Christen McGinnes, a suicide survivor who shot herself in the head seven years ago said she ‘wasn’t afraid to die’.
In the incident she lost her right jawbone, a third of her teeth and tongue, the lower half of her mouth and her right eye during the attempt in 2010.
Christen, of Virgina, said: ‘Right up to until 2009, I lived a charmed life. I had a lot of friends. I loved my job and I was best friends with my grandmother. And then, everything went to hell.
‘I lost my job, my grandmother died. I was dating a really nice guy. I moved in with him and then he broke up with me. I’d lost all of my savings and began drinking heavily.
‘At the time, I thought that killing myself was the right thing to do.
Christen after surgery to reconstruct her face
Suicide survivor Christen McGinnes doing her make up in the mirror in Fairfax, Virginia
‘I tidied the apartment because I knew people will be coming and I went out in the balcony because I was afraid the bullet will go through my head and through the wall and hurt someone else.
‘I was calm for the first time in months. I wasn’t afraid to die. So I pulled the trigger.’
But, unbeknownst to her, her roommate was sleeping in the next room.
Christen, 46, said: ‘I heard my roommate running around the apartment screaming.
‘The noise that came out of his mouth was the shrillest, most panicked shriek I’ve ever heard.’
An X-ray of Christen’s face after she shot herself
She was airlifted to hospital and in a coma for three weeks. The first thing she remembers was her dad ‘holding my hand and saying: “All you have to do is heal, everything is taken care of, you are safe”.
‘I think the biggest change for me was seeing how much support I really had and how many people truly cared about me. It took the anger and depression away.’
Her friend Howard said: ‘When I walked into the room at the hospital she was not recognisable. She was swollen, half of her face was bandaged because it was blown off.
‘But when I saw the forehead and the red hair I knew that it was my Christen.’
Since then, Chisten had 49 surgeries to reconstruct her face and will need more in the future.
Inside Christen’s mouth after surgery to reconstruct her face
She said: ‘I’ll never be the person I was before, but that’s good. I’m more grateful now.
‘It’s a struggle for me getting around but I enjoy the life that I have. During my recovery, I met and fell in love with a wonderful man.
‘I value my friendships more and my time with others. But I don’t regret what I did.’
Now, Christen volunteers at the Trauma Network Centre in Virginia.
She said: ‘Suicide is an awful thing. There is a such a stigma around suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts that people keep it hidden.
‘By talking about suicide and admitting we’ve been there, others can know they are not alone.’