I don’t even know how to begin. My ex-husband killed himself last week. We were good friends after our divorce. I keep asking myself the same question. I just want to know why. I am going insane trying to figure out why. His note gave me no explanation.
I am broken,
The first thing that I can tell you about suicide is that there is no “why.” Nothing about suicide makes sense.
Most everything people do in life has some sense behind it. This sentence—hopefully—makes sense. Your daily routine makes sense.
You go to the store. You eat healthy. You exercise. You pay your taxes so the IRS employees can take paid family vacations to the British Virgin Islands. Things make sense.
But suicide isn’t about sense.
I was 11 years old when my father swallowed the barrel of a rifle. I was a hapless redhead with a perpetual smile. Life was pretty good.
Then, one summer day, my dad died by a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.
His decision was one that defied logic. Nobody understood his choice. Sense? His final act was nonsensical. Logic? There was none.
Over the years, I have thought about what he did. Examined it. Pondered it. Tried to make sense of it. But it’s a fool’s puzzle. It’s like trying to make four dollars out of nine nickels.
It’ll never happen, sister. And yet I keep trying to do it. I keep trying to see things from his point of view.
He was depressed. Maybe that was why he did it.
After all, depression is not like other diseases. It kills from the inside out. First it kills your social circle. Then it ruins your family. Then it steals your personality so that nothing excites you.
After a while, nothing even aggravates you anymore. Because in order to get aggravated, you have to have some ambition left. But you have no ambition.
So it could’ve been that.
Or it could have been some other kind of mental breakdown. Mental illness doesn’t play by the rules. If you’ve known anyone suffering from mental illness, you know what I’m talking about.
Maybe my father lost his sense of direction. Maybe up became down. Black became purple. Wrong became right. I don’t know.
But there are other reasons, too. I have known people, for example, diagnosed with physical diseases. These people decided to end their lives because they didn’t want to be a sick person.
I have known people who suffered the loss of a spouse. The death of a child. Some career or financial failure. They couldn’t go on.
Or it could have been related to a past trauma. I knew a guy, he was my age, who fought in the War in Afghanistan. They found him in the backseat of his truck. The note on his windshield said, “I can’t do this [blank] no more.”
Fact: Each day, 22 veterans die by suicide.
What I’m getting at is, I don’t know why my father did it. I never will. Neither will you ever know why your loved one chose brain death over life.
What I DO know is that I must respect the decision my father made. It took me decades to respect the idea of a healthy man eating a hunting rifle. But I am finally at a stage where I respect his decision.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not saying I agree with his choice. I am not saying I like his choice. I am not certifying his choice. I am not giving a thumbs-up to his choice. I am simply saying that, right or wrong, it was his decision to make. And I respect that.
So now what do I do? Where do I go from here? What do you do after someone shoots themselves in the head and leaves your life in tattered rags? What can you do?
The answer is: Not much.
But that doesn’t mean your life is over. Because you can still do the major things. You can still breathe. You can still put your shoes on one at a time. You can walk. Eat. Go to the bathroom. Grocery shop. Your heart still beats. Your circulatory system still functions.
And you can still help people. You can try to stop others from killing themselves. You can, quite literally, help yank someone from the flames of hell itself.
I have made this my goal in life, to urge as many as I can to step away from the ledge of suicide. I’m just one guy. I’m not educated. I’m not a therapist. I can’t do much.
But I can do something, dang it. I might not bring my father back. But just by talking about it, who knows, I might save the daddy of some hapless redheaded boy.
And that’s not nothing.