The phone rang and jolted me from my sleep. I looked over. Mom was calling. It was well after midnight, which means this could only be bad. It reminded me that we’re all one phone call from our knees.
It was actually my dad – my mom couldn’t bear to talk. He eventually stammered, “They found her, bud. She is gone.“
My aunt – my mom’s sister – had been missing for about 12 hours at this point. She had gone to church and then no one could find her. A manhunt followed.
Some thought she had been kidnapped. Others feared she had gotten into a bad car accident and was unable to call.
The truth was much grimmer.
This Day Was Just Like Any Other
As with so many stories that end this way, the day seemed normal at first.
My aunt told my uncle to buy some creamer for her coffee, because they were out. She wanted some for her coffee the next day. She was planning on having a “next day.”
She went to church, taught Sunday school, and then something happened. We aren’t exactly sure, though we have some suspicions.
What we do know is that she worked as a preoperative nurse and – though her work was closed – she drove to work that day.
Once there, she started an IV on herself and then administered a general anesthetic with doses of drugs to induce amnesia and paralysis with no one there to support her airway when she stopped breathing.
She fell from her chair and landed on the floor where my uncle and the two police officers would find her hours later after she had died by suicide.
My aunt ended her life two days before Christmas, and four days before she was supposed to meet my second child, then about six weeks old.
This blog post is part of the 3rd Annual Suicide Prevention Awareness Month blog tour. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.
She Was Always Happy
This is often confusing to people who haven’t spent time with those who are suicidal or known someone who has died of it. These people are often happy on the outside.
I have so many memories of my aunt that make my heart happy, too.
My aunt was the happy go lucky person. She had an infectious smile and did this funny thing when I was a kid where she would bite her lower lip and show her teeth when you felt down.
You couldn’t help but smile around her.
She loved slap-stick comedy. You know, the really bad stuff (think: Dumb and Dumber). Her laugh was loud and could fill a house.
She loved music. I remember riding in the back of her teal car when I was a kid after they bought a new “sound system.” I think it was a Thunderbird. The sound was so cool to me, and my love of music never left me – music is even playing in my ears now as I write this.
She was also the one who got the DJ to play “I gotta feeling” by Black Eyed Peas at our wedding (You know, the one that goes, “Tonight’s gonna be a good night“…appropriate for a wedding). It was so new that the DJ didn’t have it yet. She let him play it from the CD that she had in her car.
When we visited family we would stay with her and my uncle. She loved hosting others. She loved my uncle and her dogs. If I believed in reincarnation, she would definitely come back as a horse. She loved horses.
Why Are You Telling Me This?
I am talking about this for two specific reasons:
Number 1. Suicide Needs to be Talked About
What I am telling you is deeply personal to my family and me. In fact, if you look at the genesis of this website, you’ll see that it took me five posts to bring up physician suicide and the story of my Aunt.
The reason I am telling you this, and will continue to tell you this every September (suicide awareness month) is that talking about suicide is important.
People often fail to seek help because of stigma and fear of judgement.
I want people to know that not only should they seek help, but that it is the strong, courageous, and necessary thing to do. Asking for help isn’t weak.
Number 2. Money Is Often a Contributor
On this site I view wealth and wellness as intrinsically linked. Those who have obtained financial independence are far less likely to experience some of the stressors that can lead to suicide: lack of fulfillment, debt, and forced unemployment.
My aunt had many demons, but one of them was certainly a poor financial situation. We think she feared an impending job loss, and given her finanical situation saw no other way out.
Knowing my aunt’s selfless nature, she probably ended her life thinking that she was making things better for my uncle and the rest of us. This is a common theme from people who have survived suicide attempts. They thought they were a burden.
Suicidal people can be happy. They can show no signs of what is to come. This is the most disturbing part to me. However, there are often warning signs.
In this month of September – and every other month – check in on your friends and family. If they need help, get it.
If you are the one that needs help, please ask.
If you are feeling suicidal, please call the
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.
**Title of this post “I guess we are all one phone call from our knees” attributed to Mat Kearney’s song titled Closer to Love.