Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Adam's Song

Last week we received some news that shook me to my core.  A friend of Jason's, who was stationed in Japan with us and left the Army just a few months before us, took his own life here in SoCal.  I didn't know him very well but we lived in the same small community for 3 years and he was my husband's peer and friend.  I know suicide is, sadly, a rampant problem in the military and among veterans but this is the first time it has closely touched my life (unfortunately I cannot say the same for Jason).  This is not the first time I've been effected by suicide, but for some reason, this one seems to be more difficult to wrap my head around.  I think that in some irrational way, I feel like, what if it had been my husband?  We don't know why Chris made the decision he made but my mind immediately goes to the possiblity that years at war, on some level, had an affect on him. (These are my own personal thoughts and assumptions, not based on any known facts, but this is my blog so I'm sharing what I feel)  What if war had affected Jason in that way?  What if he was in a dark, lonely place?  I've never been so grateful for my husband and every day I share with him.  If you believe in the power of prayer, please pray for Chris's family (he was unmarried and didn't have any children).

The WHO (World Health Organization) estimates that over 1 million people die from suicide each year.  It is believed by some that suicide is preventable.  Here are some signs that you can look for in someone that may be considering ending their life:

Suicide Warning Signs
Talking about suicide
Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as "I wish I hadn't been born," "If I see you again..." and "I'd be better off dead."
Seeking out lethal means
Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
Preoccupation with death
Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
No hope for the future
Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped ("There's no way out"). Belief that things will never get better or change.
Self-loathing, self-hatred
Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden ("Everyone would be better off without me").
Getting affairs in order
Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
Saying goodbye
Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again.
Withdrawing from others
Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
Self-destructive behavior
Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a "death wish."
Sudden sense of calm
A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.

In college, I had a friend who decided one day that he was going to give away everything he owned.  He literally put all of his belongings on the lawn in front of his house.  3 days later he attempted to take his own life.  I didn't know then that he had been displaying outwards signs of desperation for weeks.

Please take the time to educate yourself and be vigilant of the signs others are putting out there.  You never know when a friendly gesture can change someones life.

We hadn't seen Chris for a couple months and looking back, I don't remember seeing any of these signs.  I don't know that there was any indication this was going to happen, and perhaps then there wasn't any, at least not then.  No one will ever know.

Chris, your radiant smile will be missed by many.  May you rest in eternal peace.



Elizabeth @ Cheers, Elizabeth said...

Suicide is such a heart breaking occurrence and I'm so sorry you had to experience it this way! I've only known two people who have committed suicide and it is so hard to see the signs while they're happening. Sending prayers for his family, and for your husband!

Emily Stewart said...

So sorry for the loss of your friend. Sending prayers and virtual hugs to his family!

Unknown said...

So sorry to hear of this! Prayers to his family and may he rest in peace!


Chantal said...

Heartbreaking :(

JG said...

I'm so sorry. A guy I grew up with took his own life a few years ago after his deployment. There's such need out there for outreach and support.

Praying for his family.

Daisy said...

I am so sorry about the loss of your friend. I will say a prayer for his family and friends.
I also am so glad that you decided to talk about it and listed the most commons signs of suicide. We never think that someone we know and/or love would really be thinking about suicide but it happens way too often. Then the shock and guilt is so horrible that loved ones never are the same.I know because I lost my best friend/older brother, Tom, to suicide.Even though it has been a very long time ago, the pain is still there, the broken relationships, the guilt, still there.
Now, having 3 loved ones that served in Iraq and Afghanistan brings up that heightened fear and awareness again. Thank you so much Jen for sharing and helping people be aware of the signs which are so clear once it is too late.