I could not understand
"My….dad….killed himself?” As my mind spun, I thought it had to be a mistake. Maybe it was an accident. He was our rock, the one who could get through anything. He is the only person I know that did not make excuses in life. “How could this be?” But, even during our conversation, I admit that somehow, I knew. I saw something…..we all did. But we did not know what ~ we did not understand
First, I felt anger. “How could you do this to us? To mom? To my daughter? You are her papa. She adored you!! Even worse than that, you know how much suicide hurts those left to pick up the pieces. You lost your uncle to suicide and your dad attempted once too. You know the pain it causes!” He did not understand
Then, after my anger, I felt guilt. It was that false sense of pride. At the time I was working on my counseling degree. I took psychology classes so I should have known! I did not understand
So, I handled this situation the way I handle all situations. I must research it, understand it, try to figure out what went wrong. In this effort, I completed my degree as a counselor. I am also a certified suicide intervention skills trainer. I help break the stigma and shame that surrounds suicide.
This work is so rewarding because first, I realized that my anger and guilt were very normal. I also have more appreciation for how fragile we are and how much we need each other. Even the strongest person has a breaking point. I’m beginning to understand
That was the case with my dad. He reached a point in life where he felt suicide was his only option. Unfortunately, I was not skilled to be aware, alert, and able to intervene then. But, I am now. I have personally trained hundreds of people in suicide intervention skills and I continue this effort.
I was not able to save my dad, I accept that. However, I take peace in knowing that this work has helped save others. Each time I counsel, I help individuals who are hurting! Each time I do a presentation about suicide, I help family, friends, and loved ones understand! My hope is to create suicide safe communities where we talk about it and make a difference! Dad, I’m doing this for you because now…I finally understand!!