By a show of hands, how many of you knew someone who took their own life. Not someone you read or heard about. I mean someone personally. Someone you were buds with. Someone you were close to. Someone who after it happened, you actually said to yourself. “I could have stopped them from doing that?”
I say that because I know of 2 people personally who have taken their own lives and there isn’t a day that goes by that they do not enter my mind, and immediately I think, what could I have done?
The first person was a neighbor to my mom. He and his wife were in their mid 50’s and he had taken early retirement from the govt. Granted this was 1994 or so. I was always helping them with something. Once he bought a playground set for his grandkids and needed help picking it up and putting it together. That was a fun couple of weeks and a couple of hammered fingernails. Another time he was rebuilding his deck. Then there was the cookout on Labor Day when they invited mom, sister and my self over. Got to meet their 2 kids, watch the grandkids on the playground and I even learned a couple of grilling secrets from him. That winter I would shovel his driveway for him if it needed it. Even watched their dog when they went to visit their kids at Christmas. Come the next spring, I noticed he had parked his truck at an odd angle in this driveway and had covered the windows of his truck. I asked mom what he was doing and she thought maybe he was going to repaint his truck. I went over, knocked on the front door of the house but there was no answer. Not thinking anything of it, I made a mental note to check back the next day. As I crossed his yard, I walked within 20 feet of his truck and noticed that something didn’t seem right. The next day, mom called me to tell me the coroner, police and firemen were at his house. Seems what he did was run a hose from his exhaust to his window which was opposite of the road and houses, got in his truck and started the motor. He let the truck run killing himself until the truck ran out of gas. His wife said he sat in the truck for 2 days until she returned from a trip with a friend. And to think, I walked within 20 feet of him.
The second person I knew was a brief co-worker. I had known him for about a year when he came to work with the company I work for. However, due to some legality issues with a non-compete, his stay was short. But we stayed in touch. Played some golf. Drank a lot of beer. Even gave each other shit over our favorite sports teams. The last I spoke with him, he was telling me about this girl that he was crazy about. He was going to ask her to marry him. Already had the ring. They were going out the next night and he was going to pop the question. We had made plans to celebrate and I had mentioned a Vegas trip for the bachelor party. A couple of days later he called me saying she said no and she left his ass. He was very upset about this. Was actually even crying. Talking to him for the next couple of hours, the thought entered my head a couple of times wondering if he would try to end his life. When I hung up the phone, he seemed to be calming down and was even talking of still going to Vegas to blow off some steam. Two days later, I got an email from some chic and she mentioned in a round about way if anyone had pictures of him that she could use to make a collage for his parents. She had sent it from her work email, so in her signature was her cell. I immediately called her and when I told her who I was, she started crying and said he isn’t with us anymore. When I asked why, she said he took his own life. At the funeral his parents couldn’t open the casket. Because he put the gun to the side of his head and pulled the trigger. And I failed to ASK him if he was considering ending his life.
I say this because recently I came across a saying that has made me stop and think. I don’t know who wrote it, but it goes as follows.
Every man has his secret sorrows which the world knows not. Often times we call a man cold when he is only sad.
I read that and froze. And in a flash, the lives of these 2 men I knew flashed before my eyes. To someone we have and/or can make a difference in their lives. The next time that situation comes up, will you try to make that difference? I know I will.
I will inflict the pain, but I will kiss away the tears.