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Newsman reveals suicidal thoughts

By Douglas Hyde, CNN
Tough financial times almost drove correspondent Jim Moret over the side of a cliff.
Tough financial times almost drove correspondent Jim Moret over the side of a cliff.
  • Newsman Jim Moret got hit hard and depressed by the recession
  • After pondering suicide, he wrote about why he chose to stay alive
  • Says he learned to "treat every day as if it's your last"
  • "I hope I am regarded as someone who touched a few lives in my time here"
  • Suicide

Los Angeles, California (CNN) -- "So when I was driving down this hilly, windy road in Malibu, I really went to a dark place and thought, 'You know, I could turn right [over the side of the canyon] and no one would know. It would look like an accident,' " remembers Jim Moret, the chief correspondent for "Inside Edition" and a former CNN anchor.

"My wife would get $3 million of insurance. It would solve all of our problems. Of course the big problem wouldn't be solved because I would be dead."

Ironically, after 2½ years without a full-time job, the veteran newsman had finally found work with "Inside Edition," but an upside-down mortgage and a mountain of debt fueled by subprime loans had brought him to a financial meltdown. It had him literally staring into the abyss of suicide.

"Whether your home is worth $150,000 or $5 million," he writes, "the real prospect of losing everything you have worked your entire life to achieve is devastating and utterly demoralizing."

Like George Bailey in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life," it had occurred to him that financially, he was worth more dead than alive.

But when he thought about his family, he pulled back from the precipice and got to thinking, "What if I had one day left, how would I view life? What's important? What would I value? How do I look at friendship and love and gratitude and laughter and music and forgiveness and adventure? And none of those things had anything to do with money. Money was the root of my desperation."

Moret didn't seek professional help. Writing was his therapy, he says, so with his wife's encouragement, he wrote about the experience and the life-changing insights it gave him. But as he got further into it, it dawned on him: "Wow. I just might have a book here."

The final result is "The Last Day of My Life," which Moret calls an "inspirational memoir."

"In the 20 or so chapters, if you can find one or two or three that you can relate to, then I feel wonderful, because the idea is that you can see yourself through my story. I'm telling you what my choices were and what I choose to feel is important and then I ask you a question at the end of many chapters. Who would you apologize to if this were your last day? Who would you forgive? Those two things there are really powerful and heavy statements and questions and it's difficult to forgive somebody who's wronged you."

Moret deals with the issue of forgiveness in the chapter on his troubled relationship with his biological father, "Gidget" star James Darren, who legally renounced his parental rights when Moret was 13. Moret writes candidly about the feelings of abandonment it caused and his quest to forgive his dad. "If you're not completely honest in a book like this, then the book is devalued considerably. It's worthless. I've put everything out there."

Moret says he and his family are still hanging on and haven't lost their home yet, but moving "is not as big a deal to me anymore."

"If you look at every day as if it's your last, and treat every day as if it's your last, you can kind of reset your clock every day. 'I've got 24 hours left, how do I proceed? What do I approach first?' And what's good about that mindset is the little things don't bother you as much. There's certain things we just can't control. You're not going to read this book and go, 'everything will be great.' This is not 'The Secret.' "

"The Secret" is a self-help book that talks about using positive visualization to attract the things in life you want.

" 'The Secret' really focused on material things," Moret said. "My book really focuses on the nonmaterial things, the things you're ultimately remembered for and that you want to be remembered for, and that make every day really meaningful."

How would Moret like to be remembered? "As a good dad, husband, son, brother and friend. Maybe as a decent musician, too. I hope I am regarded as someone who touched a few lives in my time here. What more could I ask for?"