Hello, my name is Carrie Lange. Several years ago I was engaged to a man named Dan. At the time, I was 29 years old, no longer a child by anyone’s standards. It wasn’t blind puppy love, or infatuation. I had already been married once, and had a 3 year old daughter.
Dan was to me, the most perfect man I had ever met. He was financially and emotionally stable. He had a job, a car, an apartment, and plans for a bright future. In the year that we were together, we never fought, indeed, I never saw any hint of emotional or psychological trouble.
Was I blind?
Many of the people in my life told me later that I must have been. But I’ve had many years and many tears through which to ponder this question, and I know in my heart that I was not.
One day, quite unexpectedly, I got a phone call from his sister. He was in the hospital. He had cut both wrists and been found, very close to death, in his apartment.
He had surgery to repair the physical wounds, and spent a week in the hospital’s psych ward to heal the emotional wounds. All he ever said to me was that it was a stupid, drunken mistake. He snapped when the pressure over whelmed him. He thanked God that he was still alive.
When he got out of the hospital, we had the best two weeks of our relationship. We spent time having fun with my daughter. Dan laughed, smiled, told us he loved us. Told me he was glad to be alive.
Then, the night before he was to return to work, three weeks after being found not breathing in a pool of his own blood, he went back to his apartment and shot himself in the head.
Back then, I didn’t know that suicidal people are often happiest, and most content shortly before their death. No one at the hospital psych department told me. I trusted them not to let him go unless he was healed.
I didn’t know that suicidal people often hide their depression.
I didn’t know that seemingly happy people killed themselves.
No one ever told me.
Every year in America, 37,000 people take their own lives. That is over 100 people every day.
Day after day.
Week after week.
Year upon year.
Over, and over…and over.
For every completed suicide, 11 other people attempt it. That’s over 400,000 people. 400,000 different people. Every year.
One can only assume that for all those numbers, there are countless more who wish for it, dream of it, “If only I could…” they may wistfully ponder. Alone. In the dark. In the quiet, solitary recesses of their despair.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in America and has surpassed motor vehicle accidents as the #1 cause of death by physical injury. Yet society as a whole attempts to hide it away, perhaps into those same, solitary recesses from whence it is born.
Why do we do this? We aren’t ashamed of Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Cancer… so why are we ashamed of Depression?
Ten years after Dan’s death, I thought my nightmare with suicide was over, the open wounds healed into delicate, gauzy scars which criss-crossed my heart. I was re-married and had a son with a man named Mark who I met on a grief support website. His fiancée, Kim, died two weeks after Dan.
But the nightmare of suicide never ends. It’s a relentless stalker. It preys on our society with reckless abandon. The nightmare began for me again the day I discovered self-inflicted cut marks on my 13 year old daughter. In short order I got a phone call from her school counselor. My daughter was in the office expressing her desire to commit suicide.
I have been struggling through the nightmare for almost two years now, with no support, and usually no direction. I didn’t know what I needed, but as I learned through my experience with Dan, I couldn’t rely on the medical community to ‘make everything all better’. I became a voracious advocate for my daughter and took it upon myself to seek out the resources which would help us get through the nightmare of suicide.
Out of all this work, and all this nightmare, I developed a strong desire to help others. My daughter, through her struggle to understand her own depression, kept asking me about Dan’s death. The book I wrote, called ‘Letting Go’, first began as my way of explaining to her an often unexplainable act.
What started out as a more or less autobiographical work of non-fiction for my daughter, morphed into a semi-fictional narrative exploration of suicide, grief, and forgiveness, which I felt would be of interest to a wider audience. All proceeds that I earn will be donated to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
My desire to reach out to others has grown and flourished and in this small way, with this blog and with my book, I hope to give to others what I never found for myself.
If you, or someone you care about is Depressed, whether suicidal or not, you need two things. Medical help and hope. I can’t give anyone medical help, but it is my aim, with this blog and with my book, to provide some hope. Hope not just for them, but also for the many tens of thousands more suicide survivors. The victims of suicide left behind to deal with not just grief, but guilt and shame. Burdens which they often have to shoulder alone, cut off from a world which may look on them with uncomfortable eyes, or worse yet, accusing eyes.
If it were within my power, I would take each and every one one of those 100 people who die every day at their own hands and put my arms around them and tell them, “Hang on for one more day. Life means hope. You are worth saving. Don’t give up.”
If you are reading this blog, I will say it to you.
Hang on for one more day.
Life means hope.
You are worth saving.
Don’t give up.