Don’t Do It

It happened long ago, when this writer was just a kid. And even though the writer is a grown man now, even though he has a family, he’ll always be a kid when he retells this story.

The kid had a father. The father was forty-one. Tall. Handsome. Red hair. One Sunday, the kid’s family threw his father a birthday party. It was a grand affair with steak for supper. There was singing, joyous voices, card games, redneck music on a boombox, and laughing.

The kid’s mother made a cake with blue icing. The room went black, the candles were lit. The kid’s father took one breath and blew them all out. Everyone seemed so happy.

The following Tuesday, something was off. The kid noticed his old man’s face had changed somehow. Something behind the eyes was different. It was like the kid didn’t know this man anymore. How could it happen so quickly? How could the utter joy be replaced with The Blackness?

There was a fight between his father and mother. A big one. A nuclear fight. The Hiroshima of Mom-and-Dad fights. Violence ensued. Threats were shouted. His father’s mind was not working normally. Something had snapped inside the man’s mind.

The kid’s mother pleaded. The father screamed things that weren’t making sense. The forty-one-year-old tossed furniture against walls. He hurt people. Spit frothed at the corners of his father’s mouth. The kid’s world was coming apart. All that was missing was Chicken Little.

“Daddy’s lost his mind,” was all the kid could tell his baby sister who screamed into the folds of his T-shirt.

“Call 911” shouted the kid’s mother.

There are too many things that happened on that night to write here. And besides, the goal of this writing is not to bring you down, I merely want to talk about a sickness.

The sickness I speak of is a sickness of the mind, but an illness nonetheless. This disease affects millions, although it is rarely talked about. It ruins the lives of hundreds of millions each year, but rarely receives any coverage unless the illness happens to someone famous.

The sickness goes by many different names, “depression” is one such name. But there are others. This disease kills about 130 people per day in the U.S. About 700,000 each year. Or let’s put it like this: Every 40 seconds, someone dies of suicide.

By the time you have finished reading this, somewhere in the world, four or five people will have already pulled the trigger.

Anyway, it was the worst night ever. And as far as the kid is concerned, there will never be a worse night. It was also the last time this kid ever saw his father. The next morning, they found the kid’s father in his brother’s garage with a shotgun in his limp hand.

And the illness won.

But what I want you to know is that this sick man was a good man. He was not evil. He was not selfish. He liked singing in church. He liked changing tractor belts. He was a practical joker. He was funny. He was sweet. He was just like you.

It was disease that killed the kid’s father. It was disease that tried to ruin the kid’s family. True, it was an unseen disease—like a tumor. And yes, it was a disease that gets poo-pooed by those with lesser minds. But it was an illness nevertheless, and it ate the kid’s father from the inside just like carcinoma.

The last thing the kid wants is for you to read this today and feel bad. There are too many things in the world to feel good about.

But perhaps you are a handsome person with a beautiful family. Maybe your wife made you a cake with blue icing for your birthday. Maybe you know there’s something wrong inside you, but you can’t quite put your finger on it.

Perhaps you overcompensate for your depression. Maybe you act falsely happy. Maybe you laugh too much. Smile too much in public. Maybe you’re a good actor. Mental illness is funny, that way. But maybe in the dimness of your bad nights you have dark thoughts. Maybe you feel like everyone would be better off if you were dead.

This kid begs you to get help. He is begging you with tears falling onto his keyboard as he writes. Don’t just get help for yourself. Do it for those you love. Do it for your kid. Do it because today is the anniversary of my father’s suicide, and I miss him a lot.

102 comments

  1. Peggy@peggysanders.com - September 14, 2021 6:30 am

    © Peggy Sanders
    Published in the anthology Woven on the Wind:
    Women Write About Friendship in the Sagebrush West

    If
    She killed herself. May 26, 1962, the day after being diagnosed with lupus erythematosus, she took a .410 shotgun, and shot herself to death. This followed two years of severe drought on the irrigation project where she lived, where the Angostura Dam was, that May, too low for farmers to get any water for their crops. The ‘experts’ even went so far as to say the dam would never again be full. Most people called her Oleta; I called her Mom. I was ten years old. If, if, if, she only hadn’t died…she would have seen the rain that started to fall two days after her death, and it rained, and rained, and rained. It more than filled Angostura Dam by the end of June. If, if, if, she had held on, the lives of my brother, my dad, and I would have been much different. If, if, if, she were alive, we would do the mother-daughter activities that I see my aunt and cousin do, my neighbor and her daughter do. I will forevermore be lonely for her.

