Every once in a while you see something or hear something that makes you stop in your tracks. The opposite is also true. You might see a topic that doesn’t seem to be of importance or interest to you at all, but then you hear about it again and it completely immerses you. Such was my experience a couple of weeks ago when I saw Kevin Hines* speak about suicide.
Suicide is something that has touched me personally, yet I have not typically given it much thought. Perhaps it was because the subject of suicide is a societal taboo. Or perhaps it was because for so long I didn’t understand the “whys” as to why someone would take their own life, until I experienced some of those thoughts myself.
My first encounter with anything related to suicide occurred when I was 13. My father had been diagnosed with a very painful form of cancer (multiple myeloma) a couple of years earlier. I had watched him grimace in pain, and wither away to nothing as the days and weeks went by. He was a quiet man, and a very reserved Latino man at that, so he would not discuss how he was feeling with anyone. He suffered in silence. And it was in that silence that he attempted to take his own life.
All I can remember about that day is the little bit of chaos that my mother would let me witness. “Is he going to make it?” was one of the questions I heard. “Should we take him to the hospital?” was another. I don’t actually remember seeing my father in his bedroom. I only remember seeing him in the hospital with tubes inserted in his body, and hearing conversations about the doctors pumping his stomach of its contents. I was 13, and memories can sometimes play tricks on you, but that is what I mainly remember. I also remember being around my dad as much as I could after he came home. I did not want to leave him alone, fearing that he would try to do the same thing again.
My dad never told me why he did what he did. For a long time I was mad at him because I couldn’t reconcile the fact that he loved me, but not enough to try to keep on living. I simply just did not understand his pain. I have since learned that people who take their own lives don’t really want to die. No, they simply want the hurting to stop. We may not understand the hurt, but their pain is very real.
My father died in 1982. I still miss him immensely despite all of the years that have passed, but I am at peace knowing that his pain ended long ago. Now today, October 12, 2016, on what would have been his 93rd birthday, I choose to honor his memory by recognizing that he did love me. He loved me with all that he had. He loved me despite his pain.
Depression is something I will always have to deal with, but thankfully I have not had suicidal thoughts for a very long time. I thank God for that. I thank my friends and family for their love and support. I also need to thank myself for recognizing that self-care is of utmost importance.
My wish is that we reach out to those who are hurting, and that if you are the one hurting that you let somebody know. Do not feel embarrassed, and do not feel weak. Asking for help is one of the bravest things any of us can ever do!
Check out his incredible story at http://www.kevinhinesstory.com/