Today is Suicide Awareness Day. Every single day, it seems like I log into my Facebook account only to be assaulted by more stories of gay teen suicides and people who have been victimized by hate crimes so horrible that I can’t even imagine them in my worst nightmares.
The other reason this is so important to me … my father committed suicide 16 years ago, on Sept 17th, 1996. It isn’t hard for me to talk about anymore. I like to tell the graphic truth. Maybe if you are that person contemplating suicide, you need to know the gruesome truth and the things you will put your family through? On the morning of September 17th, Dad left the house at about 6am never to be seen again. He had taken rope, written a suicide note, driven approximately 2 miles from the home he shared with my mother and found his way down a dirt road. He pulled his car underneath a tree in Marion County, FL. He secured the rope to the limb of the largest tree he could find. He stood on the hood of his car and placed the rope around his neck with great precision and he jumped. The coroner told us that death had come quick, he had apparently known what he was doing.
It took four days for his body to be found. A perfect stranger happened across the scene. To this day, I don’t know who this man is but I pray to God that he hasn’t had too many nightmares. On September 21st, the coroner’s report would officially declare him dead, but I don’t recognize this day. I recognize the date on the goodbye note that he left, the one in which he said he loved us. My father never told me he loved me until he wrote that note. How sad.
His body was in decomposition and a mess. The Florida heat and bugs had taken their toll. God bless the Marion County sheriff’s department for INSISTING that they had enough information to verify his identity and not request that any of us identify the body. I was told in confidence later on that there was no way we could have anyway…he was too far gone.
My family had to endure going to the sheriff’s department and retrieving his car, his wedding ring, his watch, his wallet and keys. I was charged with driving the car back to my mother’s home. It was the longest drive of my entire life. I talked to my father the whole time. “Why?” “Why didn’t you talk to me?” These are the questions that your family and friends will ask for the rest of their lives. This is what they will have to go through: Sitting and talking to the funeral director, deciding what head stone and what it should say… was he a veteran, did we want a military funeral … etc. There is no time to grieve and you are forced into making decisions that you don’t want to be making.
After a few hours, you go into a bubble and the world starts to move on around you. Pretty soon, you are just watching your life and not taking a part in any of it. This is what those left behind go through when you decide to leave this world so unexpectedly. In my case, I’ve spent 16 years coming to terms with this whole traumatic experience. I feel that I’ve FINALLY gotten to a point to where I can move on with my own life. I also feel that I’m called to reach out to others now.
I do my best to reach out to those who are hurting, confused and sad by writing. I hold my hand out to the GLBTQ community every single day. I will take anyone by the hand and pull with all my might to free them from the type of quagmires that make us all feel hopeless. Sometimes I need a hand too. Sometimes I get drug down into it too…it’s merely the human condition! We all get there, we all have days, we all hurt and we all suffer. I’ve said it so many times… the suffering is not the destination, it is only part of the journey!
Charley Pride was one of my dad’s favorite singers. This was my personal favorite Charley Pride song. I have great memories of sitting next to my dad in his old Ford. I was barefoot most summers and he’d make me run in the house and get shoes….”I’m not taking you into the store like that…and wash your face too!” He’d wait for me patiently with his radio on, in the driveway. One time, I remember this song playing and I turned it up when I got in the car. He looked at me and just laughed and smiled. I grew-up just a short drive from the Mississippi river. My father taught me to fish. “You’re the childhood dream I grew up on….Roll on Mississippi.” That big river keeps on flowing no matter what. So does the world. I feel connected to that river, maybe because it holds so many great childhood memories for me and it reminds me of my home? Regardless, the memories are HAPPY ones now. I’ve let go of the horrors and I’ve dealt with them.
It’s only for you, the person out there who knows I am talking to them, that I am saying all these things. I want you to stop and think twice. If you feel down, if you think there is no place to turn, there are places you can turn to. I promise you that if you just talk to someone that you’ll feel better and you’ll see that there’s no reason to take your own life. It isn’t worth short-changing yourself of all the good things that are coming down the road. It isn’t worth the pain you will cause so many other people. It’s like getting up in the middle of the movie without seeing the end! Everyone knows the best part is the end!
If you feel suicidal or you know someone who might be, remember that all hospital ER’s are trained to give help and support. They have counselors available to help and they will. Also 1-800-273-TALK (8255): Suicide hotline, 24/7 free and confidential, nationwide network of crisis centers.
Also, check out this link about awareness and prevention for gay teens! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Awareness-and-Prevention-Of-Suicide-Among-Gay-Teens/177213738984406
There are people who care. I don’t care if I don’t know you, if you are suicidal you can send me a message. I will talk to you!