The Year Before Last
season is approaching, and with it comes the New Year. Although for
me time passes slowly, New Year's Day will ring in quickly.
I dread this New Year's Day because they will look at me in a terribly
strange way when I get misty-eyed, and talk about something you had
done. After you first left me, they reasoned when I cried, "He's
only been gone a few months." And I would catch that look of
understanding in their eyes, and found some comfort that they knew.
But on last New Year's Day, my first thought upon awakening was, Oh
God, my son died last year, not just a few months ago, not even this
year, but last year. He will never live in this year. They didn't
understand, they didn't reason, that last year, for me, the loss was
still new. They thought, "It happened last year, so long ago,
why does she still cry?" I could see it in their eyes.
This New Year's Day, will it be different? Will my first thought
upon awakening be, Oh God, my son died the year before last, not a
few months ago, not this year or even last year, but the year before
last? He will never live in this year. Will they even
listen, should I not look them in the eyes, for fear that I shall
see, "Why is she still crying? It happened so long ago. It was
the year before last." Those words that we use to describe the
passage of time, a few months, this year, last year, the year before
last. They don't know that time stands still for me. Will
they understand that's why I cry? Don't they know my son just
died...the year before last?
Newsletters and Tears
Jeff Johnson, TCF, Cape Fear Chapter, Wilmington, NC
One cries as he is writing his feelings.
Another cries when they read the article.
Another cries when they select the article for their newsletter.
Tears of sorrow and understanding...You are not alone.
Char, Billings, MT
After all the reading I've done since John has died, I now
believe he started getting sick when he was in the middle
grades at school. We had just moved from a small town
living on a ranch (much to our children's dismay) to what we
all thought was a very large city. Jobn started isolating
himself from everyone. We discussed John's behavior a
number of times with his school counselors. They all told
us he would snap out of it, he was just having trouble
adjusting. After two years John seemed to be getting
somewhat better. He had made a few friends and was
socializing again. About that time John's dad and I went
through a divorce and of our four children John seemed to
be the one who had the hardest time accepting it. I believe
that is when John started drinking. That is when I first
became aware of John's deep depression. Again we consulted
his school counselors and they again told us there was
nothing to worry about. But it seems from that time on John
was drinking every weekend. It was at that time John got
his first DUI and was in and out of outpatient treatment
for alcohol, but no one was blaming his depression as a
reason for his drinking. Sometime during this period John
had an accident, running into a telephone pole, coming home
late one night. I was to learn a few years later that John
had told his sister he had done this deliberately.
Everything seemed to go down hill for John the last six
months before he died. Sometime during this period is when
John got his fourth DUI. His company had sent him out of
state to work. It scared me at that time with John being so
far away from family and friends. I knew John was very
depressed and having a hard time being out of state. I
received a call from John late on the night of September 6,
2002. He was in jail. John was very scared and very very
upset. He stated then that if he did not get out of jail he
would kill himself. This was not John's first threat and I
became very scared that he would do what he threatened. I
called down to the detention center where they were holding
him and spoke to one of the guards. I told him what John
had just stated to me, that John threatened suicide. The
guard informed me they had no holding cells for prisoners
that threatened suicide. I became very worried about John
and knew we had to get him out of that jail as soon as
possible. The next day we bonded John out and brought him
home. I contacted a counselor John had been seeing for his
alcohol problem and told him of John's incarceration and
his suicide threat. He stated he wanted to see John as soon
as John got back into town. As far as I know and remember
John did see his counselor from September to November.
During these months John again threatened suicide a number
We could see John was losing a lot of weight and became
very depressed. November 11 he agreed to go to the
emergency room with his sister and dad because of suicidal
thoughts. John was checked in and waited a long time to see
a doctor. He became very frustrated and walked out before
being examined by any doctor. John's sister called his
counselor and told him what had occurred the night before.
I also called and consulted with his counselor. I told
John's counselor we would like to have a family meeting
with him without John being present. I, John's dad and
John's sister did meet with John's counselor and we all
told him how terribly scared we were about John and asked
him for HELP. We told him we did not know where to turn for
help and what we could do to help John. WE WERE ASKING HIM
FOR GUIDANCE AND HELP.
John's counselor did not give us any ideas but told us that
he had an appointment with John that very afternoon and
would evaluate John's mental state. After John's
appointment I contacted his counselor once again and was
told by John's counselor that he was not concerned and John
seemed to be doing okay. I still felt there was something
very wrong with my son but trusted his judgment. John had
one more appointment with his counselor on November 18,
2002. John died NOVEMBER 20, 2002. What little hope John
had vanished, he tried to reach out for help, he received
NONE. We as a family trusted the healthcare system but it
failed completely with our son.
I am telling my son's story in hopes of helping others and
also because I do not want John's life to be in vain. John
reached out the only way he knew how and found only CLOSED
doors. I truly believe he could have been saved.
Since John's death I have become very involved in the
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention as an advocate
for CHANGE. I also give classes on QPR (Question, Persuade
and Refer) and am a facilitator for a Suicide Survivor
Support Group. I want and need to make changes. I DO THIS