The news last week was fraught with suffering and tragic endings. Two extremely successful, high profile people with star power, among those who seemed to “have it all,” committed suicide. Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain ended their own lives. Because the masks that they wore hid their pain so expertly, the world was stunned at the news. CNN reported that Kate Spade lost her battle with Bipolar Disorder and Anthony Bourdain had been having only one visibly dark day prior to his suicide; exhibiting a flat affect. They were both suffering in silence for how long we can only guess, but enough that the darkness finally overtook them and made them take their own lives. They can’t ever get the chance to change their minds about the final choice they made. Their second chance ended with their final decision. We have to wonder what could have convinced them to fight for life instead.
This article takes you through the journey of an accomplished, brilliant woman who herself at one time was almost successful at ending her life. It examines the events that led her to that point, the intervention that occurred, and how she triumphed as a champion that has in turn helped countless others avoid suicide. Not to mention helping many avoid a possible tragic end to cyberstalking, or any kind of stalking.
Her name is Alexis Moore, and she was working as a loan debt collector when her life drastically changed. She had been in a very dangerous relationship that most are not lucky enough to survive. Alexis was compelled to go to Law School after having survived being cyber stalked by an intimate partner. 76% percent of women stalked by former intimate partners are murdered (Statistics from the National Center for Victims of Crime 2015). At the time, she decided to take out two loans in her name, and go to an unaccredited online Law school. Before enrolling in online law school, Moore took out a $12,000 personal loan that she used to get a scholarship fund set up to help victims of domestic abuse, clearly a selfless act. Then, she took out $40,000 in student debt for her own Law Schooling. Alexis had survived the harrowing, terrifying experience and decided to become a Lawyer to help others in the same situation. She had the gumption needed to carry on after being cyber stalked, as well as the resilience that it took to get her life back.
Unfortunately, even when someone is at their lowest point, other people can be very critical, judgmental, and cruel. That’s exactly what occurred in this instance: When hearing about Alexis’s plan to attend law school, a publication called Above The Law wrote a negative article about Alexis. They disected the way in which Alexis applied for law school, and even mocked where she attended Law school. Elie Mystal wrote “She’s 39 years old, and she’s always wanted to be a lawyer. But because of her job as debt collector, she knows the perils of heavy student debt” (Above The Law, 2014).
The author went on to say that going to unaccredited online institution was akin to sabotaging your potential law carrer before it even begins. “Even assuming Moore passes the bar in California — the only state she’ll be allowed to take the bar in, provided she passes the “Baby Bar” — what next?” (Above the Law, 2014).
Words once spoken can’t be taken back, and that’s why they are so hurtful. Some words get seared on our brains and we can never shake them because they are so powerful. They resonate in our heads when we are alone and it’s quiet, and nag at our sub-conscious mind throughout the day amid the white noise. This is especially true when we are already vulnerable and struggling to maintain baseline functioning.
That’s exactly what happened to Alexis. After having survived the cyber stalking, reading that article, and coping with bullying in law school, she became overwhelmed. She started to believe that she couldn’t succeed and found herself feeling as if the odds were all stacked against her. She became so hopeless, it led to total despair and she saw no way out but suicide. Alexis shared with me that “Lucky for me I had one person, a complete stranger at the time notice my absence and care enough to call my phone repeatedly, find out where I was and stop me from doing what would have made my life so incomplete without this amazing ending! Being underestimated is tough and challenging and awful at times, but the joy on the other side …wow!” Alexis stabilized with the help of a support system and found the bravery and fortitude to carry on with her dream. She did successfully complete Law School, and then came the time to prepare for the bar exam.
Alexis faced even more hurdles prior to taking the Law Bar Exam. She got badly injured at the gym on May 30, 2016. At the time it was about a month and a few weeks from the bar exam. It was also the most critical point when Alexis needed her strength and vibrancy to study and retain the mounds of information for the exam. The effect of her injuries during the exam made it even harder to take it, but she fought through them and managed to complete the exam.
Not only did Alexis finish the exam, she passed it beating the odds. Only 9% of online law school students pass the exam on the first attempt. “July 2016 at this time according to the California State Bar Statistics showed that 9% of online law school graduates would go on to pass the CA Bar Exam their first try, in contrast ABA Law Students 43% and the first time pass even lower at a 20% rate” (State Bar of CA, 2018).