    Reply
  2. Dawnie B - September 14, 2021 6:40 am

    Yes, please seek help! Depression can kill you, but there are so many ways now to control it.
    Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation.

    Reply
    • Susie - September 16, 2021 1:26 pm

      Peggy Sanders and Dawnie B., I agree with you both. Death is TOO final. Tomorrow IS another day and it CAN be better with help, talking about the condition and use of the appropriate meds. But one has to seek help. NOT EASY.

      Reply
    • Laura McAliley - September 17, 2021 12:51 am

      Please understand that, while the phrase “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation” is catchy and perhaps DOES describe some people’s issues, it does not address those who are and have been deeply depressed for a long while. The pain of those who have chronic or deep depression is NOT temporary to them; it is something that they live with every minute of every day. After a while, this changes the brain; and rational thinking is no longer possible to allow them to even hope that a better day lies ahead. That’s why it is critical that we get help for someone who is in this much pain. Brain chemistry is something that we are just barely touching the surface of now, but rest assured that it is an illness – of the brain. If serious therapy and/or medication are not implement, a person may one day successfully complete suicide due to their level of depression.

      Reply
      • Susie - September 17, 2021 3:32 pm

        Laura McAliley, you are so well spoken on this subject. I believe you are the same Laura who has sent in previous comments that were right on. And I seem to remember you are starting a new part of your career later in your life……..counseling………and well you should……….you certainly have the gift of explaining and conveying to others. Also, you must have done well and had an interest in science?? If so, it shows. Kudos to you, dear one. You are a friend to mankind. Thank you for you.

        Reply
        • Peggy - September 17, 2021 9:27 pm

          “Thank you for you.” That is going to be my new phrase of encouragement. What a lovely sentiment.

          Reply
  3. Katherine Smith - September 14, 2021 7:14 am

    For those who think and verbalized that suicide is a selfish act, I tell you from personal experience that it is a selfless act. When the solution to your pain becomes clear to you you begin your plan. By then you have convinced yourself that the ones you love would be better off without you. You are the problem.
    Rational thinking does not make an appearance. Suicide is in the “ now” and you never think of what it will do to your loved ones in the “future.” Suicide is the answer to stopping the pain.
    Thanks for listening.

    Reply
    • Peggy - September 14, 2021 5:22 pm

      I disagree. I think it is the most selfish act simply because “you never think of what it will do to your loved ones in the future.” My mom missed so much and I am still angry at her for what she did.

      Reply
      • Susie - September 16, 2021 1:38 pm

        Peggy, I’m so sorry you are so angry at you mama for leaving you. But if you don’t cut her some grace, let it go and forgive her, with each passing year, this anger will slowly kill YOU. Anger corrodes the vessel that contains it. Embracing you in my thoughts, Peggy.

        Reply
        • Susie - September 16, 2021 2:12 pm

          Peggy, Susie here, again. Perhaps another fact to consider in your healing is to realize that when your mama was at her lowest point (considering suicide), (bless her heart), it was simply NOT possible for her thinking to be rational. Serious depression does that; her thoughts and perceptions, at that point, were TOTALLY irrational. She, at that point, could not pull herself out of it without help. She desperately needed help and did not get it. 😔 Hugging you hard right now. You will be ok.

          Reply
  4. Erin N - September 14, 2021 7:15 am

    Oh, Sean. The image of you and your sister feels all too real for me. The before and after is so, so hard.

    September is my month of evil anniversaries, too. My husband’s garage night (the shed) falls on the 16th. Today, I have a fresh understanding of just how young I was then. This year it will be 29 years. Seems so strange to be nearly three decades ago. The memories are always simmering in the background, some days they’re just closer to the surface than others. PTSD is my companion to this day (thankfully demoted to occasional visitor)

    Your story is why I’ve always been thankful we hadn’t had kids yet. My heart would have broken again for them.

    Sending the kid—and the man he grew into—a big hug. Your dad would be proud.

