- Associated Press - Monday, February 13, 2017

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Larry Desjarlais was looking to end his life when he attempted to kill himself nearly 3.5 years ago.

He thought death was the answer, but God had a different idea, Desjarlais says today.

Recovery has been a journey. Desjarlais recently completed a sobriety program and recently ended a streak of homelessness when he moved into Minot public housing.

The Minot Daily News (https://bit.ly/2kYt0dJ ) reports Desjarlais, who writes poetic song lyrics to express his feelings, believes he has a message worth sharing.

“This story has to be told,” Desjarlais said. He added he would love to someday speak to or work with others to encourage them to turn away from suicide and other destructive decisions.

“I want to make every person I meet better - or at least try,” he said.

Desjarlais has struggled to keep on the right path, which he attributes to his alcohol abuse, since his near death experience on Aug. 7, 2013. He recalls riding down the highway on a law enforcement transfer from Rugby to Bismarck. Besides being drunk, he said, he was depressed over being separated from his infant daughter after the baby’s mother moved out.

“So when I found out that door opened - I couldn’t live without my baby - I went head first onto the highway,” he said.

He was placed on life support in a Bismarck hospital and declared brain dead.

“They thought I would be a vegetable and a quadriplegic the rest of my life. But that’s not so,” he said.

He came out of his coma 28 days later.

“He’s a total miracle from God,” said his aunt Bev Desjarlais, St. John, who was among family members who kept vigil at the hospital, expecting the worst. “No human being should have lived through what he went through.”

Between therapy sessions, Larry Desjarlais began reading the Gideon’s Bible in his hospital room.

“I was never closer with God than any time in my life,” he said.

However, eight days after coming out of his coma, he made a decision he now realized was unwise. He checked himself out of the hospital to go look for his daughter.

He spent time in New Town and Rugby, returning to drinking as a means of self-medication from the pain of a broken knee and fibromyalgia stemming from his suicide attempt. He spent two months in North Carolina at the invitation of his aunt there before returning to North Dakota, first to Minot and later to Bismarck.

Desjarlais, 38, had some legal run-ins earlier in life. Among them, he pleaded guilty to burglary and misdemeanor theft in Ward County in 2001, unlawful entry of a motor vehicle in Cass County in 2002 and criminal trespass in Burleigh County in 2005.

Past problems were hard to shake. Living in Bismarck in 2014, he agreed to present a check for cashing at the request of strangers, who paid him for his help. He said his better judgment told him the check was forged, but alcohol and his need for money swayed him to make the wrong decision.

He spent a year in prison for forgery before his transfer to a halfway house. He immediately skipped out of the halfway house and ended up serving six months for escape after his attorney persuaded him to turn himself in.

Upon his release, he moved to Dunseith and eventually Bottineau and Rolla. When a friend asked him to assist him in recovering copper from an abandoned property, Desjarlais said his mind again was too clouded with alcohol to question the activity’s legality. As a result, he was charged last September with criminal trespass and theft of property and spent two months in the Rolla jail. He remains on probation.

“Something told me to go to the hospital. I was thinking about suicide again, but I promised God I can’t do that,” Desjarlais said.

He entered the behavioral health ward in Minot and received alcohol addiction treatment at North Central Human Services. He said he has been sober for three months.

“I have a different view on life,” he said.

Bev Desjarlais said it has been difficult to watch her nephew struggle with alcohol and bad choices so it is encouraging to find him on a better path.

“That’s the big thing - to stay sober,” she said.

Larry Desjarlais continues to deal with the aftermath of his physical injuries but is developing a relationship with his 3-year-old daughter and is optimistic about his future. His passion is his writing. He offers this sample of his verse:

“No matter what I am living,

This is what I’ve got.

Sun rises every day on all,

But don’t ever let the moon’s rising ever let you fall.

Nevertheless, I get back what I’m giving.

If it were anything less, this, my friend, wouldn’t be living.”


Information from: Minot Daily News, https://www.minotdailynews.com

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