“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.