Matthew Dovel is not a writer, but he is a published author.
As confusing as that sounds, Dovel is a computer and mathematics whiz who felt compelled to write his autobiography.
Dovel has been to the “dark side.” He almost drowned when he was 12. He attempted suicide at 25. That he is still here today, at 42, Dovel believes is because he is carrying a message that needs to be told.
“My Last Breath” was published in 2003. It follows Dovel’s life from a youngster growing up in San Diego to military service in Alaska. From one who took his first drink as a “nerdy” high school student to one who became a serious substance abuser with a $1,000-a-week alcohol and drug habit to one who quit cold turkey 17 years ago after a suicide attempt, it’s a story about an individual who believes he’s alive today to keep others from following a similar path.
Dovel, a four-year resident of Seven Hills, operates a successful computer consulting business and works with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts. He also is a licensed property and casualty insurance agent. He is in his third marriage, this one to Louise Barrera, and he has an 18-year-old daughter, Brittanie Dovel.
Dovel has no idea how many of his books have sold. That’s not his main focus. The book, which is available at Barnes & Noble and Borders, is “for one person. If it saves one person, great,” he says.
“I am not a holy roller,” Dovel says. “I’m just a normal guy. I was told (by the Lord) to quit drinking and doing drugs, and I did. My goal is to help somebody or give somebody the ability to help others.”
He has been a guest on radio shows throughout the country. He has been contacted by a California congressman. He is even writing a second book. “My Last Breath: The Book of Desire.”
“There are a lot of people who need to hear about suicide prevention,” Dovel says. “It’s not just from alcohol and drugs. It’s because of antidepressant drugs. It’s an epidemic.”
When Dovel speaks about suicide and prevention, he almost seems evangelical. But then, he talks from first-hand experience. Dovel remembers the day he drove his car to a spot on a highway outside of Anchorage, Alaska, drank gin and took sleeping pills. What happened afterwards is a bit surreal. Dovel has no idea how he ended up back in a friend’s home. He does know that he was scared straight.
“I was so angry for 12 years,” Dovel says, recalling the aftermath of a time when while engaging in horseplay with friends, he “drowned” after spending between 5 and 10 minutes on the bottom of a pool. He had a vision of heaven that day, and was angry that he could not relive it during the 12 years before his suicide attempt which was another effort to reach heaven.
Dealing with a “messed-up nervous system” and kidney failure during the next six months, Dovel came to the realization that he was meant to do more on earth. He chose Las Vegas because “this is the place where I am needed. Drug addiction, alcoholism and gambling are rampant here.”
Dovel, however, is not a preacher. He merely wants to get to people before they contemplate suicide, which he calls “an unforgivable sin because you can never ask for forgiveness.”
—October, 2004 Issue "215 South Magazine"