This archived article was written by: Angel McRae
“I need help” was the statement that began a much needed journey of healing and hope rescuing Sam from his decision to commit suicide. (The name of the USU Eastern student has been changed).
Sam grew up in a verbal and physically abusive home where at 12, Sam was sexually molested by his father. At 14, Sam was raped for the first time by a friend and again at 16 by another friend. He married at 17, only to suffer repeated rape and severe mental abuse. His abusers were stereo typically not someone who would ever commit such a terrible crime, at least not in the eyes of those around them.
Sam’s abusers preyed on his weaknesses instead of being there in time of need or as a protection against such actions. He said, “For years I carried the blame, guilt and shame for what others had done to me.” Unfortunately for Sam, this guilt and shame became a weight too heavy to bear and crushed his self-esteem.
“I guess it started out slowly, I already felt pretty worthless because of what had happened to me years earlier, although at the time I didn’t realize that was the root of why I felt the way I did,” he said.
Sam did the usual things that those who are entertaining the idea of suicide do. “I guess in a way I had to justify to myself why it was OK to end things. I started talking really bad about myself to others.”
Taking medication for depression for a few years, Sam was not seeing a psychologist or a counselor, which for many on anti-depressants is the case. This type of treatment works well, but for others not treating the root cause can just mask the underlying problem allowing it to fester and grow like an untreated infection.
Over time, Sam’s body had changed and the medication that had been prescribe was no longer working as it should have been. Sam and his family missed the signs that something was wrong until it was almost too late. He said, “Just getting out of bed for the day was a major accomplishment even if all I did was sit on the couch.”
Being around people would trigger panic and anxiety attacks that only made things worse for Sam. Realizing that something was wrong, Sam went to the doctor to discuss why he was experiencing such a prolonged period of low feelings of self-worth and having thoughts of suicide.
“It was at that appointment that I asked for help. I told my doctor, I can’t do this anymore. I am done. I really just don’t want to live anymore,” he said.
His doctor referred him to a psychologist and also made adjustments to Sam’s medications. The psychologist said, “on a scale of one to ten, Sam was at an eight for risk of actually committing suicide. The only reason he was not rated a ten was because the decision of how to go about actually ending life had not been planned out yet.”
Sam’s psychologist asked for permission to speak with his spouse and enlist her assistance in helping Sam through this difficult time. His spouse and family made sure Sam was never left alone, all medications were put under lock and key in addition to all firearms being stored at another family member’s home until the doctor, psychologist and Sam’s family agreed that the crisis he had been facing was indeed over.
Sam said, “Without the help, love and support of those around me I wouldn’t be here today. I would have killed myself.” Reaching out and getting the help that is needed is such an important step in healing a broken, battered and an abusive past no matter what age the abuse began or how long it lasted.
Darrin Brandt, director of USU Eastern’s counseling and disability resource center said, “Huge emotional upheaval needs to be taken seriously and making sure the ball is not dropped when someone is hurting bad. Connecting people in crisis to resources like doctors and therapists is important.”
Sam allowed us to share a part of the journey that was experienced on the road to healing and once again finding hope, joy and purpose for living. Not all who experience depression or have thoughts and feelings of committing suicide will have had the same experiences that began Sam’s downward spiraling journey.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide, don’t leave them alone. Be sure that any firearms, alcohol, medications and sharp objects are not accessible. Either you or the person in crisis should call the U.S. National Suicide Prevent Lifeline at 900-273-TALK (8255). Be sure to also seek help from medical or mental health professionals.