Tonight I’m interrupting your regularly scheduled blog programming to tell you that a guy with whom I served in combat, Ken William “Wild Bill” Lynn killed himself this morning.
I’ve already had my emotional reaction to it. I’m not posting this for your sympathy. I’m posting this because losing a friend sucks. I’m posting this because Wild Bill left a ton of friends who are now shocked and saddened and hurt and confused. I don’t know why he ended his life. those who had contact with him recently said that he seemed fine. The Army’s suicide prevention training taught me that those who had attempted suicide later reported in interviews that their overwhelming emotions were guilt and futility. Essentially that they felt, right or wrong, that they had fucked something important in their lives up, and that nothing they did could fix that. I know this-somebody out there reading this, whether a Vet or not, may be experiencing these feelings, and I want you to know that there is somebody in your life who will be devastated by your death. Please don’t do this horrible thing. Please reach out to the people who love you. I guarantee that whatever it is that you have done or think you have done, you probably haven’t caused as much pain as killing yourself will do. If you can’t face your loved ones, there are lots of resources out in the world. People who care for you and can help you and want to help you. I was in a real bad way a few months back. Ready to pack it in, gun in hand. I called the VA Crisis Line. They talked me down. The life I have now is radically different than the life I had then, and it’s still not perfect. I have my bad days. But it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative.
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline— 1 (800) 273-8255
The VA Crisis Line— 1 (800) 273-8255 Option 1 (yes, they are the same number)
And of course, your local 911 service, and your local hospital Emergency Room.
Ditto! Ditto! Ditto! Ad infinitum.
Sorry to learn you lost your friend Mr. Grunt, but thanks for the advice. Our out of state daughter kept saying she wanted to kill herself to me, mom, and sister. Finally got scared and we called the national line for advice. The folks were great. Started a dialog with daughter, no longer a tabboo or something “we”do not talk about. She is getting consuling and is better. Make the call.
I’m sorry that happened.
Good to have you back here SG, but I am sorry for the reason behind your post. I am glad that you reached out for help in your darkest moments and are now in a position to understand why that was a good thing to do for yourself and those who love you. Thank you for sharing this.
Thanks for this. A close friend of my daughter took his life by jumping off the Golden Gate bridge when he was a high school senior and she was 3 months into college. His death had a devastating effect on his family, but also on so many of the kids that knew him. It is 11 years later and the echoes are still being felt. Please heed Soonergrunt’s advice.
Didn’t mean to come off as glib. No words, Sooner.
Amen. Sorry for your loss. Glad you are feeling better otherwise, and hope you always keep your words of counsel for yourself.
These things can never be said enough. The edge of that abyss is an ugly, ugly place. Sorry he’s no longer here, glad you are.
Ah, hell. My sympathies.
Glad that calling worked for your daughter.
As a previous suicide hotline/mental health clinic worker, some advice for everyone.
Always call. You never know when someone is serious or not. But if you don’t call you can’t help them.
I still clearly remember a call I got, nearly 40 yrs ago. Woman sounded middle aged, we talked for 45 minutes, she sounded better but I could not get her to commit to calling back or not going through with it, even for a day. When she hung up I had the feeling of total failure. But my mentor at the clinic, this wonderful mom in her mid 50s, told me, you gave her 45 minutes she didn’t have when she called. That isn’t a lot to hang your hat on but sometimes that’s all there is.
Help and do what you can, it’s all there is and many times it is more than enough.
Sooner, so sorry for your friend. Sometimes it’s the strongest that snap, like hardened steel. The harder it is the more brittle it is. We seldom really know what is in the mind of others, how they really see the world and how they think the world sees them. Also very glad that you made that call. You are missed around here.
I second your advice, if you are or you know someone who is feeling that they need to end things, call
Yes, please. No matter how much you hate things about yourself , there are a million more things that people love about you that will be missed by them for years and years. Please do like SG and reach out. We need you all.
These are very wise and compassionate words.
I hope that they are a help and a comfort to those who need to reach out to a helping hand.
I’m so sorry about your friend. Thank you for your wise counsel, and keep taking care of yourself. You are missed in these parts.
Sorry to hear it.
My condolences Sooner, and thanks for thinking of this place as a good location to share, and provide good guidance and sources of help.
RIP, Wild Bill.
