This article is written for all who struggle with suicide.
Imagine for a moment that we were losing 22 servicemen (and women) a day in oversea combat operations (what we call war) in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, etc. Now imagine that we were losing 154 servicemen (and women) a week in these, and other, areas. Now imagine we were losing over 615 servicemen (and women) a month. Imagine this went on day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year. There are statistics that we are losing 22 Veterans a Day to suicide.
This article is written for Active Duty and Veterans and for all who struggle with suicide.
If you are Active Duty, or a Veteran, and are having a really hard time dealing with everything, then stop and talk. Will the person you talk with understand? Did he (or she) see what you’ve seen, hear what you’ve heard, or experience what you’ve experienced? Has he or she felt guilty for living and being while others are gone forever?
No. He or she has not walked in your boots and has not endured what you endured. No.
But, you can still talk! You can still try! Talk!
Why? Because you’re important, that’s why. Because the world, your unit, your brothers (and sisters) in arms are better for your presence. Because when you’re gone, you’re gone. Then only the enemy wins. Live for the ones who didn’t. Only the enemy wants you dead. Talk!
Some fear a stigma of mental health, depression, PTSD, Survivor’s Guilt, and much more. Some worry that seeking help won’t be good for their career. I need to tell you something straight up: Your suicide will not be good for your career. Suicide is career ending. Talk!
Suicide is a taboo subject. If we talk about it someone might commit suicide. People are already committing suicide; not talking about suicide is not stopping suicide and it’s not helping anyone. If you think someone is suicidal, or if you’re reading this and you’re suicidal, then talking about it can actually help. It gets it out in the open. Talk!
Some believe that a person who talks about suicide isn’t serious. Almost everyone who makes a fatal attempt tells someone first. Some keep deadly secrets and won’t tell others when someone has told them that they can’t take it anymore and just want to end it, or that the world would be a better place without them. Deadly secrets have deadly outcomes. Don’t keep deadly secrets. Better to have an angry friend than lose one forever. Talk!
Some believe that talking about or attempting suicide is attention seeking behavior – that the person isn’t serious. When a person says something that makes you think that they are suicidal then listen and take it seriously, it may be their last conversation. Talk!
Some believe that if a person is serious about suicide then nothing can be done to prevent it. Something can be done and that’s listening and getting the person help through the Emergency Room, Crisis Line, or counseling centers. The life you save may be your friend, family, neighbor, or stranger. Talk!
Why do people attempt suicide? There are many reasons including an overwhelming sense of pain, hopelessness, and helplessness. Life can be deeply painful including, but not limited to, losses of family, ability, job, relationships and endurance of abuse at school, work, home, or online. Some who attempt suicide have a prior mental health diagnosis while others have no prior mental health history and seem to act impulsively with alcohol and firepower. Talk!
For a moment let’s consider this – you’re overwhelmed by losses and pain in your life, you’re in a dark and desperate state and you want it to end. Life can be terrible and deeply painful. Sometimes the pain comes from surviving when others did not. Yes, people of all faiths and backgrounds experience overwhelming adversity. Imagine, or acknowledge, that you’re thinking of killing yourself. What are you to do? Suicide is a desperate gamble. Would you gamble all that’s important to you on a bet? I mean what’s really important like your life, family, and everything you value on a bet? Most would say no, they wouldn’t gamble absolutely everything on a bet. Yet that’s exactly what you’re doing when attempting suicide – you’re gambling everything, your very life, that the pain will stop and you’ll be better. What if you’re wrong? Talk!
In a prior job, I used to talk with people every day who were dying, family of people who had died, and people who had attempted suicide. Each and every day. I asked people who had attempted suicide if they wanted to be happy or dead? I would ask if they could recall or describe a time when they were happy and how they could get to that place again. Some described terribly abusive domestic violence relationships. I said that love is neither fearful, violent, nor abusive. People would say that they didn’t so much want to die when they attempted suicide, but that they just didn’t want their circumstances to continue and couldn’t see any other possible way out. Talk!
I have spoken on many, many occasions with survivors of suicide – the family and friends of a person who has taken their own life. Survivors experience tremendous guilt and pain about what could have been done to prevent a suicide. If you’re reading this and you’re a survivor then you need to know that you are not responsible for someone else’s actions. You are not. If you’re considering suicide then please know that people will not be better off without you. You are not a burden. Also know that suicide is contagious. Ask people who have attempted and they will tell you of family, friends, classmates, and co-workers who took their own life. Talk!
Suicide is not limited to one race, income, faith, orientation, or gender. It is an equal opportunity killer. What are warning signs of suicide? There are many and they include, but are not limited to: suicide of a friend or relative, prior suicide attempts, saying that you want to die or end it all, depression, substance abuse, giving away items of special value and/or getting your affairs in order, changes in sleep and/or eating, self-isolating from friends and family, outbursts of anger or crying, failures in school or work, apathy about the present or the future, a sudden change in attitude to happiness from anger and sadness. Talk!
This has been a painful article to write. I felt it necessary due to the prevalence of suicide in our community, state, and nation. Suicide is in our schools, churches, military, theaters, First Responders, families, veterans, and homes. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America.
If you’re considering suicide call the FAIRBANKS Crisis Line 24 hours / 7 days at (907) 452- 4357 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255. Text: any message to 838255
Call Fort Wainwright Behavior Health Clinic at (907) 361-6059
If you’ve lost someone to suicide call Hospice at 458-3090 for free grief support and the Suicide Survivors Support group that meets the 2nd Wednesday of each month from 6-8pm.
A Suicide Support Group meets the last Wednesday of each month the Arctic Resource Center for Suicide Prevention from 6-8pm. Call Jim Wisland at 907-987-6829 for more information.
You can call me at St. Paul Church at (907) 479-7998
Online: http://suicideprevention.nv.gov/Youth/Myths/, https://www.psf.org/
Printed in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner’s Faith section, Nov 15, 2019.
Married 26 years, 2 kids, 1 cat and 1 dog. Ordained & Chaplain for 20 years. Ministry philosophy - we're all in this together and Jesus leads the way. Hobbies: working in the woodshed, teaching, and competitive shooting