A very hard week.

Cameron black and white

Hey everybody. I was working on a different post for this week but it was sidelined when our family got hit with a devastating event.  The hubster’s nephew, an extraordinary, loving, and gifted young man, took his own life Sunday night and everything since then has been aftermath.  His parent’s did everything conceivable to get him help and prevent this from happening but in the end his illness overpowered all the rest.  My mind is whirling with all the things that could and should be said about what’s happened…the desperate need for people to be more aware of how profound a danger this is to our children, the desperate need for everyone to be more willing to talk about suicide instead of hiding from it, the desperate need for better funding for our hotlines and mental health infrastructure and suicide education for the school staff who often serve as first line of defense, and the desperate need to break down the current stigmas associated with mental illness…but for today I’m still too heartbroken.

Here’s a link to Cam’s obituary that just came out today. If you’d like you can take a moment to read it and, in your heart, celebrate the beautiful life of someone who did tremendous good and helped a lot of other kids during the short time he was here, and perhaps say a prayer for him and all those who loved him, it would be more deeply appreciated than you know.  His parents felt very strongly that his cause of death should not be hidden or spun in this notice of his death as they know…better than most now…just how critical it is for all of us to start talking about this more openly.  This from the obit:

“But through all the laughter, Cam suffered from depression. He tried to disguise his pain and put to use the deep empathy, love, and compassion generated from his own life’s survival experiences to help as many other people as he could. In the end, he took his own life but he would have wanted everyone to know it was not the outcome he longed for.” 

I can’t begin to tell you how unbelievably brave his parents have been or how, even in the midst of their own devastation, their concern for the many, many other kids reeling from this loss has been uppermost in their minds.  There was a prayer vigil the other night that Cam’s dad helped organize where four or five hundred kids and parents showed up to grieve and sing and tell stories and also talk openly about suicide and the things we can do to watch and help one another to prevent this from happening again.  Everyone in that hall wanted to know.  Everyone there wanted to hear it discussed openly.  The kids especially needed the evening to help them understand and try to come to grips with what’s happened, and the way they came together and were holding and supporting and loving one another through their grief was one of the most extraordinary and moving things I’ve ever witnessed.  They’re so much stronger and courageous and wise, our children, than we tend to believe.  We grown-ups owe it to them to face into our own terrors and finally stop hiding from this.

But enough.  Today I just wanted to say I love you all, even if I don’t know you, and I can’t tell you how glad and grateful I am that you’re out there right now and still alive.  Because that one simple thing gives me more hope than you can possibly imagine. Really love one another today and reach out to someone nearby just because you still can, and do something kind or make someone smile because thats how Cam used to live every single day and why, even with all the turbulence right now, the most lasting legacy of his life will ultimately be one of laughter, love, compassion, and song.

Important links for those considering suicide or those who know someone having suicidal thoughts:

NAMI (National Alliance On Mental Illness)

List of National Suicide Hotlines (Scroll down a few inches to list)

 

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Suicide in Ohio results in the death of dozens of exotic animals.

What a tragedy.

I just learned that a man in Ohio who kept a large number of wild animals as pets, turned them all loose late yesterday afternoon before turning a gun on himself.  The carnage continued from there.  Witnesses called in sightings of roaming lions, tigers, wolves, and bears, after which local law enforcement, with consultation from the Columbus Zoo and other agencies, were given the order to shoot on sight.

As of this writing, the majority of the dozens of wild animals the troubled man set free are now dead.  Of course it could have been even worse.  Additional innocent bystanders in the area, both human and animal, might have easily added to the count.  I’m grateful…I really am…that the ripples of this bloodbath were stopped before they could spread any farther.  But I’m still sobered and deeply saddened by this unspeakable waste of life.

And also…uneasy.

There are clear signs that suicide rates are on the rise since the recession began.  Yet, even while the levels of economic stress and fear are heightening instability, federal and state funding for mental health (which was nowhere near enough to begin with) is now being slashed or eliminated entirely.  Needless to say this is not a promising combination.

IF YOU’RE CONSIDERING SUICIDE: Please, if you’ve wondered if it might stop the pain, or if those you love would be better off without you, or if you just feel so out there on the edge that you’re not sure you can take anymore, pleasebefore you take a last step that can never be undone, make at least one phone call; to a loved one or a friend or a hotline.  (I’ve listed some suicide hotline numbers below.)  If it doesn’t work, you haven’t lost anything by trying.  But if it does work…if, with some help, you’re able to find a way through the current darkness back to a life you love…then not only will you be safe but you’ll also have protected everything you care about most from any taste of the kind of carnage that happened in Ohio yesterday.

FOR FRIENDS OR LOVED ONES:  And if you’re worried about someone else, you can also call one of the numbers listed above.  Or click here for an excellent article with information on what to do if you think someone you know may be considering suicide.

With things as stressful as they are right now, and with the social safety net growing ever weaker, we need to look out for one another more than ever.  I realize the temptation is to get angry over what happened to these beautiful animals and look for someone to blame.  But it would probably do more good to look for others who are still in need of help instead.  Maybe we could prevent something like this from happening again.

My heart goes out to everyone surviving yesterday’s events; Mr.Thompson’s wife and family, their friends and neighbors, the police who were forced to shoot the innocent animals involved, the officials who had to make the difficult decisions, and the remaining animals who have to endure the trauma of loss, fear, confusion, dislocation, and possible euthanasia this has caused.  I wish everyone involved strength, clarity, and forgiveness in navigating the coming days.

SUICIDE HOTLINES:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:  In the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255

Veterans Suicide Hotline – Confidential Help for Veterans: Call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1     http://veteranscrisisline.net/

Or go to  http://suicidehotlines.com/ for a list of hotlines by state as well as a hotline for the deaf.