Damn. Glad to see you back, hate the circumstance. Peace be with him and his family, and you.
Sorry for your loss and 100% echo your sentiments.
Got rid of the guns I’d bought to kill myself and doing way better. Also timely and helpful for me to hear your reminder that no matter how bad I think it is in my head, it would be so much worse for everybody if I acted on those insane thoughts when they come through.
Sending you hugs and support.
@Mary G: speaking of which, are you in touch with HBM?
So sorry, Sooner.
So sorry for you, your friends, and his family.
My sympathy, Sooner, for both you and Mr. Lynn’s family.
My ex took her own life; it’ll be seven years ago come Mothers’ Day.
Survivor guilt is inevitable, but it’s a lie.
You can’t be responsible for another person’s thoughts and feelings; they are beyond your control.
Sooner, I can’t say how much I admire your simple honesty and courage.
Condolences Sooner. I lost two cousins and a couple friends to suicide and can attest to the pain it leaves the loved ones in. All things pass, even the blackness of a deep depression, if we hang on and get help. Thank you for this.
I’ve known 2 suicides and 1 other attempted and yeah, it’s a gut punch. Glad to hear you’re still hanging in there Sooner.
@joel hanes: That kind of survivor guilt may be a lie but the survivor guilt where you simply feel there is no reason for someone else to die while you live is as real as it could be.
Sooner: great to see you back; wish you’d be back more often. Mostly wishing you strength and more peace.
Sorry to hear of Wild Bill’s end. Guilt and futility take a lot of prisoners. I wish we could do more for those suffering, vets and other.
Is such a good description. My family member , similar over the years. His comebacks have shown me what strength and courage are. He’s the strongest person I know.
In addition to the national numbers, some municipalities have numbers as well. In Rochester, it’s LifeLine and they have a mobile team that will come out if someone is in danger.
“Gun in hand” sums it up. People think a gun will protect them from danger without adding in the risk of self harm. I know it’s pretty standard for veterans (hell, at this point, everyone) to have guns and in some party of the country it’s a pretty much non negotiable “man card”, but does military suicide prevention training recommend to guys that they consider not keeping weapons while they work through reentry into civilian life? We all have dark thoughts and dark days; unlike pills, booze, cutting there’s really no chance to accidentally on purpose botch a gun suicide. I read an article last week about the alarming uptick in suicide among middle class middle age white males. They went through every possible cause with the exception of the exponential increase in gun sales seen in the last decade.
I know you don’t want sympathy, but you have it anyway. Losing someone under any circumstances is hard, but suicides are a whole other level.
Sorry to hear about your friend, SG.
Am thinking we can’t have the CDC investigating gun deaths and injuries soon enough. The amount of suicides will be staggering. I think it would start a national conversation, among those still able to converse.
Anybody know if that’s in the works yet?
So sorry to hear about your friend. But good to hear from you again.
If you don’t have money or damn good insurance there is virtually no help once you crawl down off the ledge. I know because I’ve been in both situations, with and without.
It’s cruel to tell people there is help available when really there isn’t.
Major Major Major Major
Thanks for checking in, Sooner. I know we were worried about you.
I’ve been pretty poorly off lately myself, and it’s always good to know that people you respect (even if you’ve never met them) have come out the other side.
Sooner, Thank you so much for the post and please take care of yourself.
Very sorry to hear about your friend, Soonergrunt (and speaking as an infrequent poster but constant reader, I’ve missed seeing you here). I recall reading about suicide survivors who jumped from the Golden Gate bridge–one said that on the way down he realized that everything in his life was fixable except for the fact of having jumped. I wish your friend could have had that chance.
Major Major Major Major
This sort of thing always reminds me of a song by The Mountain Goats. It’s not perfectly applicable to each such situation but… I guess I lost my first friend thusly when I was 15, so it resonates. There’s no real recording so I’ll just post the lyrics.
Thanks for this, Soonergrunt.
Attempted many further remarks, but: Always glad to hear from you, even while hoping better outcomes in your daily life!
The scariest time when someone is suffering depression is when they say they feel fine. That often indicates that they have made a decision.
Anyone who has suffered actual depression and survived to talk about it will tell you that clinical depression is not being really sad. It is a mental health issue that requires professional help. Yes, you can talk to someone who is contemplating suicide, but offering a friendly shoulder is not enough. If you think someone is seriously considering suicide, then you need to get them professional help ASAP.
