Suicide is an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but it’s too real to ignore. In 2014, there were just under 43,000 suicide deaths in the United States (source), with approximately 8,000 by our military veterans (VA). Think it can’t happen to someone you love? Here are four gut-wrenching stories of loss and love, along with resources to help.
These are real stories from real people, and kept anonymous. They are written from the heart and received minimal editing.
Story #1 – A Mother’s Grief
The suicide of my daughter-in-law nine months ago devastated my son and our family. A few weeks before she took her own life, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving day and she seemed so happy and content. Unbeknownst to us, she suffered from depression and was under treatment. When it happened, my son was inconsolable and incoherent at times! I automatically went into mom mode — consoling him, comforting him, and caring for him, from initially taking him into my arms to taking him home with us and having him live with his father, brother and me until he was strong enough emotionally to return to his home. I must admit, I kept my emotions in check because I needed to be strong to see him through the aftermath of this tragedy. I had to make sure my son was eating, sleeping and coping, but mostly I was just watching over him.
During the days that followed my feelings would range from anger (how could she do this to herself and to my son), to guilt (maybe I could have even tried harder to be closer to her and how did I not recognize she was struggling). But she had hidden it well. My emotions finally let loose very late one night. I cried and cried for her and for my son for over an hour. It was an emotional release that I needed in order to continue to go on and accept it. I still have thoughts of how she spent her last day, alone at home, planning to end her life, while going through their home, cleaning, putting everything in its place. I wonder if she was afraid of what she was going to do or was she anticipating release of her pain. I think of her being so alone as she made her final plans and for her the only choice for her life. I still wonder what happened that day or just prior to that day that was so dramatic or devastating to make her feel that ending her life was her only answer. Faith is very important to us, knowing that she is with God and free of pain and torment. Prayers for our family and by our family helped us all cope with her death.
After all of these months, I think of her everyday and still do not fully understand her choice. However, after reading articles and several books from my pastor and a friend, I’ve realized that all the feelings I’ve gone through and continue to go through are normal. I am so blessed that my son is healing and moving ahead with his life though there is still a hole in his heart as in mine.
Story #2 – A Family’s Battle
Depression has run rapid throughout my family. My parents divorced when I was two years old, and both of them remarried SEVERAL times (4xs EACH) throughout my growing up years. My Dad had a son with his second wife who was my half-brother. My half-brother lived with my Dad in Ohio while I grew up in SC with my Mom.
My father was diagnosed with bipolar depression when I was a little girl. My brother had to deal with my Dad’s mood swings and my Dad’s constant struggle to keep his emotions in check. In turn, he also found out that he suffered from depression too. Both my Dad and my brother became dependent on different drugs to help them function in the real world.
My brother became a drug and alcoholic addict. He tried to go through several different recovery systems, but none of them worked. This past July, he committed suicide because he could no longer continue to fight his emotional battle.
Now that my brother is gone, I wonder if my Dad is going to be next in line to commit suicide. My Dad’s bipolar depression has cost us a close-knit relationship because when he’s fighting depression he fears to talk with me or anyone else who KNOWS him well because he doesn’t want to “bring us down.”
Lucky for me I grew up with my Mom. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have to deal with the depression monster. My mom and I both struggled with our own battles with depression. However, we had equine therapy to help us. Yet, there were times when that still wasn’t enough for us to keep our depression at bay. When I was a teenager, I found a suicide note written by my mom hidden in her room. Luckily, she didn’t commit suicide while I was living with her. When she got cancer, though, she told me practically the exact moment and day she was going to die so I will always believe she scheduled her own death.
I personally had a serious case of depression in 1999 because the horse I raised and trained became seriously sick while I was away to college. It caused me to tailwind into a downward spiral drastically. I almost took my own life. I didn’t because a college professor saw the signs and made it to where the college counselor got a hold of me before it was too late. I got hit with postpardum depression after my first born was born and I didn’t even know what it was. It was so bad that I couldn’t EVER get attached to my first born child up until her father took over full custody of her when she was seven years old. He used my depression against me in the custody battle and the courts let him! Now, I fear talking about my depression issues out loud because I don’t want to lose my three kids I have now.
