My family received some horrific news yesterday. My sweet cousin Gary, a man most of us thought to be the happiest of happy-go-lucky men, took his own life at the age of 49. He accomplished so much in life, both professionally and in the number of lives he touched by sharing his beautiful heart.
Gary was a hero, literally. First as a paramedic, then as a rescue diver, as a member of the Air National Guard, and on through his career as a fireman, where he worked his way to the rank of captain, Gary saved lives. He loved what he did and the people with whom he worked. He loved his family, too–his wife and two daughters, his mother and brothers, and all the rest of us aunts and uncles and cousins and nieces and nephews.
And he was loved in return. Hundreds and hundreds of people have posted to his facebook page in the past 24 hours–generous outpourings of love and shock and profound grief.
And, of course, the unspoken/unwritten question: What did we miss?
I don’t know if we’ll ever have the answer. I don’t even know if there IS an answer (personally, I suspect a certain sleep medication that has been proven to cause altered personalities and thought pattern disturbances), but I do know that there are others out there struggling and suffering, people who feel hopeless or helpless or angry or trapped or worthless, and who see only one solution to their misery.
If you’re one of those people, please know two things:
1) As long as you have life, you have hope. Hold onto that with everything you have…
2) And call this phone number: 1-800-273-TALK, which is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. There are people who can help you learn to deal with your pain. (You can also call this number if you know someone who may be in crisis.)
No doubt about it, life hurts sometimes. If it’s hurting so much that you’re feeling overwhelmed by it, please reach out for help. Gary’s family and friends are certainly wishing he had done so. He might have found a way to save himself.