@Elizabelle: The CDC is specifically banned from conducting gun violence research by the gun nuts in Congress. I doubt if that will change any time soon.
My condolences to Soonergrunt and the Vet’s family/friends.
Off topic but when I heard this story on ABC this morning, I just sighed. As if having easy access to guns has been a great thing for Americans.
Major Major Major Major
@C.V. Danes: “If you think someone is seriously considering suicide, then you need to get them professional help ASAP.”
Can’t be said enough. A person in this state can’t take care of themselves, just like you wouldn’t expect somebody to walk off a broken leg…
This cannot be said often enough.
I tried to kill myself during my first year of college. What drove me was that I couldn’t figure a way out of what I felt to be an intolerable situation. My mom came and got me and took me back home. We didn’t speak much of it, they sent me to a useless shrink, and then I went back to school and got on with my life.
For me, suicide was a decision of the moment, and when that moment passed, so did the suicidal thoughts. What I didn’t realize at the time was how devastated my parents were. They didn’t say that, but looking back, their actions and treatment of me spoke volumes. I think it’s safe to say my actions affected their physical health.
I didn’t really realize this until a few years ago after reading a blog post of a friend of a friend whose kid had killed himself the first year of college. Reading the father’s pain made me realize what my parents would have felt had I succeeded.
Sometimes you can predict suicide, sometimes you can’t. I think the most important thing is to make sure everyone knows (whatever their age) that there is someone who will listen and will help them out of the situation that is causing so much pain.
Thank you SG for an important and very well written post. I am hoping you keep improving and feel better all the time.
I know of 4 people who killed (or tried to kill) themselves. One was a mathematics grad student where I worked (Courant Institute at NYU). He had tried once, was put on drugs and then felt better and tried it a second time. He succeeded the second time. A young women who lived in the building next to my former apartment threw herself out the window. She was seriously hurt and it changed her life completely. When I was in high school two young women who lived near-by me both killed themselves. It scared my mother enough and she allowed me to get counseling for my social problems. (I should also mention that my mother’s first husband killed himself.)
ETA: I should say that I don’t remember if I ever said anything indicating to my mother that I thought to kill myself, but my social life was so lacking that she was scared I would do something as the two young neighbors did, who also had bad social lives.
Depression lies. Depression lies. Depression is a fucking liar. 1) don’t listen 2) get help
When my oldest sister suddenly died (not suicide), it damned near killed my old man. Literally. I have come very close to losing both of my sons on separate occasions and I can attest to the fear and the serious prayers and desire to take their place. It is quite possibly the most horrible thing that can happen to a parent.
What do you do when the thought of dealing with the mental health culture and bureaucracy is in itself a reason for wanting to call it quits?
I’m not being glib, either. The Beast and I are old friends. My personal journal is 1200 pages and counting largely trying to write It out of my system. It (the journal) isn’t 4 years old. Currently Rx’d. Not feeling very good.
Depression is a long story.
SiubhanDuinne, Annoying Scoundrel
Soonergrunt, I echo what everyone else has said — very happy to see you back here and very sorry about the circumstances that led you to post now.
No, and evidently it won’t be until Congress manages to wriggle out from under the NRA’s jackbooted sole and show a little spine.
The takeaway line:
And here’s a good article from the WaPo. It’s from about a year ago, but clearly nothing has changed.
Dan Savage did that great video series for gay teens, called simply: “It Gets Better.”
I don’t know if anyone has done follow-up measures, and I just read Richard’s post slamming McArdle so I don’t want to make up numbers. But I suspect that series helps, measurably, to reduce suicide among teens. Hearing someone who has been through it, hearing them say that it is worth sticking around because there are good things to live for, has to give people hope.
Your post is like that, for a different audience. I hope that other vets can speak to each other as you are doing, to say, “it gets better.”
Paul in KY
@St. A: A permanent solution to a temporary problem.
Sooner, very sorry to hear of your friend’s passing. Hope to see more posts from you. Always have looked forward to your take on things.
Paul in KY
@Major Major Major Major: Killer tune/poem.
Major Major Major Major
@Paul in KY: I guess this version is decent http://youtu.be/JYeeQn65qPw
I am very sorry about your friend, Soonergrunt. And I am very happy that you are still here among us and doing better than you had been.
