The Sept. 5 edition of the Cherokee Tribune carried a front-page story headlined “Counselor urges people to act on warning signs of suicide.”
I read the story by Tribune reporter Donald Campbell because I had just received word that one of my great grandchildren had been put on suicide watch due to excessive bullying. Not only did I learn a lot about suicide, but it brought back many memories of instances where suicide was involved with in the extended family circle. Back in the early ’90s, a first cousin committed suicide shortly after his wife had died. They had no children and he was legally blind. It was a sad situation.
This story also reminded me of my first book, “Life after Suicide.” The title came from a book written in the early ’80s titled “Life after Death” that was a bestseller. Campbell’s story also reminded me of an instance back in 2007 when I spent 30 days in the hospital due to a fall that shattered both my left hip and left shoulder. Shortly after being released from ICU and placed in the recovery area I began to get acquainted with both the staff and nurses. Often my discussion would revolve around being prepared to make my transition from mortality to immortality. The staff took this type of talk as a warning sign of possible suicide.
Soon thereafter I began receiving visits from the hospital psychologist, though I didn’t know who he was at the time, nor did I have any idea of what he was attempting to do – get me to talk about my possible suicide. We had some enjoyable talks during these visits. But I’m not sure if I ever figured out who he was until well after I had left the hospital. Even today my morning prayer always includes a statement to the Lord that I’m ready to make my transition whenever He wants to call me home. So far, He has not called me home. But I hope I will be ready for my entrance exam when it comes my turn to make that transition. I have no fear of this upcoming transition. In fact, I look forward to it as I will be met by a son who died in my arms 51 years ago following a fatal automobile accident.
But I continue to prepare for that transition day by reading His scriptures every day. I have just completed reading the Old Testament for the umpteenth time and just completed my study of the books of Matthew and Mark in the New Testament and am now pondering the writings of Luke. Each time I read the Bible I learn something new. It truly is the book of life, both of out preexistence, current mortality and life after this mortality.
In recent months I have spent a great deal of time in local hospitals to repair five cracks in my vertebrae. Not pleasant visits but each time I go into a hospital the entrance nurse asks me if I have ever had thoughts of suicide. I have not. I enjoy life, even though life is very painful these days. Each time I ask one of the doctors why my back is so vulnerable the answer always comes back “91,” meaning my bones are more brittle at age 91 then then were at age 35.
Campbell’s story, based on a talk given by Britt Parramore of PathLight Counseling to the Canton Rotary Club, indicated that suicide was the third leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24, and the second leading cause of death for college students. My grandchild falls into this age category.
When I wrote my book, “Life After Suicide,”’ nearly 40 years ago I included all the statistics relating to suicide based on government studies. They were impressive statistics, but at the time my emphasis, as indicated by the book’s title was the life following mortality and that the pains that would lead to suicide would simply be transferred to the afterlife. At the time I thought that a better understanding of the purpose of life would help prevent any suicide. Since then I have come to understand that this belief is erroneous. My grandchild that was on a suicide watch has had a strong education in religion and yet the bullying was strong enough to overcome that knowledge.
All Rotary members and readers of Campbell’s story should take Parramore’s counsel to heart and look for the signs of suicide and be prepared to act whenever suicide signs appear.