I was asked to write a 400 word article for the Star News with the purpose of addressing suicide among Law Enforcement personnel. This short article was meant to lead the reader (the officer) to think I am talking about criminals, and then flip-it to talk about the wake of destruction caused by officer suicide. Star News is a monthly magazine for Law Enforcement personnel.
Why do they do it? Why do they act in ways that leave a wake of destruction behind them? How can they do that thing that they do, and not consider the consequences to everyone they love? Is it selfishness, or a way to alleviate some suffering or perceived injustice that the world has dealt them? Who knows? It differs for each.
The fact of the matter is that there are real consequences to their action. The children—abandoned because of one moment of selfishness—will never return to what they perceived as a normal life. The spouse, who once had a partner in life’s great adventure, now finds herself facing a lifetime of struggle and loneliness. What about the parents? How many parents are asking themselves, “What went wrong? We never thought it would be our child!”
It is time we realized that the choices we make affect everybody that we know. One bad choice in a desperate moment leads to a life of pain and suffering for others. We see it frequently—don’t we—this selfishness that destroys the lives of good people. We see it every time the handcuffs are used and we make the trip to lock-up. However, it is not society’s criminal element that I am writing this article about.
I recently lost a very dear person to suicide.
The truly heartbreaking part of the experience is not (I am sorry to say) the loss of the loved one. The heartbreak is what the individual left behind. The tragedy is found in the eyes of the older sister who was trembling as I hugged her in an attempt to console. The tragedy was in the heart of the mother who will forever think, “If I had done this (or that) differently…” Then there is the Father who doubts every day whether he was a good parent of not. And if there are children… The aftermath does not go away—it is part of the wake—and the ripples of the wake will be felt for a lifetime.
Unfair? Yes. Tragic? Yes. But in one moment of selfish relief many lovely people were sentenced to a life of damage, a life they did not choose, a life traumatically changed.
Remember hope… there is always hope!