Caught In The Act: See What Saved This Depressed Celebrity From Suicide
Scott Ross recently sat down to catch up with John Tesh.
His obituary would have read, “Celebrity John Tesh commits suicide by drowning off the Jersey Shore.”
“When pain takes your faith away - it really can - the only thing that’s left is the people who believe in you who can help keep you connected to God.”
He’s always had the Midas touch. John Tesh’s career in broadcasting and entertainment has garnered him a host of accolades: three gold records, 2 Grammy nominations, 6 Emmy’s, and an Associated Press award for investigative journalism – just to name a few.
Everybody remembers John as the popular co-host of Entertainment Tonight. He stunned a lot of viewers by leaping out of broadcasting into his first passion - music.
“I’m the poster boy for ‘Quit your job and follow your dream.’”
Now he’s performing live on stage and speaking over the airwaves from his own radio show, Intelligence for Your Life. When I sat down to catch up with John we talked about a wide range of topics from social networking to humanitarian relief.
So I was shocked when -- for the first time publicly -- John brought up how a back injury took him on a dark journey of excruciating pain and hopelessness.
“I had a-a piece of disc material in my spine came off and landed on my nerve root and paralyzed me. And so I started a new journey.”
As the pain got progressively worse, John did his radio show on his back. He tried keeping his suffering in perspective.
“It’s nothing compared to – to what other people have to go through. But the pain is real. You know, and people – ‘well, take a pain pill.’ Uh-uh man, it’s like taking an aspirin when you broke your leg. That stuff doesn’t work.”
“I was in one of these pain centers where they give the epidurals and this lady’s who’s been – I later found out – had been in pain for 20 years. She looks over at me and says, ‘Oh, you’re such a youngster at this. You’re going to get your spine fixed, you’ll be out of here, and I’m –still going to be in here in pain. Consider yourself lucky. Consider yourself blessed. And you know what? I’m going to pray for you right now.’”
“And I’m thinking, ‘This woman, who knows that for the rest of her life, through failed back surgery, she’s going to be living that live in excruciating pain, and she still had the energy to pray for me.’ And I felt pretty horrible at that moment.”
John says pain became the focus of his life.
“I was in so much pain. I couldn’t take pain pills. They didn’t work.”
“Connie’s just – she’s just such a trooper, but I don’t think she knew how bad it was until she came in and she caught me. I’d had an anxiety attack. I’d never had one before. I didn’t know what it was. And so she caught me on the floor at about 2:00 in the morning. I couldn’t breathe, and I was gasping for air. She knew what to do. She grabbed a paper bag and she had me breathe into the paper bag. I was hyperventilating.”
John says he knew other patients in the pain center were far worse. He had support from his wife, Connie, and FaceBook fans offered prayers. Still, the pain screamed louder.
“I had been in horrible, excruciating pain for four straight months, and I lost the use of my left leg. I was in a wheelchair. I couldn’t play music anymore.”
John convinced himself the only way to stop the pain was to take his own life. He planned to get drunk and let the ocean take him under.
What it was, was the doctor said, ‘You can’t go in the water because you won’t be able to make it out.’ I’m like crawling to the water because of my leg.”
“I had downed about a half a bottle of vodka. I’m in a wet suit heading to the ocean on the Jersey Shore - going to go for a swim.”
“What I was trying to do was kill myself because I just couldn’t take the pain anymore.”
John’s suicide attempt ended in the arms of his son Gib.
“He grabbed me and said, ‘You want to go for a swim?’ and I said, ‘Yeah.’”
“He took me and he held me in the water as the waves washed over me and the tears came down. I realized that I had a lot to live for.”
A successful back surgery eventually restored John’s health.
“When you get taken down like that, it puts everything in perspective.”
Scott Ross: “And you’re healed now?”
John: “I am. I am, thank God.”
Scott: “So the prayer worked.”
John: “Prayer works. And everybody was praying for me.”
Scott: “What did you learn in that kind of suffering?”
John: “I learned the power of intercessory prayer, and I learned that you can never do it alone.”
Scott: “And your faith is intact now?”
John: “More than ever.”
John: “More than ever.”
“I’ve tried everything. The only thing that works for me is Jesus Christ. I mean, I guarantee you, at 58 years old, I’ve tried everything. And – you know, new age, this, that, whatever. The only thing that works is a connection to God.”