    Reply
    • Te - September 14, 2021 11:16 am

      I admit, I am one who doesn’t understand depression. Not that I haven’t been depressed. I once contemplated suicide, but I’m a fighter. I gave up a child for adoption, and it took years to recover, although I made sure no one knew how much it affected me. I grew up in a violent family where one parent used it to relieve frustration and fear. Getting religion only meant God justified an attitude I did not understand. I went to school with evidence of physical violence on my face but I joked my way out of it. Hey, it was a kind of PTSD, only it was called being sullen, difficult, rrbellious. Back then, domestic violence was hidden and ignored. It was more important what the neighbors thought. I’ve made my peace with the past, but daily I realize what I missed by having a non-nurturing family. Good thing I was strong and a fighter.

      But the kind of depression you talk about — I admit I don’t understand it. I don’t understand giving up. I feel for you. With Mother Mary’s passing so close, it’s a double whammy on the old rollercoaster. Go hug Jaimie. Recognize the fighter in yourself. Cause you are one, too. You’re a survivor of that unseen demon, memory. It makes us who we are.

      Reply
  5. sparrowtracks - September 14, 2021 7:23 am

    Prayers and tears for you Sean

    Reply
  6. Leigh R Amiot - September 14, 2021 8:22 am

    Sean, my prayer just now was that those who are considering doing away with themselves would hear the voice of the Lord louder than the voices calling for their destruction. The number 700,000 was startling, more than the pandemic has taken in a year-and-a-half.

    Reply
  7. david grant - September 14, 2021 8:23 am

    Thank you for sharing. Yes depression is real and so is your writing. may the Lord continue to bless you and you continue to bless us with your gift of the pen/keyboard.

    Reply
  8. Keloth Anne - September 14, 2021 9:29 am

    Oh Sean, depression is so real and so misunderstood—my heart aches for the pain and sadness it causes. It’s an illness just like cancer or heart disease but folks don’t see it that way. I lost someone I loved so much to depression—he tried so hard but lost his battle with depression 💔💔
    Thank you for your willingness to be honest and discuss this subject—you are in my prayers and are so appreciated and loved. ♥️

    Reply
  9. Ann - September 14, 2021 9:47 am

    Well said…it has been in our family too and the more information gets out,the more help can be given….I’m so very sorry you have an anniversary like this….you may have saved at least one….hug your wife❤️❤️

    Reply
  10. stephenpe - September 14, 2021 9:55 am

    We love you, Sean.

    Reply
  11. Muriel - September 14, 2021 10:13 am

    Thank you for your courage to share this painful part of your life. It is so needed, I am very sorry.

    Reply
  12. oldlibrariansshelf - September 14, 2021 10:14 am

    My grandson was one of the class clowns. If only we could have seen his deep pain . . . . Grace and peace to you, Sean. You are a member of a group that no one seeks to join.

    Reply
  13. Amy - September 14, 2021 10:20 am

    Thank you so very much for sharing! Hugs and prayers for you ❤️🙏

    Reply
  14. Sue B - September 14, 2021 10:20 am

    Beautifully written and sadly, necessary that it had to be said. Mental illness carries such stigma and those who need help often are afraid to talk about what’s going on in their minds.

    Reply
  15. Ernie - September 14, 2021 10:26 am

    The “darkness” is terribly real. Terrible. And real. Prayer helps. But also seek professional help. Both have made a difference for me. Blessings.

    Reply
  16. Joan Moore - September 14, 2021 10:45 am

    Tears and hugs. John 10:28-30

    Reply
  17. brenheart - September 14, 2021 10:49 am

    OMG…I so know your pain, Sean💔😰💔😰💔. My son had mental illness and committed suicide in 2009. It rip my heart out, and left an 8 yr old boy and his Mom without a father and husband….he also used a shotgun!
    My son was very close to me and I was the last person he spoke to hours before he died. We had had numerous conversations about his fears and his mental condition, and I begged him to get help over and over. He refused with the excuse that “people will think I am crazy”!!! He was a sweet gentle man with a great sense of humor, a playful demeanor, and highly intelligent….but also an alcoholic. His family misses him every moment of every day💔💔💔💔

    Reply
  18. Helen Muir - September 14, 2021 10:54 am

    Thank you for sharing and God Bless You.

    Reply
  19. Lander - September 14, 2021 11:03 am

    Thanks, Sean. It’s a hard thing to keep being reminded of. And it’s also shaped and formed so much of who you are. Thanks for encouraging people to get help. Next month is the 10th anniversary of my uncle’s death by suicide.

