Life and Living: The Pain Left Behind…

Malinda Gayle "Mindy" McCready - (1975 - 2013)

Malinda Gayle “Mindy” McCready –
(1975 – 2013)

“Through early morning fog, I see
visions of the things to be
The pains that are withheld for me,
I realize and I can see…”
(“Suicide Is Painless”, by Johnny Mandel and Michael Altman, from the 1970 movie, “M*A*S*H”.)

     After reading this evening’s news, I felt I had to write something. I simply couldn’t allow these events to remain in the “complete waste” bucket. Earlier today, 37-year-old country music artist Mindy McCready, after a years-long battle with manic depression and substance abuse, took her own life. She leaves behind two children, the youngest one a mere ten months young. One of the most tragic aspects of this story, is that this child just lost his father last month, in the exact same place and in the exact same way.

     Trying hard. See, I don’t want this piece to be just another one of the plethora of commentaries that have already been written on the subject of suicide, because it seems that, though we writers and opiners do our best to comment on it and dissuade people from going down that road, people still take their own lives. The depression, stress and / or hopelessness overwhelms whatever positive aspects mark out a person’s life, and they succumb to the darkness of their despair.

     My fine, young readers, I will now share something with you that I have as of yet, left unshared here. I have indeed contemplated “ending it all”, on a few occasions. I know I’m not alone in this, because I’ve done the research and read the studies on how many people who state that they have contemplated suicide. I know that depression can become a “force to be reckoned with”, and that situations can take on a gargantuan and insurmountable appearance. Yes folks, I have “been there, thought about that.”

     Needless to say, I’m still here. Not only am I still here, I’m glad of the fact! (If I wasn’t, you wouldn’t be reading this!) I yet draw breath, and will do so for the foreseeable future, because I love and am loved. I’m a family man, and have been since the late eighties. Had I decided to follow through with those hasty, yet intense thoughts while in the grips of depression, what would have become of my family? How would they cope with my premature departure? Short answer…not well.

     What does taking one’s own life accomplish? For the dearly departed, it might indeed be a guaranteed end to perceived problems. What do the dead care for the concerns of the living? (I know that sounds pretty callous, but please let me digress just a bit…) Once a person is gone, so are the problems that are, or were bringing them such pain and despair, right? Wrong. More often than not, those problems just get foisted off onto those left behind to clean up the mess while mourning us at the same time, and it also creates a host of new difficulties as well. In addition, I can’t help but think of the many suicide attempts that have less-than-successful results, (as if death could realistically be considered a “success”!) leaving the person severely disabled and creating additional hardships for those entrusted with their long-term care needs.

     Within the last few years, suicide rates among American service members have taken a drastic and unfortunate upswing. In the midst of this increase, the commanding general of Fort Bliss, MG Dana Pittard, opined in January of 2012 that suicide was “an absolutely selfish act.” General Pittard later came under fire for his opinions, and was pressured to retract his statements. (1) I however, am not as bound by the influence and opinions of certain congressmen, (yes Congressman Thomas Rooney, I’m referring to you!) so I’ll carry on where Dana left off. Yes, suicide is an act which is ultimately selfish by its nature. Those of us that have walked up to the edge of that cliff and peered over the edge into the abyss will readily admit that fact, if we’re to be entirely honest with ourselves and with others! What does a person think about when they’re sitting there, with the proposed “McGuffin” of their dramatic plot in their grasp? Where are their thoughts centered? I’m here to tell you that the majority of personal identifiers in that monologue are either “me”, “my”, “mine” or “I”.

     Here’s the thing, ladies and gentlemen. There are those of us out here, that have made it our lot in life and our mission, to listen. We understand that no one person is meant to be an island unto themselves. No matter how alone a person feels, they’re not truly alone. Given that there are over 300 million people in this country alone, the chances are that there’s at least a hundred other people if not more, that have the same general concerns as you do. Out of that hundred, at least ten of those would take the time to listen. (At least I would hope so, and that’s yet another key idea; to find, have and hold onto hope, for dear life!)

     If you’re reading this while finding yourself in that most dire of situations, the first thing I’ll tell you is don’t do it. It might seem like the “easy solution”, but in reality it’s anything but. While it might seem hard, start making a list of the reasons to stick around. Things you want to do, places you want to see, people you might like to meet someday. No, don’t say that it will never happen, because you can’t tell the future. (If you could, you’d be doing three shows a night in Las Vegas, and making a fortune!) No one knows for certain just what the future may hold, and that desperate situation you’re in right now may be, or may give way to opportunities that you hadn’t even considered. There’s always that chance. Yes, there’s always a chance.

8 comments on “Life and Living: The Pain Left Behind…

  1. keith says:

    Mr. Morgan, I was going to tell you that you should have made good on your suicidal thoughts, but I won’t; however, I will call B.S. on your supposed experience at the precipice. You did not mention the extreme confusion, in addition to the admittedly subjective feelings of anguish, that is quite palpable for many legitimate sufferers of depression; indeed you only focus on banal arguments that suppose suicide is made with a clear head. Had you ever SERIOUSLY “looked into the abyss” you would temper your facts with the knowledge that even the best arguments against suicide can seem ridiculous at best, and even conspiratorial at worst. In short, people who kill themselves are oftentimes not in their right mind. You must consider this with respect, or otherwise risk sounding disingenuous and critical to those who are so vulnerable and sensitive. Nothing wrong with pointing out the harsh realities of suicide, but, dude, even the most stable people detest judgements and resist the arguments of those who make them.

    • Keith, you can “call BS” if you’d like, however since you’re not privy to my life’s particulars, it would be rather presumptuous for you to do so, don’t you think?

