Honoring National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month together

By R. Hans Miller, News Editor
Posted 9/12/21

The first time I thought about killing myself, I was in the fourth grade.

A group of girls in my class had decided I needed a good bullying and, while redheads may be popular now, we were …

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Honoring National Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month together

Posted

The first time I thought about killing myself, I was in the fourth grade.

A group of girls in my class had decided I needed a good bullying and, while redheads may be popular now, we were considered gross at the time. Not sure why. “South Park’s” Gingervitis episode hadn’t even come out yet. These girls would walk by during recess and ask if I’d be their boyfriend and I’d say no. In response, they’d say something along the lines of “Good, because you’re just a nasty redhead.”

Add to that the German boy in my class who somehow had been around enough English folks to learn the use of the term “ginger” as a pejorative and the subsequent playground beatings I got from him and life was pretty rough for me in Clinton, Montana in 1984. We won’t even talk about how math was just the worst…

Those issues and several others took me to a very dark place that nobody, especially a child in the fourth grade, should ever have to face. But I did.

And – I know many people reading did too – and some probably are now.

Since that first time I faced suicidal thoughts, I’ve had a long and twisted relationship with depression and anxiety. A relationship I still work with today with the support of a loving wife, family and friends. I see my psychologist regularly, take my meds and have tools from years of counseling that help me manage when things look bleak.

Recently, a close family member attempted suicide. He tried jumping out of a window but, fortunately, someone who cared about him interceded. Additionally, a friend of my wife’s from high school died from suicide in early August and multiple friends have spoken about their depression recently, including some facing suicidal ideation.

As a veteran I have known several of those I served with who have died at their own hands after fighting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other mental health challenges after facing combat.

As a nation, the U.S. has a worsening suicide problem according to the United Health Foundation’s 2020 Annual Report. In 2009, the suicide rate was 12 per 100,000 people. In 2018, that number had increased to 14.8 per 100,000.

Texas ranked second in the number of deaths by suicide in the U.S. in 2019 with 3,891 Texans losing the fight with depression and hopelessness, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which monitors that data nationally. That was about 13.4 deaths per 100,000 people.

In Greater Houston, that statistic is a bit better at 10.6 suicides per 100,000 from 2017-19, according to Houstonstateofhealth.com. That’s an increase of about 0.4 per 100,000 compared to the previous two-year measurement.

With the pandemic, economic hardships and the ever-changing atmosphere of living in an area that grows rapidly and consistently, observing Suicide Prevention Month is an important thing for the Katy area to do as a community.

I don’t feel any shame in my depression or past fights with suicide. I’ve won every battle in the war for more than 30 years now, so I take that as a point of pride. I am proud to have walked through those fires and made it through.

I invite anyone facing those same troubles to stand beside me with that same pride. We’re strong as hell and we’ve faced our demons. If your depression is attacking you, speak with someone and ask for help. Family, friends, doctors, counselors, pastors, rabbis, imams and a million others will happily raise you up and help you keep moving forward and find happiness again.

There’s no shame in asking for the help you need. Ever. For anything.

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