    Reply
  20. Dee Jordan - September 14, 2021 11:04 am

    This is so needed. I tried killing myself many times until finally they tried me on Abilify in 2005, and the suicide ideation died! I knew within 48 hours of taking it that my life was going to change. Get help. Don’t be too proud to ask for it, help, and try an antidepressant. If it makes you more depressed, tell your doctor immediately and STOP it. They all act so differently with different people. One will work! And Abilify is a mood stabilizer. This column was needed. Thank you, Sean. And bless you for having gone through this.

    Reply
  21. Kathy - September 14, 2021 11:27 am

    Love to you.

    Reply
  22. Rita Munoz - September 14, 2021 11:44 am

    Thank you for sharing ,Sean. I too lost a parent to suicide when i was not quite 8 years old. The anniversary of my mother’s death was two weeks ago and even after all these years i still miss her. My prayers are with you today. Peace.

    Reply
  23. Susie Shultz - September 14, 2021 11:46 am

    Sean, thank you for sharing this ever-painful part of you. Maybe it will help others. I considered it at a low point in my young life, got help. I had never considered what it would do to those who loved me. Got to another pretty low point years later and realized I could never do that to those who loved me. People, just seek help. It’s out there.

    Reply
  24. Deb Becker - September 14, 2021 11:47 am

    You are right Sean, that illness overcame your dad. I hope you know that he loved you all and just couldn’t help what he did. It’s easy for others to say “how could he…” but they don’t understand mental illness. Your dad sounds like a very special guy; hold on to the good memories. You bring so much to all of us with your writing and I want you to know that…beauty from ashes

    Reply
  25. Elizabeth LeDuc - September 14, 2021 11:55 am

    Hard to find the words. I’m sorry. Remember to celebrate his birthday. So so glad he had a son, and the son liked to write. I’m praying for you because I believe in prayer’s power,
    And there is mental illness in my family, too.

    Reply
  26. Jean - September 14, 2021 11:55 am

    So sorry….and he could not help himself. There are many more like him…and I hope they get help. Maybe they will after reading your column. Peace Sean.

    Reply
  27. Bex - September 14, 2021 12:31 pm

    Sean, thank you!
    Mental illness is more prevalent than people realize. My family says, “Just get over it; tomorrow’s another day; just get out of bed and live life!” While admirable, these do not cure or even treat mental illness. Prayer and professional help are needed, often too late because families think people with mental illness are ‘lazy, slackers’ but when the reality hits and a suicide happens, it is too late. We have had more than our share of suicides in my family (both sides) and the loved ones left behind always suffer – I should have; I needed to push harder for him/her to get help; Why didn’t I see the signs? Why? How? Then the anger builds and “They took the coward’s way out!” With broken hearts, we love and miss the loved ones that were not thinking rationally. To them, it was escape.
    Rational thinking is not possible when the depression is so deep and dark, the pain so great that suicide seems like the only way out.
    People need to understand that mental illness can be managed with professional help and support from family and friends! But often, a person with mental illness is stigmatized, shunned and labeled lazy instead of helped and often, mental illness takes its toll on everyone when it wins.
    God bless.

    Reply
  28. elizabethroosje - September 14, 2021 12:32 pm

    Praying for on this always different anniversary. Will be in church soon and will light candles for you all ❤🕯🙏

    Reply
  29. Maggie Priestaf - September 14, 2021 12:33 pm

    Thank you, Sean. I have multiple grandkids with anxiety disorders among other mental health issues. Keep preaching it my friend.

    Reply
  30. Ray Huckabone - September 14, 2021 12:34 pm

    Thank you for sharing at this difficult time Sean. I’m generally a happy person but have had bouts of depression and have been diagnosed with PTSD.
    These are the main reasons I don’t own firearms. I have too much to live for.

    Reply
  31. Robyn - September 14, 2021 12:38 pm

    Thank you Sean for writing your column today. It took courage, and we are all better for it. I ❤️ You & give Jamie a big hug.

    Reply
  32. Debbie g - September 14, 2021 12:40 pm

    Thr all of pain in our life hopefully we can use it to help others as you do love you Sean. Thanks so much for helping And love to all ❤️❤️

    Reply
  33. Brenda DAVIS - September 14, 2021 12:52 pm

    Every word you say is so true ! I’ve witnessed it any times ! And it does make you question your own sanity. Prayers that God will take that imagine away and replace it with the happiness of the birthday party ! God bless you !

    Reply
  34. Nancy Crews - September 14, 2021 12:56 pm

    ❤your writing. Help was needed and help was gotten. Thank you.

