“It Can’t Happen to Me or My Loved Ones.” | September 2023

Chairman Steve Conway has done a great job of framing “Suicide Prevention Month”. While I typically choose a different topic than the Chairman, I believe suicide prevention can be extremely important and personal. Therefore, this month I will share an individual’s personal dealing with suicide.

As a young teenager this individual was aware that his father was dealing with some depression. During that time, it was not a subject that was discussed, and heaven forbid anyone outside the family knew. The family doctor would prescribe some anti-depressants and life would go on.

Fast forward a few years.

The, now 19-year-old was home for winter break. Having had breakfast with his father and seeing him off to work the young man went about his daily routine. About mid-morning the young man answered the phone only to hear his father’s boss ask, “is your father not coming to work today?” His answer was that his father had left a couple of hours ago. Thoughts of confusion and concern quickly overcame this young man. Was he in an accident? Where was he?

Knowing his father’s past with depression, the young man went in search of his father’s medication, only to find a completely empty pill bottle. Where was he and what had he done? A call was made to the State Police describing what had been found. While not a lot to go on, the police did circulate information on the father and his car. Several hours passed when the anxiously awaited phone call came. The State Police had found the father unconscious on State game lands where the father had hunted as a young man.

Most stories like this end tragically for the family. Fortunately, the father was found in time to save his life. After a week in intensive care and several months of inpatient treatment, the father was cleared to go home. He was diagnosed as bipolar and put on properly monitored medication as well as continuing outpatient therapy. As a result, his last 40 years were some of his happiest and most productive years.

While this story ended well, too often they end in family devastation. We need to be more cognizant of those around us as well as our own mental health. As humans we tend to want to hide our emotions and feelings. The resources Steve lists in his article are a great place to start. Let’s all make a conscious effort to make mental health a part of our total health commitment.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)