For years I had always hear that 'everyone knows at least one person that has committed suicide'. For years I thought I was one of the lucky ones who got to go through life without this being true for them.
Then in the summer of 2006 I got a call from my mom. My biological father (who I hardly knew) had killed himself. Even though I barely knew him it hit me hard and I struggled with what emotions to feel. A few months earlier I had gotten an email from him, the first contact with him in over 6 years, in which he for the first time ever apologized. Looking back it was the note of someone struggling with a lot of things. I felt guilt for blowing him off after that email. I felt guilt for not giving him that other chance he had seemingly been looking for.
That is when I realized that if I felt that strongly about the suicide of a relative stranger how would the suicide of a friend or even loved one affect me? Yet still, it did not seem like something I would ever have to deal with.
A year later L's mental health started getting worse and worse. I knew he was depressed yet the thought that he might be suicidal did not cross my mind. He never said he was, so we were okay. Or at least that was my conscious thought on this subject. In October 2007 we were at home watching the Food Network after our then 11-months old was in bed. It was almost 10pm and we were relaxing before going to bed soon ourselves. He had been depressed but things actually seemed to be getting better. We were having a pretty decent and normal conversation. Until within minutes things changed.
L got up to use the bathroom and came back with his gun. He sat down and before I knew what was happening was pointing it at himself. He was crying, telling me that he couldn't go on, that it was just too much. I had NEVER been so scared in my life up until that point. Not for my own well being but for his. Everything else is a blur from that time. I don't remember how I got him to give up his gun to me but somehow I did talk him into giving it to me. We both cried and cried.
The next morning I called his local VA clinic and spoke to their social worker to get L to be seen ASAP. They saw him that same day but by then he had convinced himself that he was okay. That it had been a one time thing. They tried to get him to admit himself to an inpatient stay but he told himself that he did not need to go. I did not know much about suicide and mental illness at that time so I believed him.
A week later he was admitted to the hospital for a severe psychotic breakdown and for the first time the diagnosis of 'BIPOLAR' was mentioned.
That is when I first started blogging and made it my personal goal to learn as much as I could about all of this and to reach out to others in my situation. I did not know of any resources at that time and I want to help others who might be in that situation (and those who think they never will be) to know that there IS help out there and that they are not alone.
If you or a loved one feel suicidal you can call one of the many lifelines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or Hopeline. There are trained people there who can help you find the help you, your friend or family member might need. Please check out the Resources link on the top of this page for some more great resources for various mental health issues.
Every 40 seconds someone takes their life by suicide. You are not alone. Reach out and let someone help you. Suicide is something that affects us all sooner or later in our life. It is best to be prepared for when this time comes for you.
Friday, September 10, 2010
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