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  35. Kyle Viertel - September 14, 2021 1:01 pm

    Thank you Sean. May your words be anointed.

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  36. dapeek43Debbie - September 14, 2021 1:04 pm

    Praying for you! Mental illness can be so destructive to the person and family…You give so much joy to people everyday. I hope you feel the love today, Sean.
    Debbie

    Reply
  37. Rhonda - September 14, 2021 1:07 pm

    A BIG HUG to you Sean! I am so proud of you! Not only did you survive something so very HARD but you allowed the Lord to use your life to do so much GOOD! You didn’t let it defeat you! You overcame it and went on to live a fruitful life! Way to go my Friend!! Another HUG for ya!

    Reply
  38. bloominglifewriter - September 14, 2021 1:10 pm

    Thank you for the courage to write this painful story. If you have averted just one death today by taking the risk to write about this subject, often kept hidden, then maybe some unknown family will be forever in your debt.
    It has taken me many years and I have been the recipient of deep, constant love to finally see my father’s early death as the tragedy that it was. I have siblings who still rage with anger and I pray they will find peace.

    Reply
  39. whatscookingintheville - September 14, 2021 1:15 pm

    I am so sorry for the loss of your father! Your gift for writing touches my life everyday, today is no exception! Too many people see “the disease” as a weakness, when it is in fact a disease that no one choses! Prayers for you and your family on this difficult day!

    Reply
  40. Roxanne - September 14, 2021 1:24 pm

    Thank you for your openness. I’ve watched it happen and I’ve lived in that illness. I’ve pulled the trigger – though the gun that has never misfired since, didn’t fire. I still have those bad nights where my thoughts are dark, but I’ve learned to respond to those thoughts with the memory of being 15 and learning that my grandfather, also a good man who loved God and loved his family, pulled the trigger on his back porch; by imagining my children, well, now just my son since my daughter’s murder 9yrs ago – feeling the betrayal, anger, confusion, heartbreak and loss… imagining planting that tiny seed in him, just like my grandfather planted in me, that this is an optional way out of pain. And then I pray and try to sleep through the pain of this illness until it subsides enough for me to go on.

    Reply
  41. Leslie in NC - September 14, 2021 1:26 pm

    Much love to you, Sean and I hope you can somehow find some peace and comfort in this day of painful memory. Hold Jamie and your pups close today & feel their love.

    Reply
  42. Karla Meier - September 14, 2021 1:35 pm

    Here is knowing that today your Dad left a message thru your writing – ((HUGS))!

    Reply
  43. Shelton A. - September 14, 2021 1:36 pm

    God’s comfort and peace to you Sean. I fight the demons every day. Medication and what I learned it counseling helps. That, and my kids and grandkids (and my special needs dog).

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  44. Theresa - September 14, 2021 1:41 pm

    So very sorry Sean….. sorry for your pain….

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  45. Cat - September 14, 2021 1:57 pm

    My daddy’s anniversary date is 10/28/1967..I was twelve years old..I always think about how my life would have been if he hadn’t done it..love to you Sean.

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  46. Stacey Wallace - September 14, 2021 1:57 pm

    Sean, praying for you, especially today. Thank you for talking about depression so that someone may go get help.

    Reply
  47. Don Gardner, Jr - September 14, 2021 2:00 pm

    Sean, I really appreciate these column on mental illness because I have a friend who I suspect that has depression, but he says he doesn’t. Still there are so many issues in his life that seem to indicate otherwise. Reading your articles helps me increase my awareness of mental health issues. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    • Susie - September 14, 2021 2:15 pm

      Don, PLEASE share this story of Sean’s with your friend, along with all the comments it has inspired. Perhaps he will recognize himself in some of this and get help?? A breakthru in his denial, perhaps?? Try anything. Good luck, Don. This is hard on YOU!

      Reply
  48. Ruth Mitchell - September 14, 2021 2:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing. Perhaps some person who really needs to know this read it today and will seek help. Mental illness is the saddest illness in the world and the most misunderstood. It’s a true blessing for you that you can recognize your dad as the real person he was and know what happened really was out of his control at that moment.

    Reply
  49. Carol - September 14, 2021 2:25 pm

    My mom suffered (and often so did we) from depression. It is definitely real and God answered my many prayers that I would not suffer from it but the only way the prayers for her to be cured were answered the day she went to heaven at 90 years of age. Not from suicide but from cancer. It is a difficult disease.

