I try to stay fun and positive as often as possible, but since I do have a forum and the potential to positively affect at least one person reading...
** Disclaimer: This is my own very personal life experience. This post is not intended to give advice in any way, but to give a glimpse into the life of one suicide survivor, me, in the hopes of helping another. If you are struggling in any way, please refer to the links at the bottom of this post or seek professional help. Thank you. **
I was 18 years old when two police officers rang my doorbell at just about 7 am. I was startled by the early wake up. It was a Wednesday morning. I didn't have any classes that day. I was intent to sleep in as I hadn't gotten much sleep the night before. I lived with my dad, and all night long I had feelings of ill ease. I woke several times looking for my dad and wondering why he wasn't home yet.
When I answered the door, the police officers asked me if there was an adult at home. Feeling offended at the age of 18, I got snippy. After all - legally, I was an adult. I stated that I lived with my dad and he hadn't come home last night. Was everything alright? They instead asked if my upstairs neighbors were home. I directed them around back & went back to bed.
Shortly thereafter, Renee came downstairs looking pale and asking me for my mother's phone number. I knew something was wrong, but no one would tell me anything.
Renee left as quickly as she'd arrived. Now I couldn't go back to sleep. I wanted to know what the hell was going on.
Where is my dad? He left here so upset. He and I had an argument over the plumber & the cost to fix the bathroom ceiling. I was trying my best to help, but I was just a kid. I didn't know how to hire a contractor. He seemed unreasonably upset with me. He had been pretty upset for a few months now. I never knew why. I questioned him regarding his behavior - but he was my daddy and I was the kid. I was out of line. I respected that.
The minutes that ticked by before my mother arrived seemed like seconds. The moments that played out after she walked through the door, are etched in my mind forever.
My Aunt behind me, my mother in front of me as she told me, "Jenny - your father is dead."
I can still hear the words echoing in my mind. Swirling around as if I were dizzy and ready to vomit. The anger welled up inside me as I screamed at her, "YOU'RE LYING! You're jealous that I have a better relationship with Daddy than you. GET OUT!" I even remember cocking back to hit her when my aunt grabbed me from behind and hugged me hard. I can remember her very calm, comforting voice in my ear, "Sweetheart, she is telling the truth. I'm so sorry."
No one would give me details. I was a mess. I remember screaming and crying and throwing things. As I relive this now, I am brought to tears.
But there is more.
I knew, instinctively that my dad had taken his own life. I KNEW. I don't know how I knew, I just did. I had seen the gun. Held it in my hands. I had questioned my dad about that gun.
My dad was a "bar guy." He was single & he was to the bar almost every night. He hung out in some pretty rough places, so his excuse of having the gun for protection made perfect sense to me.
After hearing of his death, I regretted not taking it and hiding it as I'd wanted to. I felt somehow responsible. Yet - no one was telling me the truth. No one was telling me anything. I begged. I pleaded. I demanded. Nothing.
Hours later, there it was, in the local section of the newspaper in black & white...
"Man 42 found shot to death in his vehicle. Suicide suspected."
I read the article over and over again. The scenario created itself in my brain and sunk deep into my conscious.
"Man found slumped over the steering wheel with single gunshot wound to the head. Pronounced dead at the scene."
Those words from that article stick in my brain, as does the scenario that played out like a movie in my mind - over and over for years.
Again, I say - as I type this out - I have that feeling in my chest and the lump in my throat that I did so many years ago. It doesn't go away. It gets easier with time, but it never goes away. This pain, this stigma - stays. It's a wound that never heals.
A wound that never heals is vulnerable to rip back opened. Some of us allow for healing. Others keep ripping open the scab just to watch themselves bleed. My brother, Eric, ripped open the scabs. He never healed. He never talked about it. He watched himself bleed. He went about life, until the day that life got too hard for him as well.
I guess it seemed easier for him since that the stigma of suicide was already attached to our family.
The call came in from my baby brother...
"Hey, good to hear your voice. How are you? Is everything OK?"
"No, Jenn - nothing is OK. Nothing is OK at all. Eric is dead."
Again...Another one. Another gun. Another opportunity to take it away for good - lost. I had already taken it away. Several people had. Yet he always managed to convince someone he wasn't going to hurt himself. He was OK and he wanted it back.
Now he was gone too.
Shot in the head, just like daddy. In his home, where his son found him.
And my scab was ripped wide open.
I have already blogged on my brother's suicide. It's still pretty fresh, even if it is 5 years old.
There is always a song, a moment - a flash of something that reminds me. It's always there.
I am not the only person on the planet to be a "Suicide Survivor". This is just a small portion of my story. A story that I wish I didn't have to tell, but I tell because I know there are others like me struggling with the loss of someone they love at their own hand.
Please know the signs. No one always expects someone to die at their own hand. Most times it is a complete shock. No one thinks it will ever happen to them. I never thought it would happen to me.
Thank you for reading my blog.
If you are struggling with the loss of someone close to you, or if you or someone you know are struggling with depression and/or suicidal thoughts - Please reach out!