reason to laugh in life.

  4. Jille says:

    You deserved all the prayers, all the sympathy, all the love, all the displays of emotion and all the caring you got from your family, friends and caregivers you had then, have now and will ever have. God has blessed you in many ways and you feel His love more than most on this on this Earth. You're a lucky man, fer farksakes. 

  5. American Elephant says:

    You said, "I didn’t deserve the love and compassion you showed, because I was quite literally the author of my own misfortune."

    We are all the authors of our misfortune. That's what makes us sinners and makes us human. But Jesus loves you and me and all of us anyway! Totally & completely. And the Dude is perfect. Who are we to argue with God?

    God loves you, so you are most certainly deserving of my love. And of ALL of the love and compassion you received and more. God loves you, and God is never wrong.

    Sounds like you forgot that, and fell, and sounds like He caught you and reminded you that HE loves you, and so do a whole lot of people!

    Love you Andrew! Please stick around! :^)

    • Thank you for the kind words American Elephant. I actually never took your perspective that we're all the authors of our own misfortunes to heart. I seriously sat down (or I suppose sat up as I had just recovered from a coma) when I was in the hospital near the end and thought about what my faith meant to me. I realized how lucky I am that despite turning my back on God and family, I still knew that Jesus loved me. What a beautiful gift that is.

      • American Elephant says:

        Amen! The more I learn about Him, the cooler he gets. And dont forget that tons of people love you (millions if you include all the people who already love you even though they haven't heard of you yet.) And you're very welcome! :^)

  6. Michelle Ma Belle says:

    I've never met you Andrew or even corresponded with you, but I was following your journey through the hospital through Twitter and praying for you every step of the way. I'm glad you made it, and I'm glad you're feeling strong enough to approach the public with what actually happened. I'm not very religious, but your story has lended credence to the power of faith most certainly.

  7. @LRRebecca says:

    All I can say Andrew is how happy I am that you didn't succeed. It appears that you share that as well. So thank you for your courage.

  8. Trish says:

    We, as Andrew's family, have immense appreciation for the staff of the critical care trauma centre at LHSC but thank God daily as doctors and nurses attest that Andrew's survival is a miracle.

  9. davey says:

    in other news, no one cares.

  10. CatsPolitics says:

    Andrew, this is the bravest thing I’ve ever seen someone do online. You are an amazing person, one of my favorites on Twitter, and I can’t imagine never seeing you again. God has a plan for your life. I can’t wait to see what He works through you. 

  11. Not Tellng says:

    Got lonely being out of the headlines so you decided you'd try and off yourself for some attention? Boohoo, good for you you got it. Being a fat loser pig wasn't enough for you apparently so you had to add emo into the mix.

  12. Gigi says:

    Gd for u

  13. Kelly says:

    Love you, Andrew. You are a true man who has risen from the depths and kissed God's hand. We walk alongside you, our dear sweet friend. 

  14. the anti-bully says:

    If I'm not a christian can I suggest that those that have posted BS here burn in hell? Immediately? yes?
    perfect. JHS, davey, not telling & any other wankers that decide to sit on their high horses (which are probably the only way they get noticed in real life) ~> "GFY". I'm sure you'll know what that means since your lives likely consist of trolling the 'interwebs' to see what kind of fights you can get into sitting behind the mask of anonymity ('cause let's face it… you were bullied your whole life & now it's YOUR turn, right???) way to AIM HIGH!

    • anon says:

      How about those who say – "I'm a Christian and I want you to suffer painfully for all eternity because you made a distasteful comment"? Just like Jesus would do, huh? Those people are every bit as offensive as the idiots who troll for shocked reactions. But at least I understand why some are so opposed to hypocritical right wingers and act out against them, even if I don't agree with their juvenile and heartless methods of protest. I'll never understand how so many who profess to follow the ways of Jesus are the absolute anti-thesis of everything he taught, and they have NO idea that they're like that. It's mind boggling.

