Successful Face Transplant Gives New Hope to a Suicide Survivor

There are many stories in the news of suicide survivors, some who decided they wanted to live at the last moment and cried out for help and others who were not successful in their attempt. Surviving a suicide attempt requires a long road to recovery as the individual may continue to experience unhealthy thoughts and emotions. Individuals who were not successful with their attempt may require intensive medical care for any injuries that occurred. Inpatient therapy is often the first step for individuals who survived a suicide attempt after they have been cleared medically and often times with help of close family and friends, many make a full recovery.

A young 18-year-old Katie tried to take her life with a gun after her boyfriend broke up with her. The bullet lodged into her face, leaving her extremely disfigured and very much alive. She spent months undergoing intensive medical treatment. Her eyes were badly damaged and she lost most of her facial structure including her forehead, nose, sinuses, mouth and jaw. At 21-years-old, Katie became the youngest individual in the United States to undergo a face transplant in order to receive another shot of living a beautiful life as our face is often tied to our identity. She has begun the healing to stage to gain a new lease on life with a face that she can be identified with.

“As we scrutinize our own faces for wrinkles and flaws, we can fail to notice what a marvelous organ the face is. Our faces are the most distinctive part of our visible body, a mysterious mosaic of the physical and the psychical. Faces are the body’s workaholics: They confer and confirm identity, express emotion, communicate meaning, perform basic functions necessary for life, and enable us to experience the world through our senses. We are born seeking faces. Newborns turn toward them during their first moments out of the womb. Babies observe, respond to, and mimic our expressions as though it’s their job. And in a way, it is. This close study of faces is the way we all begin to understand the curious business of being human. Faces, in evolutionary terms, helped us become social animals.”

Regretting a suicide attempt

Suicide attempts can be physically altering as gunshots and jumping from hundreds of feet in the air can leave the body broken into a million pieces. The Golden Gate Bridge has been a popular location for individuals to commit suicide by jumping into the bay. Many studies have shown that the very few people who actually survive this jump admit that they immediately regretted their decision in mid air.

“Suicidal people have transformation fantasies and are prone to magical thinking, like children and individuals experiencing psychotic symptoms,” Dr. Lanny Berman, the executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, says. “Jumpers are drawn to the Golden Gate because they believe it’s a gateway to another place. They think that life will slow down in those final seconds, and then they’ll hit the water cleanly, like a high diver.”

Surviving suicide

Although it may not seem like it at first, anyone who survives suicide is extremely lucky as they have another chance on life and a chance to receive professional help and to reconnect with their love ones. Individuals who are suicidal are usually at the lowest points in their life and often do not outwardly show it however after a suicide attempt, friends and family now have the chance to intervene and seek help for their loved one. A new face to gain an identity, orthopedic surgeries to fix broken bones and many days in a hospital may be required to mend the body before the mind and heart can be put back together but miracles do happen and surviving suicide can be considered a miracle.