My condolences. Depression is an awful disease and I think it can be harder in ways to see a loved one battle it than many other serious illnesses.
Paul in KY
@Major Major Major Major: Appreciate the link, sir.
If anybody knows how to get non-fiction books together, I have an idea for one.
After attempting suicide and not dying, I was hoping to find what other people in my situation went through, as feelings of isolation are strong.
But I could not find anything about people who attempted suicide and failed and how they recovered.
If there is a way to get people’s stories together, I think it could help people.
zomg, condolences ‘Grunt, what a tragedy for him, his family, and you and all his friends.
Virtual hugs from a frequent visitor/occasional poster. We love hearing from you, Sooner.
I have a friend whose mother killed herself and arranged things so that the kids would find her dead, bloody body when they got home from school.
One of my dorm mates, her father blew his head off with a shotgun in front of the entire family.
They survived the experience with no physical harm, but they’re not OK. They never will be OK. Ever.
Don’t do that shit to people who you profess to love. You wouldn’t do this to your worst enemy if you’d ever met someone who’s survived the suicide of a family member.
No One You Know
@gene108: I have one.
But it’s still a battle, every day. I wage war on myself. It’s not just depression. It’s the grinding misery of trying to fit in when I don’t…I have Asperger’s…among an alphabet soup of other things. I’m Rx’d for the ones that can be treated that way, but there’s no way to really get around the fact that most people can “see” the importance of social cues and emotional data. Every day is filled with hundreds of decisions about getting it right.
I can’t fix it. But I go on. I hide w when the demands of others get too much for me, and make my apologies, and go on. It helps to come here. I don’t post a whole lot, but I am so grateful for this community. Thank you for the post, and I am so sorry for the OP.
At first read and off the top of my head, that sounds like a good idea. Maybe people could discuss this and see if the concept is positive, it sounds like it to me.
I’ve had periods of depression that let me run to the idea that suicide might be the answer but I was able to get help and see that my instinct that it wasn’t was correct. Hearing/reading about others may be one way to help with that for others.
We have a bunch of writers here and all of us put words to screen regularly……. And we have, obviously, just from reading 50+ comments, many, many people whose lives have been affected by suicide, with stories to tell.
Thank you for this. Depression and suicide run deeply in one side of my extended family. Those scars never heal.
a hip hop artist from Idaho (fka Bella Q)
Soonergrunt, my condolences (regardless of why you wrote this, and I’m glad you did). My condolences to your friend’s family and the rest of his circle of friends as well.
Depression is a very real, serious, and sometimes fatal disease, as the posts in this thread alone demonstrate. I’m encouraged by how clearly this community understands depression is a disease, and that it requires treatment. Sometimes that treatment needs to be changed, and treating docs need to know if meds feel ineffective to their patients.
My hope is that as the ACA implementation is fine tuned, parity for “mental” health treatment will become a reality. Sufficient access to prescribing treatment professionals will be much more helpful, and that includes reimbursement for therapist consultation with the prescriber, which doesn’t always – or even usually – occur without parity. This culture would not tolerate such inadequate treatment for heart disease or cancer.
@JohnO: Well said, and true. Your words made me think of taking shelter. When the storm is at its peak, sometimes one whatever temporary shelter is at hand, even though it leaks and blows.
So sorry about your friend SG. And from a fellow (former) Sooner, it’s always good to hear your voice.
J R in WV
I have posted with a new nym [ J R in WV ( (in AZ temporarily) ] because I’m not now in WV, but in Arizona for a while…
But I haven’t even gotten a moderation clue, just gone.
So could someone check and see if there’s a comment in moderation? if not, found a bug! And let me know either way, please?
ETA: PS, maybe this is just a sign that I’m not meant to post on this topic, or slightly off-topic.
SG I do miss your posts which is probably a drop in the bucket in terms of what good you do for others on a daily basis. Please get rid of your guns – Not fucking worth it.
I hope that you will accept sympathy, although that wasn’t your goal. Your comments are painfully spot on. As someone who has lost dear friends and a beloved uncle to suicide AND battles depression–oh, and as a human as well–I salute your strength and mourn your friend’s death. Keep on keeping on.
Ella in New Mexico
Thank you, sooner, for your truth. God Bless you for caring so much. Keep up the good fight. Love to you.
Thank you for writing this.