On August 2, 2015, late in the evening just before midnight I almost died. In all the things I’ve done in my life and lived through, it was me that almost took my life. I attempted suicide. I failed. Not the first thing in my life I failed at and it certainly won’t be the last. It’s been six months. Part of me thinks I should already be further along to finding normal again. Part of me has accepted that I must find and accept a new normal. It is a daily struggle. It wasn’t until five months after my attempt that I was actually glad that it failed. But I do still struggle with my thoughts from time to time.
I had a good plan, but obviously it was flawed. I spent 3 days composing my suicide letter. I re-read it a couple months ago for the first time since I wrote it. It was dark. It was apparent that I was not even close to being in my right mind. I look back at the person that wrote it and I’m not even sure who I was at that time. I’ve tried to piece together all the details that took me to that point and it’s not as easy it should be.
I saw the police report. It was sobering to see how close I came to being dead. In the officers statement he said that he found me unresponsive, but breathing. He went on to say that as he approached me, he couldn’t see my face due to the condensation on the clear trash bag that I put over my head and tied around my neck. I don’t know how long I was out but when I woke up I hurt. My chest hurt, I was breathing hard, I couldn’t sit up and ended up falling on the floor. I was scared, confused, and didn’t know where I was at for a moment. Then it all came flooding back. I was supposed to die, but didn’t .
After getting me up and moving, and regaining my faculties, I got checked out by EMS. I was told that they’d be taking me to the hospital by cop car. I resisted briefly and made it clear that I wasn’t going anywhere with them. I saw the officer that was behind the one that had been talking to me take a more offensive stance. I guess when you tell the cops you aren’t going with them, they are up to the challenge. It didn’t come to that. They told me that my oldest daughter was on the scene and that I had a choice of going out to see her first, or to be dragged off in cuffs in front of her. Her being there saved me from further trouble and embarrassment. She still had to watch me get cuffed and put in the back of a police car, but it certainly could have been worse. The story of being in the hospital will be for another time.
A couple weeks after my attempt I wrote a poem called Battlefield. I’ve mostly kept it to myself. The very few handful of people I’ve showed it to have encouraged me to share it, to publish it. I think I’m ready to do that now. Since I know some of you won’t get the “22” reference I will explain. Approximately 22 veterans a day commit suicide. There are a number of organizations that use “22” in their efforts to bring awareness to how many veterans take their own lives on a daily basis. I was almost one of the 22 on that day but I guess I waited too late into the night and the quota had already been met.
Here’s the poem.
By David George
On the battlefield he did not die
Fearlessly served by comrades’ side
Bullets and bombs whizzed on by,
But not everyone there came home alive.
His body intact, his mind gone mad
To see him now, doesn’t look so bad
But the wounds he carries are just as sad,
As the ones brought back in a body bag.
Try as you may, you don’t see his pain
But he can’t avoid it, it’s in his brain
His memory becomes one big stain,
Of war and darkness again and again.
The enemy failed in bringing him down
But he’s losing the battle of himself right now
Hard to reach out, he doesn’t know how,
But without some help, to his demons he’ll bow.
Fate is cruel and already knew
He’d be the next member of Club Twenty-two
He took his own life, sad but true,
Another one gone, what do you do?
Going to war was the easy part
Do your job and do it smart
Had all the training from the start,
His death this way should break your heart.
When you look at the number of Service Members that we’ve sent to war and brought home it’s sad that so many lose the battle of themselves after returning. I think I can speak for all of us who have been to the dark and hopeless desire to die that we would have much rather died on the battlefield than to go out by our own hand.
If you or someone you know needs help, help them. Get them help. Don’t let them slip through the cracks. You don’t have to have all the answers. You don’t even have to fix the problems, you can’t anyway. Just be there and help them get help. I had people helping me, but I cut them off and stopped letting them help. Don’t let that happen. Don’t get offended or take it personal. And don’t be afraid to ask if someone is thinking about suicide. Be direct. You get a more honest answer and a better opportunity to help.
I’ve still got a long road to go. I’m not in the dark place I was before, but I don’t exactly know where I’m at anymore. But I am ok. I promise.
Take care, God bless.