Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Suicide, Challenges & Strengths

The unit replacing us has arrived. One of their soldiers committed suicide. He shot himself. I can't imagine suffering such emotional pain and fear that suicide would seem like the best option, yet I have known literally dozens of people who have attempted suicide or have said they would rather die than go on. I wish that I could speak to each of them and help them.

Once, in a law enforcement capacity, I helped a man not jump to his death. I've witnessed others having their stomachs pumped from overdosing. One woman cut her wrists with scissors. There were several 'hesitation marks' and a few deep gouges. I spoke with her for a while before the doctor sewed her up. She really needed professional help. Dr. Kevorkian, maybe.

Please forgive my dark cop humor, but a little bit of humor can be found in just about anything. If we didn't laugh, we'd be miserable, crying all the time.

One of my best friends shot and killed himself when we were in high school. We had played soccer together since we were six years old. We played football together, went pheasant hunting and snow skiing together. We exchanged Christmas gifts and just 'hung out' together. We even skipped school once or twice when the summer weather was too nice to stay indoors.

It tore me up when I got the news that he took his life. I remember it like it happened yesterday. I wept uncontrollably. I even felt guilty because he asked me to go golfing with him the week before, but I didn't. I didn't suspect a thing. Maybe I could have stopped him -- that's the way I felt. It crushed me.

A couple of years after my friend's death, I learned more about suicide and depression rates in America. It shocked me to learn that 1 in 4 people are depressed. I formulated a plan at that time to help others find happiness and I talked about it at every chance I had. My hope was to help others find happiness.

Speaking of depression, there's a big difference between a challenge and a way of life. This year has been a challenge. But I'm a much better man for having faced it. I feel very fortunate for experiencing everything I have. I now have an even greater capacity to empathize and be patient with others. I have a greater capacity to love, and a deeper desire to help others find joy and peace in their lives.

When viewed with the right attitude, our challenges become our strengths. I can think of a few people who are incredibly strong, can't you?

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