Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Suicidal Thoughts

I've made no secret that I've battled depression on and off for much of the past ten years, since the death of my wife.  It is a hard thing to deal with.  There were days when I struggled to just get out of bed in the morning, and more than a few when I didn't at all, preferring to stay under the covers and snooze.  It didn't help that I was suffering from sleep apnea, too, which kept me from any kind of good sleep.  The combination of the two made me miserable.  On top of all that, I have a fairly difficult job, managing a large workforce of more than 100 employees.  I've felt completely overwhelmed at times, but I'm so thankful for a Savior who loves me and takes care of me.  I don't know how I would do it without Him.

Despite how depressed I've been at times, I've never so depressed that I would ever consider suicide.  I can't imagine being so despondent that I would want to take my own life.  In fact, with a young daughter, I worry more about my health than at any other time in my life.  It scares me too much to think what could happen to my little girl should something happen to me.

I got word today that someone I know was having suicidal tendencies, and was battling severe depression.  It had gotten so bad for him that he was admitted to the hospital to be kept under observation, since he was a possible danger to himself and those around him.  I don't know the cause of his depression, but since I have a connection with him, I've begun wondering whether I might have noticed he was having difficulties, or even more disturbing, that maybe I contributed to them.  It's a sobering thought.  I'm praying for him, and I hope he is able to get well and find the help he needs.

It reminded me of so many other times when someone close to me was impacted by suicide.  Years ago, as a youth counselor at my church, I got to know a young man named Frankie.  Frankie and his younger brother had struggled with their parent's divorce, and were forced to live back and forth between their parent's homes.  Their mother had recently remarried, and the boys were struggling with their relationship with their step-dad.  I'm not aware of whether there was any abuse going on, but I know the boys enjoyed their time with the youth group.  One evening, though, I got a phone call from the youth director.  Frankie's mother had been murdered by their step-dad.  He had shot and killed her, then turned the gun on himself, committing suicide.  Fortunately, the brothers still had their father, and they were safely with him the night this occurred.  But it was all over the news, and it was a difficult time for their family.  It was very much a tragedy.  When the boys finally returned to the youth group several weeks later, we did all we could to make sure they felt loved and accepted.  Several months later, they moved away from the area, and I never heard from them again.  I've often wondered about them, and how they turned out.  But I also realize that their step-father must have been battling something to feel he needed to take his life, and his wife's.

Several years ago, I was dating a woman in Oklahoma City.  She worked in the same organization as I do, except she was based out there.  One of her close friends at work, an older guy who was approaching retirement, had been talking to her a lot about his future, and how much he was dreading retirement, but he knew that's what his wife wanted him to do.  About a week before he was due to retire, he left the office early, drove out to one of the lakes just outside of the city, and stood on the edge of a pier, with his back to the water.  He took a gun and shot himself in the head, causing his body to wall backwards into the water.  My girlfriend called me later that morning, after finding out from the police about what had happened.  She was shocked and very emotional about the whole thing, and, like others, she wondered if there was anyway she could've prevented his death, or if she could have seen any of the signs of his depression.  It haunted her for days.  Again, I just can't comprehend becoming so depressed and despondent that you would take your own life.

My grandmother became addicted to prescription drugs, and it caused a tremendous strain on our family.  She was not the same person she used to be.  She went from being a loving lady to becoming a very mean and, at times, nasty woman.  It was hard to be around her.  Then, one night, we got a call that she had taken a drug overdose and was taken to the hospital.  She was placed on a respirator and was comatose for several days.  The family gathered at the hospital, where the doctors declared that she was brain dead.  The respirator was turned off and her body stopped breathing.  Her suicide attempt was successful.  And we were the ones who suffered.  She was 66 years old.  I was 12 at the time, and it was the first death of someone close to me I'd ever experienced.  I remember crying at school when I found out.  It was so hard to comprehend.

I pray for these people that feel there is no other way.  It has to be awful to feel that way.  I hope that they can be surrounded by loved ones, whether friends or family, that will help them.  It's just so sad.  There is always a better solution than suicide.  It's just a matter of getting help for the person before the suicidal thoughts take over.

I really don't know what more to say about this subject.  It was weighing on my heart today, and I can tell when God is directing a post for this blog.  This is one of those times.

Stay safe, my friends.  Best wishes and blessings!

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