I’m a day late with my Suicide Prevention Day post. Yesterday was my one year wedding anniversary, and as much as I believe in destigmatizing suicide, I focussed yesterday on my wife, and our union. I’ve written this next post hoping it may help someone in need, or families who’ve lived through a similar tragedy.
On April 9, 1996, my father committed suicide by wrapping a belt around his neck, and hanging himself in a closet. My father was a sad man, a dark and tortured soul. Years of untreated depression, an unhappy marriage and misaligned therapy cornered his suffering like a wounded animal, and when his union to my mother ended, so did his life.
A few years later, I received a phone call from an aunt – a cousin had taken his own life by driving his car off a bridge, and into a river. A letter was found: “Thank you uncle, for giving me the courage to do what I needed to do”, or something like that. My father’s suicide, an inspiration… I felt sorry for his young soul and his family, and ashamed of my father.
I was 26 – and a drug addict and alcoholic – when my father died. My childhood was not a pleasant one – we lived in poverty, and food and clothing were often donations from charities. I was a happy young man, nonetheless. If nothing could have prepared me for the pain the news of my father’s suicide brought upon me, nothing could have prepared me for the gamut of emotions the next few years was going to grant me: confusion, sadness, anger, shame… suppressed by excessive drinking and cocaine. It would take 16 years to gather the courage to visit my father’s urn, and to understand that:
- It wasn’t my mother’s fault – she left an abusive marriage. I’m sorry for making you accountable, mom;
- I can’t blame the Catholic Church – my father’s Faith was his solace;
- I am not responsible – meeting my father for a coffee the night before his untimely death wouldn’t have saved him from his inner demons.
My sole regret now, is not finding compassion again sooner after my father’s death. Compassion for my mother who drowned herself in her sorrow, for my guilt ridden self, and for my loving, off-beat dad who deserved a good, happy life.
Be kind. “Cultivate compassion“.
POST SCRIPTUM: If you’re having dark thoughts, extreme sadness, or even if the vaguest thought of ending your life is floating around, please tell someone. Anyone. Give yourself a chance, even if reaching out seems impossible. Related articles: