The Year Before Last
Author unknown
The holiday 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.

John's Story
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 of times.

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 FOR JOHN.