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.