KANSAS CITY, Mo. — According to the Center for Disease Control, there are more than 45,000 people that took their lives in 2020.
Here in Kansas City, Linda Clavijo Fajardo, is speaking out sharing her story as a suicide survivor, during Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, in hopes others struggling will seek help.
“I’m happy that I still have my life,” Clavijo Fajardo said.
She experienced a dark time at one point in her life, stemming from family mental health issues and being bullied as a child.
"I had suicide ideation and I tried suicide before,” she said. “I have bipolar II, it runs in the family, but depression and anxiety do as well.”
For Clavijo Fajardo, going off to the Air Force made her realize she was not okay.
“I went to basic training and tech school and I just thought because I was far away from home, I would be fine,” Fajardo said. “I didn’t think anything of it until I got home and I realized that it just got worse and worse and worse.”
Clavijo Fajardo tells KSHB 41 she was scared to speak up because of stigma in the military.
“I’m in the Air Force, in the guard, and they always say seek help, seek help, but you always know that especially for security forces, I cannot," Fajardo said. "If I was to seek help it would limit me on how much I could do, like I couldn't arm up. Maybe not a whole lot of people who aren't in the military can see this as a stigma, but whenever you’re in training and when everyone around you are shooting and you’re the only one that is sitting there who isn't, everybody is like why aren’t you shooting? What are you going to say?”
Clavijo Fajardo says that stigma led to one of the darkest days of her life.
“I woke up severely angry for no reason,” Fajardo said, “I began smashing things, I just wanted break something, I just wanted to hurt something. It was just another day in my life, but I woke up feeling angry."
Clavijo Fajardo says her emotions and the moments leading up to her suicide attempt were scary.
“In the moments before I even thought of taking my own life, I had a lot of anger," she said.
Clavijo Fajardo tells KSHB 41 News she was confused when she walked into HCA Research Psychiatric Center to seek treatment.
“What is wrong with me?” Clavijo Fajardo recalled feeling. “I felt so vulnerable. I felt like the skin has fallen off my body and it was just my organs.”
For Clavijo Fajardo, while the process of recovery was not easy, having the support of her family and doctors helped her.
“My family, seeing them come visit me everyday, even if it was for only 30 minutes, meant the world to me, it gave me that small push," Clavijo Fajardo said. "It gave me that motivation. I’m glad I stayed. I’m glad I didn’t do what I intended to do. I’m glad I’m still here."
The support that Clavijo Fajardo describes is something Justina Weber, with HCA Midwest Health, says is important to keep loved ones alive.
"Let’s make it just as OK to go get mental health treatment as it is to go to the doctor when you break your arm, you have diabetes or you’ve taken a fall and you hit your head,” Weber said.
Weber adds there are signs many families should look out for in loved ones who might be having thoughts of suicide.
“They could be stressed out, they're drinking more than they usually are, they might seem more impulsive or having more mood swings or something and that can really escalate somebody into a depressive state,” Weber said.
Clavijo Fajardo is now on the path to becoming a dentist and also has found a passion in art. She was glad she was given second chance, and wants others struggling to do the same.
“I’m happy to be alive and I’m happy to be here and I’m happy that I got the help," Clavijo Fajardo said. "I’m not just happy, but I’m also calm. I found peace with myself.”