    Reply
  50. peggybilbro - September 14, 2021 2:55 pm

    May the light shine on you and in you Sean. You are not alone

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  51. Glenda Busby-Fowler Hinkle - September 14, 2021 2:58 pm

    Sean, your sadness and grief is felt by this reader. Your Dad’s illness, THANK GOD, was not passed on to his son. I am certain that your Dad’s death and God put this wonderful gift of expressing yourself through your writings is sent to you by your Dad to help you help other’s cope with the grief of suicide. If there is a blessing here, this is it. You have been commissioned to help other’s deal with this special kind of grief. GOD BLESS you in your journey.

    Reply
  52. Diann - September 14, 2021 3:01 pm

    What a wonderful post- and so true. You see, I also am a child of someone who suffered from that awful disease. My mother was a sweet, loving , kind, generous, God-fearing woman but when depression took over we just had to believe she was in there somewhere and that she would come back to us. I won’t go into details because they are too painful and besides, you’ve already been there. While she didn’t take her own life, depression riddled her body physically through self abuse and poor nutrition and eventually won that way. God bless you Sean!

    Reply
  53. charlynecox - September 14, 2021 3:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing the darkness of your pain so others can see the light and get help. Love and prayers for comfort. He loved you.

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  54. Tom Wallin - September 14, 2021 3:08 pm

    Sean, thanks for sharing your personal pain and nightmare you family endured. I hope your words will be heard by many who need that push to get help before it is too late. We love you and your family, especially today.

    Reply
  55. Sandra Weekley - September 14, 2021 3:10 pm

    I love you! Thank for sharing your heart! Depression is as bad as cancer! You put it perfectly on paper! You never know what’s going on in a person mind! Maybe we need counseling in grade school, true counseling, someone who will really listen and be sensitive to our needs. I think I may have been depressed all my life, especially as a child—I had a sadness. As an adult when I lost both my parents two months apart it was very bad. Thankful I got help and help from the good Lord. Thank you for your heart felt words! Sandra W.

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  56. Mim - September 14, 2021 3:10 pm

    Thanks, Sean. My best help came from Suicide Anonymous/ the little book. I don’t know who wrote it but i found a free copy years ago. I still go through the twelve steps sometimes. It’s not that I was so suicidal but I liked the idea that I could control my situation and end it if I needed too. Now I rest in the knowledge that my times are in His Hands.
    Love to you and your wife as you miss those on the Other Side.

    Reply
  57. Cheryl McWilliams - September 14, 2021 3:18 pm

    God bless you, Sean. I can’t even imagine having this in my memory for life. From what you say, he was a good man and that is what he passed to you.

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  58. Brenda - September 14, 2021 3:23 pm

    Sean, I am so sad for you. My 23 y/o beautiful and sweet son took his life with a handgun in February 1995. He was in therapy and taking medications for Bi-Polar depression. He did everything the doctors told him to do and became an expert on Bi-Polar mental illness. He was a senior in college and very bright. I was a Psychiatric Nurse and we all talked about the illness and the family was very open and knowledgeable about his issues. The disease was more powerful !! It is not a ” permanent solution to a temporary problem ” as so many people told me. They live with the problem every second of every day even if they hide the symptoms . Your worst day does not equal their best day when the disease is in charge. Just to get out of bed, brush their teeth, dress and eat breakfast requires monumental effort. I saw this every day in my son and my patients. They fight hopelessness and despair constantly. Peace,LoveJoy

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  59. Mm - September 14, 2021 3:47 pm

    I’m proud to “know” you, Sean of the South. Any parent would be proud to claim you. Thank you.

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  60. Pam - September 14, 2021 3:51 pm

    🙏🏻🙏🏻😢👆🏻

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  61. Barbara McCormack - September 14, 2021 4:17 pm

    I am so sorry you have had to live with this all these years and will for the rest of your life. I am so sorry that your dad struggled with this disease and couldn’t find a way to make it better. It makes me sad that there is a stigma attached to mental illness and people think they are weak if they suffer, especially men I believe. If this story helps even I person today then it’s a win. Thanks so much!! ❤️

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  62. Patricia Schwindt - September 14, 2021 4:21 pm

    Amen. Yes. Thank you.

