September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day
Have you personally known someone who committed suicide? I have……
His name was Erich.
He had a successful career with a multinational manufacturing company.
Erich loved his job, his wife and his little Dachshund. He was a happy man.
One day, his world turned upside down and his heart was broken. Erich’s sweet little dog had to be euthanized at only seven years old, due to a broken spine. She was his baby and he mourned intensely. Af if that wasn’t devastating enough, the spectre of recession reared its ugly head and Erich was unceremoniously dumped by the company. Fortunately, he was hired by a distributor shortly thereafter and seemed to be recovering. The cheery note returned to his voice and he claimed to be content with his new employer. This went on for five years.
Then came the call which shocked everyone. Erich had consumed an entire bottle of cognac and blown his brains out in the garage, with his hunting rifle. His wife made the grisly discovery when she returned from a family visit. There was no note, but everyone surmised that losing his dog and his job had caused a serious, festering depression that grew over time.
Similar to Robin Williams, nobody knew.
Erich was my boss from 1976 until 1981. When he was let go, the company promoted me to department manager. (Yes, I felt bad about that, but these are the harsh realities of corporate life.) His new job at the distributorship kept us in daily contact by phone and he seemed perfectly normal. Obviously, the alcohol played a large part in his suicide and I always wonder if Erich would have pulled that trigger, had he been sober. Only his wife was privy to his personal demeanour. Business associates had no idea how tormented he truly was.
How does one predict whether or not somebody is at risk to commit suicide, if there are no outward signs? This question has plagued me for years. According to various experts, there are always signs, some of them subtle.
Stay connected to those you love and reach out whenever possible. Most countries have suicide hotlines and if you, or anyone you know may be considering this, do not hesitate to call!
On the one hand, it must take tremendous courage to end your own life. Can you imagine pulling the trigger, slitting your wrists, jumping off a bridge or tall building, poisoning or hanging yourself? How many of us would even have the nerve? The despair has to be incredibly overwhelming and it saddens me to think that anyone could reach such depths. On the other hand, (cases of terminal illness excepted), it is the ultimate act of cowardice and selfishness. Just think of the fallout for those left behind; the horror, the guilt, the agony of loss. Some problems that seem insurmountable, rarely are. Suicide is not the answer!
Write Tribe’s Voices for Suicide Prevention