When all hope is lost…the ultimate and painful act of suicide…

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Daniel Somers at his graduation from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, Calif., in June 2006.Courtesy of Howard and Jean Somers

Losing a veteran son to a broken system…  Quote from this heartbreaking website article written by Howard & Jean Somers…

“His physical symptoms included acute and chronic pain from fibromyalgia, which was so “grinding” that at times he could barely move; chronic fatigue so severe that “just holding my head upright requires more effort that I can bear”; excruciating headaches that could “easily be enough to strike an entire day from my calendar”; and an extreme case of irritable bowel syndrome that “literally controlled my schedule.” He was so embarrassed by these medical issues that we did not know until after his death that the hugs we gave him for comfort actually hurt him physically.”

Is suicide the ultimate selfish act?  Quote from this website…

“Today, suicide has become an alternative choice for relief of ones pain and suffering. It is trendy for the youth as well as the old to use some form of suicide to exit this life. For someone to even consider this means of losing their life it usually means they have lost all hope, it is the last resort. When one has no hope does not know God or have faith, suicide becomes one of the greatest acts of selfishness. For by doing this the individual fulfills his own desires and his own will, ignoring the catastrophic effects it has on others. One is so depressed and engrossed in there own hopelessness that they are not aware of how it affects there loved ones. So it is an end to suffering for themselves but for others it is only beginning.”
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I know what it feels like to lose all hope at times in my life, but it was never serious enough for me to take my own life.  The thoughts of suicide were apparent way back in 1965 when a US Navy team of mental health professionals concluded that my acutely depressed condition and diagnosis was a risk.  I was lucky to be in such excellent care at that time.  By allowing me to return home two years early from active duty and move on with my life, it may have saved my life at that time.  But the reality is that we never know what the ultimate trigger to commit suicide might be.  I continued my life and survived and thrived for decades before really understanding my own PTSD condition.  Hiding the invisible pain from others is often an act or cover-up because showing weakness is so embarrassing for anyone suffering from severe anxiety and depression.  Survivors who thrive often pretend each and every day that they are just fine around others.  If lucky, we become completely absorbed during waking hours in the work and play we love.  We take our anxiety and depression off the table for at least 18 hours a day, and sleep little most nights.  But eventually, and in my case, all of the baggage catches up to mind and body once free of the rigors and discipline of professional life, including the chronological challenges of aging…  

To continue surviving and thriving, the aging person suffering from past traumatic events with the symptoms of PTSD, must find a new way forward.  But the new path becomes a journey of healing rather than a mask of denial and deception.  Otherwise, the loss of hope creeps back in along with thoughts of suicide.  Also apparent in my own recovery was to be lucky enough to have a life partner and spouse who is highly sensitive and caring.  Keeping hope alive is a work in progress for survivors.  We thrive mostly because of loved ones and those close to us who care.  We thrive because we are no longer embarrassed or in denial.  We thrive because we are mindful of the critical importance of human connectedness.  Some of us are lucky enough to have outward personalities that keep our minds and bodies engaged to live in the moment.  I believe most of us are blessed if we survive the emotional baggage that hangs on for a lifetime following severe traumatic events.  

I cannot put myself in the  place of a person who is finally resolved to commit suicide and takes his/her life in that instant.   Although suicide is clearly part of the human condition, we do understand the model of survival and a way forward to thrive.  All we can do is try and create the favorable conditions to mitigate the risk of suicide in those who suffer the most.  Quoting Howard and Jean Somers…  “On behalf of every American who, like Daniel, put on a uniform and served our country, we must do better.”  Awareness and engaging others are the first steps to embarking on the journey of healing.  I commend the Somers for their willingness and passion to speak out about the suicide circumstances of  their loving son, Daniel Somers…a US Army National Guard veteran who served America with honor and pride… 

Steve Sparks
Author
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story  click to order…

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