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  63. Vicki - September 14, 2021 4:31 pm

    I’m so very sorry this happened to your family. I have no doubt your dad was a great human being. Mental illness is so scary to me, because it can seem to come out of nowhere and be easily overlooked, like you said, because people who suffer have ways of covering it up. It’s so hard to understand and I find myself wondering if it will happen to me or someone close it me out of the blue. I do know people it has happened to, even some who were trying to get help. Prayers for you today. I know that had to be hard to write and I thank you for your courage to share something so difficult.🙏🏼❤️🙏🏼

    Reply
  64. AlaRedClayGirl - September 14, 2021 4:37 pm

    How timely this column is. Just last week the 16-year-old daughter of someone I know committed suicide. The pain is indescribable for those left behind, as you well know. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Maybe it will help someone seek the help that they so desperately need.

    Reply
  65. Cynthia J Hardy - September 14, 2021 5:03 pm

    Sean thank you for sharing your story and your pain. Hugs and prayers on this angelversary. Our oldest son died by suicide April 2020. Grief doesn’t go away, it just gets easier to handle.

    Reply
  66. Christina - September 14, 2021 5:27 pm

    To the kid and his frightened sister, i’m so sorry.
    To the man missing his dad, hope you feel comfort in remembering his kindness and laughter. Also, now we know where you got your practical jokes from. Sending you love on this tender day.

    Reply
  67. Jan - September 14, 2021 6:02 pm

    Thank you for being willing to share your story. There are so many people in pain today … almost every family is touched in some way by the crippling diseases of depression and anxiety. Much love to you and your family on this difficult day.

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  68. Sandra Wolfe - September 14, 2021 6:44 pm

    God bless you Sean for sharing this. It was a selfless thing to do. We all have stories we could share but we don’t. So thank you. I feel sure you helped someone today.

    Sandy

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  69. Norma Den🇿🇦 - September 14, 2021 6:49 pm

    In 1988 after a bad attack of flu followed by severe reaction to medication, my Dad died suddenly at 78. The whole thing came to a head then, suppressed grief from my Moms death 8 years before at 64, added to all the previously mentioned caused me to go into panic attacks and anxiety, ending in being on up to 14 pills a day. 5 years passed on pills and a total feeling of flatline. I weaned myself off the meds, dealt with it with the help of friends and the Love of God. It’s raised it’s head again lately with my husband with Alzheimer’s and myself struggling to cope, albeit with a lot of help. I’m back on some medication after seeing a very understanding psychiatrist, much support from friends and family but still a long row to hoe. However even if suicide crossed my mind briefly I admit to being too darned scared to try. God is great, a very present help in times of trouble and indeed always. Thanks for sharing. Remember everything with love. Many share your story and grief.

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  70. Rhonda - September 14, 2021 6:59 pm

    Be especially aware when things that use to bring you joy don’t anymore. Time to pay attention
    Bless us all

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  71. Linda Moon - September 14, 2021 7:18 pm

    I understand your goal in retelling this story. The statistics of 132 suicides every day is heartbreaking. I’ve known too many who chose to do it …six beautiful souls, four of whom were fathers. I try to imagine how much you miss your father, kid, as tears are falling for you and those others I’ve known and loved who left us. On this anniversary today, thanks be to God that John Dietrich gave us you.

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  72. Fran E Jackson - September 14, 2021 8:00 pm

    My heart is with you today.

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  73. Bill Henderson - September 14, 2021 8:34 pm

    This article hurts to read. I am so, so sorry.

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  74. Ingrid Whigham - September 14, 2021 10:13 pm

    Thanks for using your sadness to reach out to others. Prayers for you and your family.

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  75. Mandy - September 14, 2021 11:23 pm

    We all L❤️VE you Sean!!!!

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  76. Heidi Thompson - September 14, 2021 11:30 pm

    Thank you.

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  77. Suellen - September 14, 2021 11:51 pm

    Just passed the 9 year anniversary of my nephew taking his own life. My brother’s only son. I just wish he had called someone.

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  78. Thelma - September 14, 2021 11:59 pm

    Sending Hugs to You Sean🤗🙏🤗

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  79. Dianne - September 15, 2021 12:05 am

    Thank you, Sean. God bless you for shining a light on this!

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  80. Liz - September 15, 2021 12:11 am

    My significant other is in the hospital for the 3rd time since April, 3 suicide attempts, the doctors wouldn’t listen. Finally we have a doctor who said I nailed it on the head 4 years ago. 4 years of suffering do to doctors who wouldn’t listen. It’s like any disease, it’s just in your brain. There is no shame in that.

