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Attempting Suicide at the Pinnacle of Success

“There is no way to describe or make sense of wanting or trying to kill yourself. You’re in such a crazy place and the pressure of the demonic is so strong,” says Richard Thomas. Richard was at the pinnacle of rock and roll success when he tried to take his own life-twice. “It’s terror—it’s awful. It’s just—it’s a spirit, it's a spirit of suicide.”

As a young boy growing up in the Philadelphia area, Richard’s family attended church, but he never learned about Jesus. “I grew up in a very dead church and it was all religion and tradition,” he says. “They taught that the Bible stories were just to show you ways of being good, and that it wasn’t even real.”

His parents divorced when he was young. His mother remarried, but she and her husband worked constantly, leaving Richard on his own to cope with his pain. “I started drinking at 10; I started doing drugs at 10; I started smoking at 10,” he says. “I know part of the reason why I medicated and all that stuff had to do with that. It was filling that God-sized hole.  

Also at age 10 Richard got his first guitar and began playing rock and heavy metal. “I just knew in my heart that that’s what I wanted to do and I told everyone. I told my friends and my family, ‘This is what I’m going to do. I’m gonna do what (heavy metal guitarist) Slash does.’”

And he was right. He turned out to be a prodigy and was accepted into the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts.  Despite studying classical guitar, Richard’s love for heavy metal became an obsession, and in some ways, a religion. “I would turn the lights off and light candles and burn incense and blast heavy metal music in,” he says. “Why I was doing it, I don’t even know. It was almost like a séance or something.”

Two weeks into his senior year, Richard landed a gig with the popular metal band, Operator. He quit school, bound for rock ‘n roll stardom.  While his skills as a guitar player gave him success, it was the music industry that perpetuated his addiction to drugs and alcohol.  

“It was like, million dollar out buses right away: everything. I was drinking heavily and taking drugs. They’re creating this persona: drink, have tons of fun, do drugs, have sex with tons of girls--do all the things that people think that they want.”

During this time, Richard’s Uncle Joe, a man he admired and respected, became a Christian. Joe knew his nephew needed god, and he prayed for him constantly.

Joe recalls, “I was partially aware of his addictions and I visited him on tour when I was saved. But he was very detached and highly medicated when I would go visit him."

Richard eventually joined the metal band Rev Theory. But in time, he began growing weary of the rock star lifestyle, and began taking sleeping pills. “Partying and playing in front of 65,000 people became work and I hated it,” he says. “It got to the point where I would just hide in the bunk. I would only come out of my bunk to sound check and then I’d go back in my bunk.”

Richard’s rock ‘n roll dream quickly turned into a nightmare.

“It was getting to the point where I felt like I was dying--and I was, “ Richard says. I was slowly killing myself with all the drugs and alcohol. I hated everyone around me. I hated myself. That made me go deeper and deeper into depression--just pure despair.  All my dreams came true, all my worldly, fleshy dreams, and I still wanted to die.”

One night he decided to overdose on sleeping pills.  “There was something else in the room with me because I made the decision to go and dump all the pills out all over the counter and suddenly I’m fisting hundreds of pills into my mouth,” he recalls. “I felt like I was getting help—and I was. I couldn’t see it. It was very, very creepy.”

Somehow Richard survived. Several months later, he tried again. “A famous singer friend of mine, I sent him a text saying ‘I’m leaving this world. I love you, man.’ It started a chain reaction and eventually 911 got called. And suddenly paramedics show up, cops, just, there was a million people at my house, Richard says. “They take me out on a stretcher to go to the emergency room.”

Richard spent three days in ICU and another 30 in rehab. When he was released, his Uncle Joe called to pray with him. Richard says, “It was basically Jesus, the most high God, coming in and saying, ‘Hey, I’m real. I love you, and everything is going to be fine. The Holy Spirit came down and I couldn’t not say yes. I had to. And just like that, baptism by fire, I was saved.”

“It was amazing. It was such a surprise and I just overflowed with joy,” his Uncle Joe says. “I can’t describe the feeling that’s in my heart.”

Today, Richard has a new book, Standing in the Fire, and a direction in life, using his talents for the lord: writing, playing, and singing music for Jesus. “Once you’re saved it doesn't mean you don't need to be delivered from all kinds of things,” he says. “It’s a process. The Lord broke the cycle of me chronically hating myself, which led to suicide and all those things. And the Lord just loved on me so much, showed me what real love is. I started to love things that I never did before: helping people, serving others. It's amazing. It’s miracle after miracle after miracle. Jesus is the only way for that to happen. You can’t do it with religion. You can’t do it with any of all those false things. You can’t do it with drugs, alcohol, sex--none of it works. Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life, and the only way to our Father in heaven.”

Find more at Richard's website.

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