Friday, July 08, 2016

Suicide Prevention: The Sun Always Rises

Chin up! The Sun always rises!

My friend, Paul Tuck, died three years ago today. I’ve been thinking about him lately. I miss his zany and quick humor. I miss his smile and his laugh. To be honest, though, I didn’t like him much when I first met him. He delighted in playing devil’s advocate on any issue that was opposite of where you stood at that moment. My first introduction to Paul was when I was giving him and my friend, Nathan, a ride from some event in Salt Lake City, and he was arguing about the superior quality of 8-bit Nintendo music over the Sega Master System or something, and I couldn’t get him home fast enough. He was a masterful troll. Over the years I learned to understand his humor, and more importantly, recognize when he was having fun with me. I, also, learned to have fun back.

I remember impressing him when I got my Amiga 2500 to run a Mac emulator through a PC emulator. It was terribly slow, and Nathan thought I was insane, but Paul appreciated the mad genius of the moment. Another time I opened a VNC tunnel from my Amiga to my OS/2 PC, and opened a VNC tunnel from my PC back to my Amiga. The screens recursively drew themselves into an infinite loop, like mirrors reflecting eternity. Paul loved geeky stuff like that.

Paul’s suicide hit me hard that summer. I had just begun writing “Saying ‘No!’ to Suicide” the month before when I got the news that he had taken his own life. Sitting in his funeral service, and watching all the grieving family members around me, suddenly gave me the approach I needed for my book. I revised my introduction that night. The rest came easily after that.

The insight I gained was to address both the suicidal loved ones, and those who remained behind. It was a painful perspective that only life can give to you. I had never before had a loved one commit suicide before, and it changed me. It was also when I settled on dawn as a theme for my book. You see, what saved me years ago, and time and again, was that I always knew the sun would rise. Whatever terrible thing I was overwhelmed with at that moment, would evaporate with the morning dew. Paul didn’t have that perspective. I didn’t even know he was struggling. I wish I could have helped him. Maybe I could have made a difference, but time only moves forward. We can’t fix the past.

If you are struggling with suicidal ideation today, I encourage you to reach out to somebody you trust. Don’t carry your burden alone. Depression deceives us, and we don’t always think clearly under its influence. I have a support network I rely on when my depression takes a dark turn for the worse. I’ve, also, found four reasons to live that help me look past the darkness: my daughters. They help me see that dawn is just breaking on the horizon when I might otherwise think I’m drowning in the night.

I’m glad that I have learned to master these dark urges. I haven’t felt suicidal in a long while, and it’s quite a relief. My daughters are relieved as well. The struggle to fight suicidal tendencies can be exhausting, but we truly can train ourselves to change how we think. I can’t help Paul, but hopefully somebody out there is reading my book or my blog and learning that we don’t have to suffer. We can choose to live.

The sun always rises.

I share more thoughts on overcoming suicide in my book. Follow the link to read Chapter One for free right in your browser.