      Not one of the professed Christians above have expressed even the most passing concern for non-Christians who may be hurting and considering taking that ultimate fatal step. Not a single one. Jesus the teacher of love and compassion would be completely horrified by the people who think they're acting in his name.

      I just "pray" that no one reading this thread, desperately looking for just one reason not to commit suicide, decides there's no point since the only reason they find here is from a fairy tale that they stopped believing when they were six. I hope that message is ignored by them and they can find a real reason to continue living – such as realizing that as dark as today may seem, it won't always be like that. There IS light ahead. They just have to believe it.

      That's the root of the Christian message, and it's valid, but without all the ancient superstition that has been built up around it.

      This isn't really a rebuttal to "The Anti-Bully" so much as his/her comment was merely a springboard for my own.

  15. MacTher says:

    I am reading this on the 1st anniversary of the death by suicide of my sister in law. She, once a very vibrant Christian, suffered from mental illness. There was a time when I would not have believed that a Christian could be sick that way. Any physical illness, of course, Christians may be afflicted with, but not mental illness. Sadly, I now know better.
    I am so glad you pulled through. God is good!
    One major difference though between a suicide death and a death in the "normal" way, is this: the guilt that is put on the family and friends, and the millions of questions they are left with, is a very hard burden to bear. Suicide, really is more devastating for those left behind, although the pain and anguish of the victim is very real, as well. I am so glad that your family do not have to go through that.
    You are very brave to step out and face this so publicly, esp. as a Christian, for many in the church will not understand what you have been through.

    • So very sorry to hear about your sister-in-law MacTher. To be candid, reaction from my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ was — and is — the reaction I was most nervous about. The question I had to ask myself is "How can I tell a group of people who value God and life above all other things that I — in a moment of weakness — rejected both of those things?"

      Fortunately, most have been as understanding as you. So I praise God for allowing this discussion to happen without judgment.

      Thank you very much, and God bless you.

  16. [...] can make a difference. Andrew is making a difference. You can help him make an even bigger impact. Share his message. Act on it: On December 9, 2010, I was admitted into Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, Canada. Given my [...]

  17. [...] can make a difference. Andrew is making a difference. You can help him make an even bigger impact. Share his message. Act on it: On December 9, 2010, I was admitted into Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, Canada. Given my [...]

  18. canuckmoose says:

    As American Elephant said above, we are all imperfect beings, and you did deserve the prayers and well wishes as much as any other imperfect sufferer. I lost a friend to suicide about a year ago; he left no note or any other indications so we have no idea why he'd reached that point in his life. I am so thankful you are still with us, Andrew. And sharing this with others, whether they're religious or not, will help I'm sure.

    • Thank you very much canuckmoose. I'm very sorry about your friend, but that is a fate I would not wish on anyone, haven't seen firsthand what this can do to families.

  19. RightGirl says:

    Wait… With your medical history, you waited THREE hours in the ER? You're not just lucky to be alive, you're indestructible.

    You know I have more to say about this…

    RG

  20. _heyitswes_ says:

    We’ve never met. I was only introduced to you through twitter in April. I can only speak for myself when I say thank you. I do listen to Strictly Right, although I don’t always agree with you. You and BillyBob do a great job. You have had my respect for your journalistic integrity, you just gained it on an entirely different level. My daughter paraphrased Plato yesterday saying “be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting their own tough battle”. I commend you for making your very private battle public. It shows us that not every desperate act is carried out in a moment of weakness. Sometimes we believe the decision we’ve made is right, or even the only one to be made. Perhaps, if you had discussed this in a forum beforehand, the masses could have changed your mind. Maybe that’s why our forefathers set up our government the way they did. I’m sure they had leftwing/rightwing arguments back then, however, they must have learned to compromise their agenda without compromising their principles. (or asking their opponents to compromise principally) Bottom line I could not by happier that your were unsuccessful in this endeavor!

    • anon says:

      Nicely said, Wes.

