“That suicide is painless
It brings on many changes
And I can take or leave it if I please”
-Johnny Mandel, “Suicide is Painless”
Painless? Well, perhaps for the person committing suicide, as a final solution, after the act is completed. But the journey to complete the act is torturous for the victim of suicide. The carnage that the victim of suicide leaves behind for their family and friends is visceral and brutal. I speak from experience.
My father, George Allen Ingmire, was a veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. He served our country honorably in both wars. In fact, at the age of 16, he had an uncle sign him into the Navy a few days after the attack on Pearl Harbor. For the last couple of years of his life he became a Game Warden on a military base installation in Norfolk, VA, where I grew up.
My father taught me to love music and to love animals. I actually saw him nurse a bobcat (that had been injured in a trap) back to health. He had an uncanny affinity with animals that he passed on to me. His time as a game warden may have been some of the happiest days of his life.
On December 27, 1965, while traveling to work, my father was a murder victim. He was killed by a tow truck driver who had a fight with his girlfriend. This man had left a suicide note stating that he was going to “Run into the first thing he saw on Shore drive.” My father was driving on Shore Drive when he was hit head-on by this individual’s car. They were both killed instantly.
I have never forgiven the man who took my father from me. No different than a terrorist. However, my years of experience have allowed me to understand this disturbed individual’s darkness a bit more. The first time I read the term “murder-suicide,” I was reading a newspaper account of my father’s death. I was eight years old.
After years of depression and several suicide attempts, my brother, George Allen Ingmire II, shot himself in a hotel room on September 14, 1996. The location was about three blocks from that of my father’s death. My brother and father had very similar personalities and had their personal struggles with this thing called life. My brother George was almost a father figure to me and we shared many interests in literature and music. My brother supported my creative efforts with his love and guidance. My brother was also a military veteran of the Vietnam era.
For about four years after my brother’s death, I bore a palpable anger and suffered from depression. I worked a job, wrote many songs, including some directly about my brother’s death, and self-medicated. The songs helped, the self-medication did not.
It was only through one-on-one therapy, participation in suicide survivors groups, and the love of family and friends that allowed me to survive a very dark period in my life.
I was scorched, but I remained intact. Ultimately, my marriage to an outstanding woman, my religious faith, and my music allowed me to come out whole. But I think about my brother almost every day.
I always told my brother, during his darkest days, “Life is an adventure, even if it is a bad one.” I wish he had listened.
In March 2014, I was writing opinion pieces for foxnews.com. and discussing my experiences with suicide with my Opinion Editor, Lynne Jordal Martin. I was encouraged to write an Op-Ed about surviving the suicide of a loved one. It was re-printed in September 2014 and September 2015. With Ms. Martin’s kind permission, I am including a link to that article here. I hope that some of the advice I gave helps those with similar experiences: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2015/09/10/world-suicide-prevention-day-when-your-loved-one-commits-suicide.html
September is Suicide Awareness Month. September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.
Every day should be Suicide Prevention Day.
Never be afraid to step in when a loved one or a friend discusses committing suicide. Sadly sometimes, it is not enough. My family did everything possible to assist my brother.
What is concerning to me is the increase in the suicide rate that is happening among our women, our young people, and our military veterans.
Coming from a military family, the rise in the rate of suicide among veterans is horrifying and the lack of care they are receiving is inexcusable. Additionally, there needs to be a better mental health care system in our country. Obama care has only made matters worse. The mental health care system in America is only one step removed from Bethlem Royal Hospital. This 19th century London mental hospital was better known as “Bedlam,” the subject of many horror films. Those who suffer from mental illness deserve better.
Our men and women in the military are receiving substandard mental and physical health care. On the campaign trail, as there is every four years, there is a lot of rhetoric about caring for our vets. Our military personnel need more than words. They need action. Consider that when entering the voting booth in November.
Maybe the 2016 election will change some things. Currently, according to the website military.com, Trump leads Clinton 55% to 36% among voters that previously served in the U.S. military. I believe that Trump does truly care about our veterans. He has put his time and money where his mouth is. Clinton has helped to pass some inconsequential legislation and panders to voters. Vets are votes to Clinton, nothing more.
But let us revisit the brokenhearted and the disheartened. For those considering completing the act of suicide, please heed my words: Don’t do it! You will never imagine how important you are to those that love you. You will never know how much your suicide will haunt your family and friends. Please reach out. Sometimes help is only a prayer or a phone call away.
For those who have suffered the loss of a family member or a friend to suicide. You are not alone, help is out there. Many cities have survivors of suicide groups. I urge you to seek them out. Respect the life of your loved one. Even if you cannot honor the method of their death. Cherish the next breath. Even in the face of the fallacies of this life.