For music fans of a certain age, the last few months have been disastrous. It’s obviously old news by now that Soundgarden front-man Chris Cornell hanged himself in May. On June 19, 2017, Chester Bennington of the rock outfit Linkin Park went out the same way. For each day they represent one of the over 117 people who took their own life that day, or about 1 suicide every 12 minutes. Of these 117, approximately 22 each day are veterans. The last numbers available per this New York Times article, 42,773 people committed suicide in 2014, and was a continuing upward trend.
The underlying cause of suicide is often the black dog. Co-opted from a British ghost linked to the devil, the black dog is a great metaphor for depression. That this country has began talking about mental health is a boon for people who suffer from long-term depression. However, the stigma of needing help to get through still exists. Depression does not care if you are successful at your chosen profession. Both Cornell and Bennington were at the top of the music industry, surviving in a time when bands all sound the same. Unfortunately, the thing that made them both great emotional singers is the same thing that took them from the world. Trauma, be it born through combat or other means, often sets the dog loose.
Sometimes, the situation resolves safely, as was the case when Major League Baseball umpire John Tumpane kept a woman from jumping from the Roberto Clemente bridge in Pittsburgh. Unfortunately, happy endings are rare when it comes to suicides.
Fortunately, there are now means to assist people in their time of need. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline of 1-800-273-8255 exists to help talk people off of the edge of the cliff. Text help is available for veterans by texting 838255. Being at the edge, is not a death sentence. Help is available. Most states have free, reduced-cost, or sliding scale mental health clinics. Needy Meds’ database lists such places. Help is literally just a phone call away. Please, take advantage of the resources and prevent becoming a statistic.
This topic hits home for me. Because I’ve been to the edge. In addition to major depressive disorder and anxiety disorder, I suffer from PTSD. Unfortunately, no cure exists, but treatment options exist. I take multiple mood stabilizers and SSRIs in an attempt to live a normal life. Even still, some days the black dog rears its ugly head and nips at my heels. Luckily, I have a solid support system, including a beautiful 2-year-old son. And so I keep trucking. Please, get up, make your bed, put on your war face, and get help if you need it. I don’t know you, but someone in this world loves and needs you.
Godspeed and Good Hunting.