      While I'm here, I apologize for ranting about unChristian Christians. It's only serving to deflect attention from Andrew's purpose and I don't wish to do that. I won't comment on the subject again. Sorry, Andrew!

    • It's amazing how 'vices' like Twitter can, indeed, bring people together. Thank you for listening to Strictly Right Wes, as well as for reading my testimony and sharing your thoughts. I think if I discussed the option of living or dying in a forum, I would have had to have been in a much more clear state of mind. Regardless of the 'why', I'm here now, and rather happy of that fact.

  21. Roxie says:

    Such a powerful and movin story……….you deserved the prayers for sure and were glad they worked!

  22. [...] can make a difference. Andrew is making a difference. You can help him make an even bigger impact. Share his message. Act on it: On December 9, 2010, I was admitted into Victoria Hospital in London, Ontario, Canada. Given my [...]

  23. Janet S says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for being as honest as you have been. G-d has a plan for you, that much is certain, or you would be on the other side of the sod. Keep up the fine work and the good fight, because what you do means so much to the rest of us, who don't have the guts you do. Don't let us down and don't let the idiots get to you, ever! We are thinking of you here in the US.

  24. Glen says:

    As someone who suffers from depression I would like to be able to empathize. However , Andrew is such a mean-spirited , judgemental person , it is really difficult.

    • the anti-bully says:

      Glen ~ two things…
      I hope you're seeking help and have a support system. If you don't think you do, you probably do… your depression is just preventing you from seeing them. Know that they are there.

      Secondly, you're judging Andrew. And calling him names?! You don't know him personally so you're no better than you're accusing him of being. No one human deserves to judge another. Try changing your view of others and maybe your view of yourself will improve.

    • Ben's Mom says:

      Glen, are you yourself not being judgmental? And a bit mean-spirited at that? I empathize with you AND with Andrew.

    • anon says:

      Andrew and I differ radically in our views, but I've never found him to be mean-spirited. I haven't even seen him be all that judgmental, and most people have that problem, myself included. It's his lack of those characteristics that help allow us to discuss our differences in a rational manner.

      And don't worry, I'm taking him out for a beer soon to help him change his misguided ways.

  25. Daniel Paolini says:

    The world's a better place with you in it Andrew!!!!!!!!!!!!! God loves you and anyone who matters loves you too

  26. @CorieWhalen says:

    Andrew, wow, so sorry to hear what you went through, but glad to know you made it out stronger! I don't know you well – only through Twitter … but you've been a great asset to the community, and I'm so happy you're doing better now, and that the love of friends and family showed you carrying on was in fact worth it.

    And to the awful, heartless people who would criticize Andrew for posting this, especially because of POLITICS, you lead very empty lives, and I hope you'll find happiness and peace. How anyone could comment negatively in response to this boggles my mind. 

    • Thank you Corie. Fortunately, I was rather well prepared before publishing this for any sort of negative comments from the trolls of the interwebs. The people whose opinions mattered were family, friends, people I've built a rapport with online. And those people — yourself included — have been incredible :)

  27. Pathetic says:

    We make mistakes and we move on…that's life buddy. If you were too weak to handle your own fucking problems, that's your own fucking cross to bear (oops will Jesus kill me for saying that???) So you survived? Again, who cares. You should move on and live your life, not try and set up an online house of circle jerking to cue this hero worship that's taking place. What you did isn't courageous in the least. Get. Over. Your. Self.

  28. Peter says:

    Andrew … Have you gone back to that Starbucks to apologize to the people working there that day for the incredible stress and worry you must have caused them ?

  29. Glen says:

    Andrew .. On a previous posting , I commented that I would like to empathize with you but couldn't because I thought you were mean spirited and judgemental. When I heard those words spoken aloud tonight on the MC Show , it made me feel very ashamed. I realized how mean they were. Please accept my deepest apology. While on a subway platform once , and feeling sad and angry for sometime , I felt the immediate urge to jump. It scared me a great deal – so much so , that I literally grabbed a post to keep me from jumping. Thank You for sharing your story.