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  81. Bkr - September 15, 2021 1:51 am

    You are so good to write this. Had to be difficult but so thankful you wrote it. Take care

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  82. Laura McAliley - September 15, 2021 3:23 am

    Hi, Sean… I’m a 63 y/o kid who has gone back to graduate school to become a clinical mental health counselor, to try to help families just like yours and mine and others I know. I may not be able to help as long as I’d like due to my advancing age, but I’m going to graduate next year and do it for as long as I possibly can. I figure if I can save one or two people even, then I will have made a ripple in the pond just like I did with a rock when I was a younger kid at my Grandpa’s farm. There are all kinds of naysayers out there (“you’re too old, blah, blah, blah”), but I’m not ready to retire – and I wasn’t doing much of anything anymore, anyway.

    I’m an Alabama girl from Sylacauga, and my family lives in Birmingham – so one day, I expect I’ll mosey on back there and work my mental health wiles in a state that desperately needs some help setting itself right again. I won’t be able to see it, probably – but I can set it in motion. Margaret Mead once said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” I’m fixin’ to see if that’s right!

    Take care, my young sage. Your writing and pouring out your heart is not wasted; I am grateful for you.

    Reply
    • Susie - September 15, 2021 6:57 pm

      Kudos and good luck to you, Laura!! We need more people like you.

      Reply
  83. Lauren Lopez - September 15, 2021 3:35 am

    Prayers for love, comfort, strength, and hope for every hurting heart and mind. Thankful for you Sean.

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  84. Melanie - September 15, 2021 5:11 am

    ❤️

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  85. Shirley Jensen - September 15, 2021 11:15 am

    I’m so sorry Sean. My brother committed suicide when he was 21 in 1989. It changes our world forever. Prayers for you today.

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  86. Laura W - September 15, 2021 5:57 pm

    I have to forward this to my best friend of almost 60 years who suffers from bipolar depression. She lost her husband back on January 30th and she hasn’t returned any of my communications since, no phone calls, no e-mails, no text messages. I fear for her mental health and wish there was more I could do than just continuing to send her messages of support and love.

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  87. Cyn - September 16, 2021 1:04 pm

    Much needed post. I know it will help at least one person and that will reverberate to others.

    Reply
  88. Gayle Wilson - September 16, 2021 6:03 pm

    Sean, God bless you for taking a horrible situation that is unfathomable for many and using it to hopefully reach one soul who is struggling, or one family who knows they have a loved one that is struggling, or a friend who has a friend that is struggling. The invisible disease that even as advanced as we think our society is, people still don’t want to talk about it. Thank you for talking about it. You are a good man Sean Dietrich

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  89. Friend - September 18, 2021 3:29 am

    ❤️ love to you, your words and bravery.

    Reply
  90. Linda Hill - September 19, 2021 12:54 pm

    October 31, 1984 is when it happened to us. We were separated because of the violence & alcohol. He was a Green Beret, Yale Graduate who’d volunteered to enlist in the Army right after he’d graduated. Went through all the training & was sent to Vietnam. Led an A team. Was in the mountains & loved the Montagnards. He held a small boy who died in his arms. He wasn’t tough enough but he didn’t let anyone know. He buried it deep in his brain but it sneaked out at night & tortured his sleep. There’s a lot more but let me just say, it’s why I bought your book, Will the Circle be Unbroken. For my sons, for me. We’ve learned to survive but nothing is ever complete. The empty hole is there & cannot be filled. If it were possible to stop anyone from this dastardly fatal act – I’d do it. But most often, we don’t know. Watch for the clues. Be vigilant, be proactive, and pray – a lot.

    Reply
  91. Peggy - September 19, 2021 2:59 pm

    I am a newcomer to this group and didn’t know about Sean’s book. Thank you for mentioning it. I’ll be getting one. To Linda Hill, exactly, there is an empty hole that cannot be filled.

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  92. Ed - September 25, 2021 2:56 am

    Today a wave washed over me. It bore shame and regret and the darkness. I wept. My chest was tight. But she put her arms around me and said, “You’re not the man you were. You’re better now.” Now I remember the depths. I remember holding a gun to my head because the pain was too great too bear. But I had kids and she was deployed to Saudi so I had to just putting one foot in front of the other. With the help a gifted therapist and the people in the rooms I made progress. I got better. I am better.

    Reply

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