Every 30 seconds, somebody in the world commits suicide. Six in ten teenagers think about it. One in ten attempt to takes their own lives. 17-year-old Kristen Anderson fell right into that second statistic. She was the one in ten. But unlike many people who attempt suicide and die, Kristen survived…
By: Zsa Zsa Palagyi
“Right before it got there, I made the impulsive decision to lay down on the tracks. I wanted the pain to end. I just wanted it to be over,” remembers Kristen. “The police report says that 33 freight train cars went over me at 55 miles per hour. Also that the conductor said to the engineer, ‘Did you see that yellow flash?’ ”
The yellow flash was 17-year-old Kristen Anderson. She was grounded and had sneaked out to spend time with a friend that cold winter night. Rather than returning home to angry parents, Kristen impusively decided to end her life. But somehow, someway, her attempt didn’t work.
“When it was going over me, I felt pain, but more than anything I felt a tremendous weight or wind pushing me down. When it stopped, I opened my eyes and I started to look around to figure out if I was dead or alive. I didn’t know what it was like to die. I’d only seen it in movies. I just didn’t know what to think.”
“I looked behind on my right and about ten feet behind me on my right, I saw my legs. And I knew they were my legs because I had these new bright, white tennis shoes on them that I had just gotten for Christmas, and it just seemed unreal to me. It seemed like it was a horrible nightmare.”
Even before her suicide attempt, Kristen thought her life was a nightmare. Everything looked fine on the outside. In fact, people were shocked she’d tried to take her life. She’d grown-up with a good mom and dad. She was smart, popular, and successful. Up until her first year in high school, she was the friend others came to for help. Then, her world started falling apart. She lost four of her friends—one had a brain tumor, two died in a car accident, and one hanged himself in a cemetary. Later, her grandmother died.
“I just started to think life was horrible—this world was horrible, and I was going to be miserable the rest of my life. I started to become a lot more introverted, I think at this point. When people would ask me how I was doing, like if I came into work or something at school, I would be like, ‘I’m here. Isn’t that good enough?’ I started to just lose hope.”
After that night on the train track, Kristen felt worse than ever. She was in the hospital for three months. Doctors tried to re-attach her legs, but they were unsuccessful. After a number of surgeries, Kristen was told she’d probably be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
“I just started to cry out to God and for the first time, I asked Him why He would keep me here, why He would want me, even without my legs,” she says.
Part of her was mad she hadn’t died on the train track. But in the back of her mind, she was a little glad she didn’t. She had questions about what happens when you die.
“A woman came up to me, who I didn’t know, who had heard about what happened to me and told me that I would have went to hell if I died,” she recalls.
This sent Kristen searching for for the truth. She’d grown up in the church, but God always seemed far-off. The concept of a “personal relationship with Jesus” and a loving God was totally foreign to her.
Then a friend of Kristen’s showed her God’s Word. And that explained everything.”
“John 14:6 was the verse that stood out to me the most. And when Jesus says, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. There’s no way to the father, but through Me.’ And so I knew that the Father was in Heaven. Heaven was where I wanted to know I would have went. But I came to the understanding that I would have been sent to hell if I died. So I realized at that moment that God had given me a second chance to go to Heaven and spend eternity with Him. So, that night is when I became a Christian—I decided to give my life to the Lord. And I prayed. I just realized that my life wasn’t mine to take that night, and I asked Him to forgive me for that and everything else I’d done wrong in life.”
Even with a second chance on life, the next three years were tough. There were more surgeries—more medicine, more depression, and still more thoughts of suicide.
“I didn’t realize how important it was to have Christian friends or be a part of a Bible-believing, Gospel-preaching church. And another thing I didn’t understand was how important it was for me to be in God’s Word every single day.”
It all started to make sense when Kristen met a Christian woman in the parking lot at her local college.
“She just shined with the love and light of Christ like no one I’d met before that point, and I just had the greatest converstation with her. And when i went home, I was like, ‘God, I want to know You the way that lady knew You.’ And He basically just told me, ‘Kristen, you have to let me be your best friend.’ I was still going to all my friends and my family with my problems before I would go to Him.”
“Overnight I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to let You [God] be my best friend here.’ And I just really really learned what it meant to follow Him as my Lord and keep Him number one in my life,” Kristen says.
Kristen started attending church on a regular basis – and helping with both the high school and young adult groups. She enrolled in Moody Bible School and then started Reaching You Ministries. That’s where she works today. Her goal is to keep people from the deep despair that can sometimes lead to suicide.
Now, despite her disabiliy, she never contemplates taking her life…
“I realized that I needed to choose life. I learned how to not be so extreme when something goes wrong. I know it’s not the end of the world. I ended up getting off of all my antidepressants and all my pain meds that they told me I was going to have to take the rest of my life. My life has never been better. I just really try and find my value in God every single day, and I really try to seek Him with everything in me and live for Him completely.”
Kristen Anderson says that a train took her legs, but God gave her a new life. For anyone who feels like giving up like she once did…
“I just wanted them to know how real God is, and if they live like He is real, He will transform their lives. And there’s so much more than they see. They just need to open their eyes, and they need to open their hearts. His plans and purposes for them are much greater than anything they could ever dream of. And I know this to be true. Not only because the Bible says it, but because I’ve seen it to be true in my own life.”