    • anon says:

      I was concerned if you seen the show, you'd be hurt by the host's callous remarks about you, and it might serve to bring on a bout of depression. Glad to see that wasn't the case, and that you got something positive out of it. I hope you feel good about yourself for that.

    • I accept your apology Glen.

  30. [...] this week, I posted here on Landmark a testimony about my experience with suicide. After the revelation, many people have opened up about their stories, expressed their continued [...]

  31. Elaine Murray says:

    I believe it could happen to anyone if the right set of circumstances were in place. Thank you for sharing this, it could help someone.

  32. John Downs says:

    Andrew and I both share our feelings and beliefs for a living… Often within the same venue. Andrew and I disagree on… Well pretty much everything. But Andrew is also a follower of Jesus Christ. While I’m an Athiest, I’m also a fan of JC’s message. And on that note, we should all agree that Andrew is worthy of compassion, support and love. I wish, as a “Godless” individual, I had the bravery to share what Andrew has shared with us. Whether he gets his inspiration from God or elsewhere, he’s literally living proof that honesty and humility go a long way to making us all better people.
    Thanks Andrew for proving our vulnerabilities are really the windows to our strengths. 

  33. Tagalder70 says:

    Andrew I have listened to your story and struggled not to level both barrels at you. I watch Coren's program often, not because I like the man but I watch it to see how rude right wingers, who claim to love the Lord can be. Of course I am happy you did not succeed in your attempt but I must admit that I don't much like you. I also have been bullied most of my life but I have always kept moving to that speck of light I could in the distance and I reach out to those around me and try to comfort them. Not sit in judgement mind you just with understanding. One question Andrew what are you really looking for?

  34. [...] Andrew Lawton has written a very brave piece about his suicide attempt. Even he doesn’t quite understand what caused it. Very much recommend you read it, and follow @andrewlawton on Twitter. [...]

  35. [...] Lawton, who took an overdose of prescription medications last December and was hospitalized for seven weeks, is only now talking publicly about his struggles. You can read his own remarkable account, titled What Really Happened, at his Landmark Report website. [...]

  36. [...] off, the show in question where was “puking on and on” about my fortunately failed suicide attempt can be seen [...]

  37. Andrew, I've been in that position many, many times and could never figure out why they didn't work. My parents think I didn't want to die, because I worked in pharmacy 20 years I know what drugs to take how much is enough and I took well more that enough. My doctors always said I should be dead, But now, this past year I've changed. I'm 43 and I can finally speak my mind and work really hard to change the world for the better. I'm working with Reverend Jesse Jackson against voter suppression and now in my state of Michigan they're trying to take away all state assistance and 23,000 children will be homeless on Oct. 1. I've had an idea that might prevent that. If I was dead, that idea would be dead too. Don't die, Andy. Fer Farksakes!!!

  38. [...] Andrew Lawton shares his way to close to successful suicide attempt. Andrew Lawton [...]

  39. [...] Jennifer Dailing Waite wrote about Canadian pundit Andrew Lawton’s observations on his own suicide attempt. The comments area was swiftly dominated by an individual who is of the [...]

  40. [...] story is not foreign to me, as it has glaring similarities to my own story of 16 months ago. Like him, I reached a breaking point where life’s demands and pressures were simply too [...]

  41. Odis Wills says:

    Pretty Cool weblog you have created here! Also your web site is quite a bit quicker! Which web host are you working with? Can you post your affiliate hyperlink to your host? I want my website loaded up as quickly as yours, lol.

  42. Dannielle says:

    Bless you! In sharing your story of hopelessness to hope and purpose you have and will continue encourage and give hope to those facing the same struggles you have been through! I pray God’s richest blessings in your life as you live a long and healthy life! I am glad you’re here because your show kicks ass on AM 980! Best talk show host in London! :)

  43. […] years ago today, I walked into a public restroom, swallowed an exorbitant number of pills, and awaited death, which never came. Well, it did for 90 […]

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