This weekend, I was reminded again that this life is precious.
We go through struggles and trials and there are times when we all question if it is worth it. Loved ones are diagnosed with illness, jobs change and/are lost, and dreams may not come true. Yet, for most of us, we push on through the pain.
Tough times don’t last. At least that is one of the cliches we say to ourselves.
Saturday morning, my next door neighbor was found on his front porch. A car driving by stopped a neighbor and stated it appeared he had passed out. When she told her husband, he went to check and discovered that he had shot himself.
We had a suicide next door. On the front porch. In our neighborhood.
I have no right to share information about him and truth be told, I knew little as he was deployed when we completed our house build and he limited his interaction when he returned. I liked his wife and got to know her and was shocked when she quickly moved out with the children after his return. A divorce followed and our neighbor went back to the Middle East for contract work.
After living next door to him for four years, I only recently had the opportunity to speak to him as he normally would not make eye contact. James had more interactions but only slightly. We tried to be friendly. However, garages and fences create barriers that can make it easy not to cross.
One never knows what is going on next door, or down the street or around the block. Suicides occur in million dollar mansions and rented hotel rooms. My neighborhood of bankers, physicians, television reporters and business owners is no different. I mentioned a few weeks ago that when it comes to mental illness and other struggles we like to think it happens to someone else but we are those people.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Every 12.8 minutes someone dies by suicide. When it comes to military veterans (which my neighbor was), there are more than 22 suicides a day or one every 65 minutes. Some reports feel that number could be greater for veterans because deaths may not be reported as suicide when they were.
I do not know my neighbor’s issues. From across the fence I could assess that there was probably something going on as he limited contact with neighbors, had little visitors that I knew of and only sometimes had his young children. He mostly kept his blinds closed. I can’t assess someone from sight only but I questioned PTSD in regards to his actions.
I am sad this has occurred but am also aware there was little I could do. One can not go up to a stranger and state “You look depressed. Are you getting help?” or “Are you seeing a counselor at the VA?” I remind myself we did make attempts to know him and he pulled away.
As a counselor, I am aware of the road his family must travel. Grief over a suicide is complicated simply in regards to the manner of the death. There will be questions that may never be answered for them. I pray for his two young children and his ex-wife who will need to somehow try to make sense of an act that can not be explained.
Someone who chooses suicide is not in their healthy mind. I have often reminded family members of this fact. Sadly, that person is in a place where they can not see hope. The pain of the moment is so extreme all they can hope for is for it to be over. I believe that is where my neighbor was at on Saturday morning. He simply wanted whatever his pain was to be over and gone. I pray he is at peace.
Depression and other types of mental illness happens to males and females of all ages. It can be masked as stress and sadly sometimes thought of as the norm after a length of time. Mental illness is no different than any other illness in the body. Just as a broken bone may be treated with medication and therapy, depression can be treated with medication and counseling. Please review this list of signs of depression if you are concerned for yourself or someone you love. There is hope.
This life is precious. Take care of yourself and love your loved ones!
Linking up with Emily because I am grateful for this life I’ve been given.