      You do bring up some valid points, though! The “best arguments against suicide”…hmm. How about simply, “DON’T DO IT”? How about the fact that no one can tell what the future may hold? I think those are some pretty compelling arguments, nothing conspiratorial or ridiculous about that. The point that I was trying to make, and I may not have made it in the best way possible, I’ll grant you, was that the decision to end one’s own life is most often one that is hastily arrived at, without sitting down and taking some time to think things out. Rationalise. Put things in their proper perspective.

      Maybe I need to do a follow-up piece on this, as there are evidently, several additional aspects to the issue of suicide that I haven’t gone into. I would also invite your input, regardless of your opinion that I should not even be here to write the piece. 😉

      • keith says:

        Mark, obviously I don’t have the capacity to get my point across to you. In my first response I was livid that you not only hitched your wagon to the general’s callous remarks that were made out of ignorance, but you doubled-down on the argument that suicide is *simply* selfish and whimsical. Also, you still seem to marginalize the roles confusion and an inability to trust in others can often play, so I recommend you speak with a professional or two for perhaps a better interpretation of what I have tried, but have failed, to convey. Anyway, good luck in your endeavors, I honestly wish you well. P.s. depression is analogous to illness; a cold is an illness, but so is cancer. You wouldn’t think of cancer as being in league with a cold, yet well-meaning people often lump the different strata of depression, with its various degrees of longevity, severity, and causes into the same group.

        • keith says:

          Mr. Morgan, sorry, didn’t mean to call you Mark. Looked at the wrong name on the post below mine as a reference and confused myself.

        • I wouldn’t say that suicide is “whimsical” at all! No, on the contrary; I would think that suicide is quite often the undesirable result of months, maybe years of issues that don’t get addressed. If what I penned seemed like I was stating otherwise, then that’s my shortcoming, and a “mea culpa” is definitely warranted.

          I’m confident that you have the capacity to get your ideas across, maybe I’m just not grasping the full impact of what you’re trying to convey. (I think I’m starting to, though, and you can feel free to tell me I’m “all wet” if that’s indeed the case! You don’t have to agree with me to communicate with me, and getting some contrary input might open my eyes to possibilities and concepts that I might not have considered yet!)

          “Confusion, and an inability to trust in others”. I get what you’re saying, at least I think I might. I did express in the seventh paragraph down that no one should consider themselves an island, but maybe I should have expanded on that a bit more.

          • keith says:

            Mr. Morgan, I encourage you to do a follow-up piece. I wish that I could be of some value here. Good luck and thanks for your courtesy. – k

  2. Thanks for sharing your story, Mark! 🙂

  3. I don’t know that I’m right here but I have a suspicion almost everyone contemplates suicide in their darker moments, at least once in their life.

    My story: Physically active in the sporting field, tennis, basketball, volleyball, but nothing professional. I had a physical job, working on the drill rigs in the mining industry. If you want to see hard work try working as an offsider on a RAB rig. I worked as an offsider and then a driller.

    Everything about me was looking rosy, I hadn’t a care in the world.

    BUT THEN!!!!

    I had a little motorcycle accident on 2nd January 1994, late afternoon, and ended up in hospital for almost 5 months. Closed head injury, broken neck, broken back, right brachial plexus injury, fractured jaw, collapsed lung and a severely ruptured right knee. Folks, I was not in a good way.

    Thankfully most of those injuries have healed up as well as they can so it’s not as if I’m an invalid, but sometimes I sort of wish I was, as strange as that might sound.

    I was certainly mentally gifted before my accident, and I’d like to think I still am, but I’m nowhere near as mentally capable as I was prior to my accident.

    What hurts the absolute most is not being able to find employment.

    Think of it from the prospective employers point of view: 2 people, or more, approach you to apply for a position you have advertised. They both seem qualified for the job and to have the relevant experience, but one of them has a disability. (right arm pretty much useless). Who would you choose for the job? Sure we’d like to think that we’d give the disabled guy a go and see what happens but the reality is that just doesn’t happen.

    That is the most frustrating thing of all, not being able to feel useful in life.

    Me? I had a great work ethic, literally every job I’ve had I’ve been quickly promoted to positions of leadership because I showed a great ability and understanding of the job.

    To cut a long story short, because of my inability to get a job i have contemplated and even tried to commit suicide. One thing I’ll say about Australia’s gun laws is that it’s a good thing we don’t have anywhere near the access to guns that the US does otherwise you can be sure I wouldn’t be posting this.

    Is suicide a selfish act? Yes, of course it is. I tried to minimize the effect my suicide would have others by getting my affairs in order before I tried, so there wouldn’t have been a great effect there. I distanced myself from people to minimize the effects there.

    So while acknowledging that suicide is selfish it doesn’t always need to be as selfish an act as it would normally be. I know that family and friends would grieve but that’s short term.

    I have a son now who is nearly 16 but I see him so seldom.

    Are the thoughts still there? Of course. I don’t know whether I will ever be free of thoughts of suicide but they ARE very dim and easily outweighed by good thoughts, at the moment.

    But here we are thinking solely about suicide being a selfish act when the reality is that EVERYTHING that is done by ANYONE is a totally selfish act.

    Why do people donate money to charities? Sure, they know that the recipients can and will use the money for good purposes but is that the reason they do it? No. They do it to feel good about the fact that they have done it. Literally every act can be reduced back to the “I” or “ME” essence, the only difference is values.

    A generous person will feel better about giving their time, money, efforts away to others so they will do it more readily. A very selfish person values that which he/she possesses and will try to get that, at the expense of others. What he/she possesses is of greater value to him/her than seeing someone else benefit from their actions.

    So the whole Idea of selfish will mean different things to different people.

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