Depression is a terrible thing to deal with. It affects work habits and even parenting issues. At the same time though, it is NOT something a person can FULLY control on their own. It requires medication and routines that help a person to function and deal with these all consuming emotions. I think we need to help people who suffer with level of depression to find ways to thrive and cope with it in a more independent manner. Unfortunately, that system hasn’t been found yet, but it’s not due to lack of effort from many people.
Story #3 – A Personal Epiphany
I was young when I developed depression. I’m not quite sure what would make me feel that way, but I had no desire to live. You might think that sounds crazy. After all, what could a ten year old possibly be sad about? Truth is, I didn’t know, either. All I knew was that life did not seem worth living to me. I had fantasized about death, staring at knives for hours, wondering if I could even do it without it being painful. I would also fantasize about my own funeral, my own death, and my family, crying, missing me, wondering what I had done, and wishing they could have done something for me.
Although I thought about suicide often, the thought of living was just as strong. I managed to get through the next few years, visiting psychologists and psychatrists, who never were able to really diagnose me with anything, but they did prescribe countless of different anti-depression and anti-anxiety drugs throughout high school. I turned into a zombie. No emotions. No desires.
One day, I had an epiphany, and towards the end of my senior year, I quit all the prescription drugs I was on, cold turkey. I became more aware of my surroundings, my situations, and my own feelings. My depression and suicidal thoughts became less and less, and I had wanted to keep living.
Depression will always be there — from time to time — I still get depressed, sad, upset, and I ask myself, “Why do I keep going?” and I’m sure many people get that voice. We all have those kinds of feelings, but eventually, you pull yourself out of it and try to do your best to remain positive. That is really all you can do. I have learned, from other people, from losing people who were close to me, that suicide is always just a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Suicide solves nothing and only causes those who love you the most the most pain. I now get why they say, “suicide is selfish.” It really is. Someone who takes their own life is not thinking about anyone else but themselves.
Suicide is never the answer. Life is amazing. Appreciate this life. Every life is a unique. Every life is different. But every life has a purpose. Discover your soul’s mission in this life — we all have a mission and we are all here for a reason! You are the only one who knows their mission on this Earth and you are the only one who knows how to live your specific life.
I beg of all of you-anyone thinking of suicide: please get help immediately. If you are thinking about suicide, please don’t do it. Call someone for help. No matter your situation, life will keep going on, and it will not always remain the way it is. Life is constantly changing. Life does get better, but you have to hold on, be brave, and have the courage to get through your current situation and just keep living life. Even if life isn’t always going well, learn to love your life and teach other people how to love their life.
Story #4 – Hope After Suicide
After her mother took her own life, Wendy Parmley learned firsthand the heartache, despair, and loneliness that accompanies losing a loved one to suicide. At one point she even contemplated taking her own life as well.
Twelve-year-old Wendy’s mom took her life when just 31 years old, leaving behind her husband of thirteen years and their five young children. Wendy has long advocated for suicide prevention and volunteers with Hope4Utah and The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). Wendy also recognizes the need to unashamedly support those who must continue to live in the painful aftermath of a loved one’s suicide and passionately lends her voice to that cause. Wendy was a favorite speaker at the 2014 Salt Lake City National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) annual conference, the Chainbreaker Foundation, and at Weber State University’s 2015 Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walk.
Wendy’s heart-felt story leaves the audience filled with an abundance of love, understanding, and hope as she shares her own journey from heartbreak to hope and, finally, to healing. Hope after Suicide has been endorsed by Hope4Utah’s executive director, Dr. Gregory Hudnall. It is also listed on AFSP’s list of resources and has received a positive review from the American Association of Suicidology. Hope after Suicide was named a finalist in Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB 2014 Book of the Year Award. Wendy was invited to represent her work as a panelist at the 2015 Virginia Festival of the Book. Prior to a bicycle accident and traumatic brain injury, Wendy worked in nursing leadership for 14 years, earning her nursing degree from Utah Valley University in 1991. Wendy graduated with her MBA from Brigham Young University in 2007 and was honored to be the convocation speaker. Wendy and her husband, Mark, have three sons and daughters-in-law, one daughter, and two beautiful grandchildren who fill her life with sunshine.
- Forgive yourself and others
- Open your heart
- Seek help when you need it
- Draw closer to the divine
Embrace the light and learn how to heal your soul and overcome loss as you read this touching and tender account of a woman opening her heart years after her mother’s suicide.
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