You are not alone

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - YOUR DAILY BREAK - An­nie Lane

DEAR AN­NIE >> My son, who was in the U.S. Army for 13 years and be­came a ma­jor, took his own life. My hus­band and I were the re­cip­i­ents of ev­ery par­ent’s worse night­mare: At 7 a.m., there was a knock on the door. Two mil­i­tary per­son­nel were there to in­form us that our son died of a self-in­flicted gun­shot wound to the head. He was 35 years old, a stel­lar, ex­em­plary sol­dier who spent more than two years of de­ploy­ment in the Mid­dle East (Iraq and Afghanista­n). De­spite many medals and so many ac­com­plish­ments — he was promoted twice be­low the zone — our son felt life was not worth liv­ing and that the world would be bet­ter off with­out him. His death was so pre­ventable and, now, so per­ma­nent.

No one knew how hope­less, de­pressed and in such de­spair he felt. On the out­side, he seemed a cool, con­fi­dent role model and hard­worker fo­cused on his Ph.D. in in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy. Yet on the in­side, he was bro­ken and full of self-hate. My fine, fine son, at the top of his game, felt worth­less and unloved.

Af­ter his death, we got so many let­ters from sol­diers and civil­ians about spe­cial mem­o­ries. All of them said what an im­pact he made on their lives and how they are bet­ter peo­ple be­cause of him. Yet my son never re­al­ized how loved and re­spected he was.

I am heal­ing, daily, and I have my faith, fam­ily and friends who have got­ten me to this point with their un­con­di­tional love, sup­port and prayers. I have to let God, let go and go on.

The num­ber of mil­i­tary sui­cides is astro­nom­i­cal, and it needs to end now. There has to be a bet­ter plan for sui­cide pre­ven­tion — not only for the mil­i­tary but for every­one. If one fam­ily can be spared this un­bear­able heartache, then I will feel blessed.

Please do not feel ashamed or afraid to get help, if you feel you are cor­nered and there is no so­lu­tion. End­ing your life is not the so­lu­tion. You are not alone. You mat­ter. You are enough. Just reach out, it’s that sim­ple. Dial the phone or hold out your hand. You are a child of God, and God loves you, un­con­di­tion­ally, even at your dark­est mo­ments. Trust in God, or what­ever higher be­ing you be­lieve in, and hold on. Just hold on. It is not a sign of weak­ness to ask for help. It is a sign of strength and courage and brav­ery. Please visit the web­site 22toomany. com. There is a won­der­ful or­ga­ni­za­tion called War­riors and Quiet Waters, which of­fers a re­treat for com­bat sol­diers re­turn­ing from de­ploy­ment who have post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

You sur­vivors, all of you, par­ents, grand­par­ents, un­cles, aunts, cousins, broth­ers, sis­ters, friends, ac­quain­tances of peo­ple who have com­mit­ted sui­cide, you are here for a rea­son. Do not feel ashamed or hope­less.

— Griev­ing Mom of a Vet

DEAR GRIEV­ING MOM >> I am so sorry for your loss. A re­port ear­lier this year from the De­part­ment of Vet­er­ans Af­fairs found that at least 60,000 vet­er­ans com­mit­ted sui­cide be­tween 2008 and 2017. That is a shock­ing fig­ure. I am hon­ored to print your beau­ti­fully writ­ten plea in the hope it gets through to even one per­son who needs to hear it.

In ad­di­tion to the re­sources you rec­om­mended, the Vet­er­ans Cri­sis Line is avail­able 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, for sup­port and cri­sis in­ter­ven­tion. Call their trained re­spon­ders at 800-273-8255 (press 1); text them at 838255; or chat with them on­line at Veter­an­sCri­sis­Line.net/Chat.

“Ask Me Any­thing: A Year of Ad­vice From Dear An­nie” is out now! An­nie Lane’s de­but book — fea­tur­ing fa­vorite col­umns on love, friend­ship, fam­ily and eti­quette — is avail­able as a pa­per­back and e-book. Visit http://www.cre­ator­spub­lish­ing.com for more in­for­ma­tion. Send your ques­tions for An­nie Lane to dear­an­[email protected]­ators.com.

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