In the last month, I have been hit with very bad news; another person I have known had committed suicide. This time, the suicide was one of my old high school classmates whom had served in the military for four years. This was now the fourth male that I have attended school with along with two females, a neighbor, and a movie director. These statistics do not even include the people that I have known whom have attempted to take their own lives and were fortunate enough to have people intervene and stop their deaths from taking place.
It is not easy to write this article as I am having flashbacks to memories I have had with each one of these people. Ironically enough, most of my memories of these people were of good times and laughing with them. One of the biggest regrets that I have had in dealing with these suicides is the fact I never got to tell these people how much they meant to me. I always think, “if only someone could have talked to these people including neighbors, friends, classmates, and co-workers.” I wish I could have talked to them and tried to intervene or help these people get help.” My friends and I have been able to help two of our female friends and get them help just in time which is the good news; the bad news is the people that we couldn’t help.
One of the biggest things that people think about is the question of why the person has decided that their problems were so big that they decided to put a permanent end to a problem. In dealing with the people that I have known, there were common themes. Some people had legal problems while others were depressed or had suffered abuse. Ironically enough, only one person that I can think of had a medical issue.
One of the saddest moments I have had was when I was in college and I was coming home to my apartment after being at the news station. I pulled into my parking spot only to see crime tape across my neighbor’s door. I asked what happened and found out that she had taken her own life after she had lost a custody battle in her divorce. Ironically, the woman was a paralegal and worked for one of the top law firms in the city. To this day, I wonder what would have happened if she could have hung in and kept fighting for her child. The pain must have been so bad that she could not bear it anymore. The sad part of the whole situation was that her child whom is not an adult now will never get to see her ever again.
In another situation, a girl that I went to high school and college with had a boyfriend whom was in a great deal of debt. In a very desperate attempt, he took his bills and spread them all over the floor. After this, he took a gun and shot himself in the head before calling the news station. The sad part of the whole situation was the fact that he lived for awhile and my two friends had to drive to the hospital and see him after he had just shot himself. I will never forget how tragic this was and how I had to see the impact on my dorm-mates as they had to deal with the aftermath. I will never forget seeing the one woman punching her hand into the wall in frustration and crying out. I remember seeing articles in Los Angeles about men with families whom had become so overwhelmed with their debts that they took their lives. Unfortunately, one man took the lives of his family members along with his own life. The whole matter of suicides is very tragic and is an increasing problem growing in epidemic proportions.
Another friend that I grew up with and would walk to school with every day had also taken his own life. I will never forget the call that I had from a friend whom conveyed the bad news that “Tommy” had taken his own life. I was very sad and had memories of hanging out with “Tommy” and growing up with him. I remembered his mother and how she would always waive to us as we were walking off to school. It is very sad to think of the impact that his suicide had on his family and friends and if he only knew how many people cared about him. Once again, I cannot help but wonder what could have happened or could have been different had someone been able to intervene and help him with his problems before they became so overwhelming to him.
Depression is always a major factor in people whom choose to end their lives. Sometimes, the biggest surprises of people whom commit suicide are the ones whom seem to have it all. Many of these people have great wealth, friends, family, social status, and amazing jobs. People in the entertainment industry are examples of the ones whom seem to have it all and yet seem to be very sad deep down inside. Some of the people suffer from mental illness while others may be temporarily depressed. I have personally witnessed some of my acting friends whom have everything going for them and yet seem to crack under the pressure.
Watching a person suffer is a very hard thing to do. I have seen people with amazing talent become depressed and turn to the wrong sources in order to deal with their depression whether it be drugs, alcohol, gambling or hanging out with the wrong people. Sometimes, a person just needs to know that people care about them and that a higher power can also help with the situation.
MILITARY AND PTSD
In the latest bit of bad news, I found out that one of my classmates had “hanged” himself. I was very confused as to what had happened. When I asked my friend, he told me that the “Brian” was in the military and had gone through a painful divorce when he had gotten out. In an attempt to understand what happened to the my friend that I had remembered as being happy, I looked up the statistics and was startled to see that people in the military were killing themselves in record numbers. I was astonished to hear that the rate of suicides in military personal was averaging nearly one a day.
Soliders’are human beings and do not need to be treated like robots. Unfortunately many of the soldiers are coming home with medical issues, injuries, and a very high rate of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Multiple tours of duty are also a great cause for the PTSD along with the fact that our soldiers are in a constant state of awareness and have their lives on the line constantly. When the soldiers are coming home, they are faced with a high rate of unemployment, foreclosures, family issues, and great financial burdens.
BE A FRIEND AND SHOW PEOPLE YOU CARE
My biggest regret with all of the people involved is that they were not able to get the help that they needed or perhaps they felt hopeless. Sometimes, all someone needs is to feel that someone cares. I remember the time that my neighbor was suffering from a deep depression. The neighbor was a Vietnam Veteran and had some issues with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Depression. Creampuff has a sixth sense and knows when people are suffering.
My neighbor Tom was having a very tough time and was self medicating to the point that he was passing out and hit his head in his apartment. Creampuff went to the rescue and sensed the neighbor’s grief. Creampuff scratched at the door to be let out and ran down to check on the neighbor. Tom and Creampuff formed a very strong bond to the point that he would ask to babysit Creampuff. The cat that had been on death row at the animal shelter and was a rescue pet formed a very strong bond with the Vietnam Vet to the point that they would be drawn to each other and beg to hang out together.
I remember seeing the neighbor Tom and checking up on him. As he was driving, I noticed him wearing a rubber bracelet that the VA had given him. The bracelet had the phone number for a suicide hotline for veterans. To this day, I think Creampuff helped Tom through some tough times. I guess that the moral of the story could be that if a little fluffy cat can help save the life of a former Marine, we as people should be able to reach out to each other and help each other in times of need. When a person tries to tell you that he or she is hurting, please listen and take is seriously, if not, it could be the last time you may see that person and you may always wonder what if someone just could have talked to them. Please don’t wait until it is too late!
FOR MORE INFORMATION HERE ARE THE NUMBERS FOR THE SUICIDE HOTLINES:
VETERANS: (800) 273-8255
REGULAR: (800) 273-8255 TALK or (800) SUICIDE OR (800) 784-2433
THERE ALSO OTHER RESOURCES SUCH AS PRAYER LINES, ETC.
700 CLUB 800-823-6053 24 HOUR PRAYER LINE