Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. Hashtags are made, inspiring pictures are shared, and hope is strong. On this day, we come together as a society and recognize that suicide is a serious issue.
On a day that my efforts are especially recognized, I still know the suicide I’m trying hardest to prevent is my own.
Much like an alcoholic, I still identify myself as someone with a problem. I still admit I’m at risk for suicidal behavior. I haven’t attempted suicide in nearly a decade. I haven’t felt the urge to end my life in a few years. I’ve quickly addressed and pushed through my spurts of depression. Yet, I recognize that deep in my psyche, there’s a risk.
I’ve recently become anxious about this risk as I look towards the future. I hope to graduate from American University in May. People ask me, “What will you do when you graduate” or “do you have a job lined up?” Even worse, they tell me, “I know you’ll do great things.”
This is tough to hear because it sounds a lot like the commentary I received as I exited the Marine Corps. I felt like I was set up for success. I had money in the bank, I had an impressive resume, and I had an plan of what I wanted to do. Or, so I thought. Like many veterans, I fell flat on my face.
Almost a year after I left the military I had lost my savings, only found jobs I didn’t like, and naturally became depressed. The year following that found me in debt, leaving a mutually disappointing relationship, and practically homeless.
I was in a very dark place.
So, as I look at my graduation from college and hear the same questions from people around me, I begin to worry. I’m worried history will repeat itself. What if it all happens again? What if I can’t find a job? Will that ruin my relationship? How long can I go without stability?
I really don’t want to kill myself.
I don’t want to experience all of that again and find myself without hope. I’m confident in my survival since I’ve been able to apply my own advice to my life.
A friend recently told me “your post-military work can almost be considered ‘heroic.’” That means a lot to me. Especially since a day like today, World Suicide Prevention Day, is just another day for Timothy Lawson and the 1, 2, Many: Veteran Suicide project. It’s just another day for creating understand and relaying a solution.
Yet, if you look behind the scenes of my attempts to save other people’s lives, you’ll find me still trying to save my own.