Win or Die: A Poem on Suicide

By Damien Knight

We all remember being teenagers, the dreams, the angst, and the joys. For me I remember my teen years with pain that puts normal teen angst to shame. I lived through abuses as a young child, the child of a broken home thrusted into a new “Brady Bunch” family. I was so damaged that I created an alternate who could handle anything. I had said in prior writing’s that I knew I was male even as a young child but I could not, in a conservative Brady Bunch family, be him. My alter, he took over me when I would be afraid, he was the boy who was strong, who could take the hits when my “female” identity could not anymore. I called him Raven and her Starr, Starr was fake, an act, a mask I wore. Raven was me, the real me, caged like a beast, he could only stand this so long. Playing as “Eddie Gang” was not enough freedom anymore for the boy I was and at 13 I dreaded every waking moment.

I know now that my attractions to women were perfectly normal. That my emotional states were caused by confusion at being transgender, hormones and a thyroid disorder. At 13 I was misdiagnosed as bipolar, despite evidence of this thyroid disorder. I was drugged, Depakote, but my moods did not get better. At the end of 6th grade my step-mother found a suicide note, slash “run-away” letter explaining I was leaving, and I was sorry. She confronted me asking how I could think of running away after winning a top reader award. I did not have the heart to tell her it was a suicide letter and that the night before I failed to kill myself. I had taken all my Depakote and Adderall only to wake-up just fine the next morning. It was my first attempt.

This though is simply background so you can understand the poem win or die, which I wrote at 15. By time I was in 8th grade I had already stopped counting my runaway and suicide attempts. While my parents knew I was a flight risk, they had yet seen a “valid” attempt. Perhaps they explained away missing pill bottles, or perhaps because I was in wards and they did not see when I strangled myself with a blanket. They did not care to ask why, and even if they had I could not bear to tell them. I do not recall what made me snap that night, the night my father learned I wanted to die. I was once more staring at the happy picture of me as a little girl with all my sisters all of us in our bridesmaid dresses. Rage swelled in me and I threw it on the ground cursing at God. I removed the razor from a pencil sharpener and began to slash at my wrist.

Now my parents had thought I was cutting before but I had deflected saying I was scratched by Nile, my cat. Cutting was never a way I tried to die, not until that night when instead of scissors I used a razor, that night I had the blade set to go down my arm when my dad heard me screaming at God and ran to my room. Men are not known to cry, my father especially not, but he pulled me into his lap and got the razor from my hands and he cried. We both were crying.
It was the next day I wrote Win or Die. “Look at Me, Look what I done, I have lost I never won.” Those words were similar to my own wails.


“Only God knows who I am and why and that I will win and never die.” As much as everyone praised me as a teen for this line of hope they all misunderstood. It was a lament of my failed suicide attempts. Every time I kept right on living, the only hope in that line was one day I’d “win.’ I’d get to be me. Until then only “God” knew I was not the girl they thought of me. I was carrying a burden. Today I can honestly say Raven is free, and now as Damien, I have not attempted suicide since 2009 the year I came out. Yes, my life was rough but even as I write this I have to remind those who now walking where I was it gets better. Keep fighting. Believe. This year I believe I will finally make my goal of top surgery but even though I am still pre-op I have been living as male since I came out. My name change is finally on all legal documents. My Bachelors will say Damien Skye Knight on it, this, this alone brings joy beyond all the sorrow I suffered.


(If you want to help support my transitioning Journey Click The Shadow’s Journey  Thank you.)


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