One Mans Story of Surviving & Thriving beyond Suicide
Digital Reporter – Jeff Bohen
Editors Note: The following is the first of a three-part series of articles dealing with Suicide. If you are in crisis, please scroll down to the bottom of the page to access the appropriate resources.
The first thing I can tell you about Nicholas Emeigh, 36, of Croydon is that he’s a human dynamo of sorts.
His rat-tat-tat, matter of fact voice in phone interviews, and in person, is what stood out to me, initially. That observation, however, took second place, when on a early Saturday morning, I texted him, and he replied, “on the helpline with someone, I’ll get back to you when I’m finished.’
You see, the helpline, Emeigh, mentioned, is the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill Helpline, which provides supports to those with mental illness and answers questions many might have pertaining to mental illness, is now part of his job. It is his lifeline and everything he does today, sharing his story, leveraging social media, promoting NAMI events, is about doing this kind of hard work.
On that Saturday, he was giving back, or better yet, attempting to lend the emotional courage and fortitude he has within himself, to another soul seeking a path to recovery.
When we finally connected later that day, I kidded him about ‘always working,’ to which he responded, “better this, than being down in the hole I was in not so long ago.”
Emeigh, Development Director at NAMI Bucks since 2017, is a survivor of suicide. His story, like many others, involves experiencing depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Emeigh’s message today though is very clear. Its about relating and saving lives any way he possibly can.
“When you get out of a hole and you realize people are still in that same hole, what drives me is knowing the things I do every day for NAMI create real change for people who are in that…hole,” he said over a bowl of matzoh ball soup on a crisp Spring Tuesday afternoon at the Golden Eagle Diner, in Bristol Borough.
“Real tangible results that help people” is his mantra, and among his many daily responsibilities its the guiding principle of his motivation.
Emeigh abhors the often sensationalized details involving suicide and mental illness often dramatized in movies and media, yet, he realizes that on a one-to-one basis, it is often the connective tissue for someone seeking help.
I’ll use what’s in my power to connect and help, Emeigh said.
The connective tissue, in his own life, starts with his sister, Jess’ Emeigh’s intervention in his plan to carry out a suicide.
Emeigh’s father, Theodore, died in his sleep, on December 16th 2016. Having lost his mother the prior year, the pain , he said, “swallowed” him up, “but Jess knew,” he said.
“She knew what I was planning. What I was going to do, because she had seen the pattern before,” he said in a moment of reflection about a former version of himself.
Jess removed all sharp objects, medications, etc from his apartment then supported him by taking him over to crisis at Lower Bucks Hospital where he was admitted for inpatient treatment.
“She really had that sixth-sense about what I was planning to do,” he said.
To fast forward a bit, Emeigh, shared he then started going to Lenape Valley Foundation for treatment where one day, while in the waiting area, a friend, from NAMI suggested he share his story with others via the Ending the Silence initiative. NAMI engages the public educating about the warning signs of mental illness and what one could do to help a friend, loved one of family member.
“My initial reaction, was no. Absolutely not!, I wanted to get back to normal, but I thought to myself, trying to be normal is was almost killed me so I decided I’ll do that.
Emeigh met with Laurie Pepe, (NAMI -Ending the Silence state trainer) and said “it was the first time I wasn’t ashamed of myself. She didn’t bat an eyelash, when I told her my story, he said, smiling as he raised his with a matzo ball on it.
And from there, Emeigh’s involvement with the Non-profit located in Warrington, Pa. grew, and expanded employing many of his “creative” skills on the NAMI Facebook page and newsletter. “The social media part of the position allows me to express my creative side. Its one of the many reasons I love the job and the people part of it.
NAMI Bucks Executive Director , Debbie Moritz, said “Emeigh, is an amazing man that has been through a lot in his life and makes it his mission to help others that maybe dealing with difficult times of their own. He shows others that there is a tomorrow and that it is ok, not to be ok, but it isn’t ok to stay that way. NAM is lucky to have him on our staff.”
As we neared the end of out meeting, Emeigh’s cell phone rings, we pause, he takes the call, tells the caller, “I’ll be there in five minutes.” He smiles, moving toward his car, and says “Its Peer-to -Peer time we have a full class so I gotta run.”
And to think, one life decision, an illness, could have robbed us all of Emeigh.
Hold on. Because you matter, is the message.
Tomorrow Part 2. Bucks County Takes on Suicide.
NAMI Bucks is holding its Stride for Mental Health Awareness Walk
You can sign up and “stride” at the link above.
If you are experiencing thoughts of harming yourself, please contact any of the organizations below for support, help and resources.
Prevent Suicide PA 1-800-273-TALK
National Suicide Prevention Life Line on
NAMI Helpline 1-800-950-6264
Lenape Valley Foundation Crisis 1-800-499-7475
Lenape Valley Foundation Mobile Crisis – 215-785-9765