Suicide is never the answer

  • Published
  • By Donna Stapleton
  • 1st Special Operations Medical Group
Whenever I read the paper and see about another person taking their own life, I just wish I could crawl into the heads of those contemplating it to tell them that suicide is not the answer.

I speak from some experience. I lost my best friend of 15 years to suicide in 2010. As I reflect back over the years I would have lost with my sons, my family and friends, I'm grateful I didn't go through with it. And almost three years after my friend's suicide, I'm still in denial and miss her deeply. Yet I still feel some guilt about the unanswered questions.

I hold no reservations about saying this: I have suffered from depression for most of my adult life and once had suicidal thoughts before. At 56, it truly is a gift that I am still here. I believed when I had my suicidal thoughts that if I was gone, all the problems of life would go away and everyone around me would be better off. Simply put, I believed I was the root of all problems. But it took me time to realize this negative viewpoint isn't so.

Depression is a life-long illness that can become dormant, but can be managed. Being depressed is a feeling that has a lifeline. Either way, when you're in the pits of darkness and you can't see the light, it is hard to believe the light will shine again. I'm here to tell you it does.

Today, I'm grateful I chose life and consider myself fortunate to have found the great support that I received. Many times, I still wanted to give into the pain of depression, but I would put one foot in front of the other and keep moving forward.

When my best friend took her life, the rug was pulled out from under me and I soon spiraled down. I wanted to sleep forever and not have to feel the pain from the loss of my friend. What most people may not understand is that depression is a pain that hurts so deeply from within and doesn't just "go away." It can seem like a constant dark cloud. But I didn't want to feel it anymore.

Soon after, my behavior began to affect my job as well as my working and personal relationships. The guilt over her loss felt overwhelming as she left behind many unanswered questions. Three years later, I still mourn her death.

Life hasn't always been easy, as I've survived more struggles along with life's ups and downs. But, today I'm glad I chose life and saw my three sons graduate from high school and grow up into the young men I'm so very proud to have raised.

I've gotten to experience adventures around the world and live in many places like Japan, Texas, Utah, Ohio, North Carolina, Massachusetts and beautiful northwest Florida. I've met some awesome people along the way who have become great friends. And best of all, I allowed my sons to grow up having their mother cheer them along the way.

But please know my intention in writing this was never for myself--I meant it for any person reading this who may be feeling as I once did.

Your life IS worth living. If you are going through a dark chapter, you WILL defeat it (and not the other way around.)

Reach out to a friend. Seek professional help. Talk about what you're going through. You may not realize it now, but the people around you are more than willing to help you--but they can't unless you take the first step.

Above all, for your friends and families as just as much for your own--choose life.