Getting to this point was by no means easy for Alexis, in fact, quite the opposite. After the cyber stalking that she miraculously survived, Alexis became suicidal, garnerned a plan, and went through with it. She spoke to Elizabeth Cohen on CNN about her suicide attempt in November 2010 right around the holidays.
“For five days, Alexis Moore carefully planned how she would take her own life. She’s not a violent person, so she knew handguns were out. She settled on vodka instead, to be followed by a bottle of Xanax”(CNN, 2010). Alexis carried out her suicide plan exactly as she had planned; she drank the Vodka and ingested the Xanax pills over a two hour span.
Just when she felt the effects kick in and knew she was near the end, she heard a familiar voice and a knock at the door. She ignored the knock having already resigned herself to her suicide plan. Not to be discouraged, the man came to her bedroom window and refused to be ignored. He repeatedly banged on her bedroom window with such an urgency that Alexis let him in. “They sat down in her living room. She talked. He listened. By the end of the evening, she decided not to take her life (CNN, 2010).
According to Alexis, she would be dead if not for “Ed’s” intervention. She told Elizabeth Cohen that it wasn’t so much what “Ed” said, but that he went the extra mile in navigating his way through overgrown and unkempt shrubs and bushes near her bedroom window; It meant the world to her that “Ed” took the extra time and was undeterred by the mass of shrubbery, nettles, and weeds. Alexis shared with me that after that interview with CNN, she heard from hundreds of people on the brink of suicide from all different walks of life, and saved many lives just by sharing her experience. Alexis was also very motivated and remains so to help others not follow through with a suicide plan because her former lawschool student classmate also committed suicide. That incident still leaves a major impact on Alexis, one she won’t soon forget. Alexis shared a very powerful statement with me: “ I want others out there to know THIS IS NOT THE WAY, you are not alone and I understand; one is not mentally ill to believe that they will not overcome or that they are not able to keep going anymore”(Alexis Moore 2018).
Suicide is never the only option. We can do “Moore” as evidenced by Alexis and all she has overcome and her huge success. Use Alexis as an example and stay strong and grounded and reach out if you need help as you are never alone:
There is the option of using the Text HOME number below, or the National Hotline.
“The suicide rate in the United States has seen sharp increases in recent years. Studies have shown that the risk of suicide declines sharply when people call the National Suicide Hotline” (CNN, 2018).
Alexis herself is also always available at www.alexismoore.com and would be thrilled to help any and all people overcome insurmountable adversities and avoid suicide. Alexis said “Never feel as though you are alone and there is no way out, that’s simply not the case! Please realize and live to discover the fact that it is never too late to acknowledge your dreams and make them come true.”
For those folks who are preparing to take the Bar Exam in July too, Alexis says be especially mindful, and contact her or the National Suicide Hotline immediately if overcome with emotion. Especially since according to Alexis, law school is toxic due to the competitiveness and bullying. Women receive the brunt of that bullying, and Alexis remembers how profoundly it impacts folks.
Some signs and symptoms of depression to look out for in yourself and others are listed here from what Clinicians like myself refer to as the DSM, or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition: DSM-5. The list below pertains to Major Depressive Disorder Criteria and five or more must be present for the same two week period or longer. In addition, there is also a loss of interest in what once pleasurable, and it includes a major shift in a person’s level of functioning.
- Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day, as indicated by either subjective report (e.g., feels sad, empty, hopeless) or observation made by others (e.g., appears tearful). (Note: In children and adolescents, can be irritable mood.)
- Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day (as indicated by either subjective account or observation.)
- Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain (e.g., a change of more than 5% of body weight in a month), or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day. (Note: In children, consider failure to make expected weight gain.)
- Insomnia or hypersomnia nearly every day.
- Psychomotor agitation or retardation nearly every day (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).
- Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.
- Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt (which may be delusional) nearly every day (not merely self-reproach or guilt about being sick).
- Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day (either by subjective account or as observed by others).
- Recurrent thoughts of death (not just fear of dying), recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.
The important thing to remember is that we all go through bouts of saddness, depression, or feeling overwhelmed, but there is always support available. Please stay connected with those you love and watch for subtle signs and symptoms that change even slightly. Then, whatever it takes, reach out to them the way “Ed” did to Alexis. Encourage them to share their feelings with you and keep talking with them until they are visibly better. Help them find the strength within themselves to fight for their lives. Alexis Moore is a perfect close up look at what can happen if you conquer the darkness and live to see another day full of light, possibilities, and all the other wonderful things the future holds.