Dear Suicide: I Don’t Know How to Stop You

Dear Suicide: I Don't Know How to Stop You

You are an enemy I cannot see until it is too late. And I don’t know how to stop you.

I’m tired of you taking my friends’ spouses. I’m tired of you taking children, wives, husbands, daddies, mommies, brothers, sisters and friends. I am done with the heartbreak and this terrible, helpless feeling.

IEDs sucked. Sitting stateside, waiting to hear the name of the most recent victim was awful. But at least I knew that those wouldn’t follow them home.

You? You’re a hitchhiker of war. How do I make you go away?

I know what the researchers say. They tell me you are not preventable, that there is no cure. They say that when a person really, really wants you, there is no way to stop them. There is help, they say. If you are there at the right time and the right place, if a person hears the cries for help, there is intervention.

But often those who want you cry so softly they cannot be heard. They cry to themselves, in the quiet of the night and no one knows it. They invite you home without telling anyone.

Or they do tell us, but they do so without words, in ways that can mean a million different things and can be missed even if you are watching oh so carefully. They cry and we do not hear them, because we do not know for what we are listening.

They cry. We try to listen.

You being here is not our fault. It is not their fault. It just is.

You are a cancer in my community. You are an epidemic among those who have already suffered enough.

They volunteered to go there. And the battle against you is their unjust reward.

Some say that only cowards invite you home. Only the weak, they say, take the “easy way” out — only the selfish would abandon life to leave their families and friends behind with the pain.

They are wrong. I know that you find the bulk of your victims among the strong.

Because it is the strong who struggle silently. It is the strong who try to fight you alone, trying to say “no” to your lure all by themselves. They are too strong to know that help is near, so close, among the people who love them, that there is relief without you.

You are a lie. You offer peace but instead leave destruction.

I am not ashamed of you or your name, Suicide. But I am angry. I am sad.

How do we halt your march? We stand as a community. We cry. We teach. We launch resources and staff help lines. We teach the spouses and families of the mentally wounded to look for you as you skulk into their homes. We declare “no more!”

I don’t know how to stop you. But I do know that although you seem to never retreat, neither do we.

For as long as you are haunting our veterans, we will be there, too, pulling them back with all of our might.


If you or someone you love is struggling with thoughts of suicide there IS help — so, so much help. FREE help is available 24/7 through the private organization Courage Beyond at 866-781-8010, CrisisLink at 1-800-273-TALK and the Veterans Crisis line at 1-800-273-8255. Courage Beyond and the Veterans Crisis Line can also help connect you with free counseling and other resources. Please, don’t leave us here without you. Get help. Want to help prevent suicide? Check out Give an Hour.

About the Author

Amy Bushatz
Amy is the editor in chief of’s spouse and family blog A journalist by trade, Amy also covers spouse and family news for where she is the managing editor of spouse and family content. An Army wife and mother of two, Amy has been featured as a subject matter expert on, NPR, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and BBC as well as in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. Follow her on twitter @amybushatz.
  • KenLand

    We need to give suicidal people hope and the ability to deal with the mental and emotional pain. We also need to tell them that they need to call a person who they can trust to call when the pain is too much. At this point I see nothing wrong with the person going in patient. Other military patients will rally around the new guy. Often the highest ranking person will take the reigns when they feel comfortable. It is much easier to use one’s rank to help subordinates. If anyone needs help with PTSD I wrote an in depth paper on how to get fixed. I was that guy who needed to go to in patient and gradually heal to the point I am at. Take a chance on the paper as I approach it very differently.

  • guest

    I’d just like to point out this isn’t just a service member or veteran problem. Many, many spouses are suicidal, although exactly how many is a mystery because as the military tells us over and over, we don’t count.

  • Rebekah Sanderlin

    Beautifully said.

  • Nelson

    It’s a daily battle. People can’t see a prosthetic
    They can be cruel. My wife & daughters are
    the only ones in my family that help. Brothers
    and sisters are mental bullies. It’s pain.

  • thatperson

    You missed one flag, which for me is the hardest. The continual threat. How do I, the spouse, know when this is no longer “the soldier who cried wolf”. I made a decision after several years of this roller coaster to no longer play that game with my soldier. I told myself, the very next time he stomps off with a gun or locks himself in a bathroom I’m calling the MPs. And I did. You know what happened? Nothing. MPs picked him up took him to Garrison where the command said I was over reacting and sent him right back home. So there ya go. We are ON OUR OWN with them. No one inside the Army is going to help us more than shove more and more pills into our soldier while he rifles through one young inexperienced ” counselor” after another. I don’t give a crap what they tell the media. He fought his war and now this, this suicidal ideation of my soldier…is my war. And no one gives a flying crap. The day I totally got that, that I was 100% on my damn own in this was the day our life started getting better.

    • KenLand

      Spouses like thatperson usually need therapy due to spiraling partner because being a caregiver is not easy.

      • thatperson

        Already go x 3 years. But, thanks for that.

  • M Meier

    I am a former suicide risk (three attempts in my teens and twenties). I finally realized that having something (in my case my dog) that NEEDED me to be there because no one else was is what kept me going. One day I was praying for a reason not to make another attempt, my dog came and put her head on my need and looked me in the eyes. It was a sign. Suicidal depression is the most horrible thing a person can go through because there is no warning when the feeling will hit and no one understands who hasn’t been through it. My best advice is to get a good therapist to talk to about whatever, and get a pet who RELIES on only you to care for it. If you have any sense of devotion, which most military personnel have, you won’t be able to leave it because you will love it more than you will hate yourself.
    God bless all who suffer from this horrible illness!!

    • Sandy

      Thank you for this post! I needed it.

      Disabled Vet spouse