Thursday, July 25, 2013

My Husband Committed Suicide {Guest Post By Ricci McConnell-Hegland}

{Guest post by Ricci McConnell-Hegland}

(Click HERE for Ricci's Trades Of Hope Fundraiser)
(Click HERE to contribute to suicide prevention and awareness)

Three words I thought I would never have to say at such a young age, and such a short but great marriage are,

"I'm a widow."

However at the age of 26 and only 3.5 years of a marriage under us, those are exactly the words I have to say.

My husband vanished without a trace on December 22nd, 2012. For months we held hope that he was somewhere, either not in his right state of mind or in his right state of mind and just, for whatever reason, didn't want to do the family thing anymore.

On May 24th the detective working the case wanted to come over and talk. He had something to show me. I knew right after he got off the phone with me that the news wasn't good.

My heart fell to my stomach where I felt like it was caught with the net of knots that was in it.

The detective came over.
He had Matthew’s laptop bag in his hands.
I knew right away it was his.
I identified it.

And then the news.

The horrible, no good news that no wife ever wants to hear:
"Did you hear about the body that was found on the 22nd? I'm so sorry to tell you this, Ricci. And I wish it was different, but it's been confirmed that the body was Matt's."

I did the first natural thing: 
I cried, and cried, and cried some more.

I felt numb, like I was living in a dream. 
I knew when I woke up that none of this was going to be true.

Unfortunately, I was not living a dream but a waking nightmare.

I was numb for a while.
And pissed off at God!
How could he let this happen?
Why didn't he send someone to stop Matt?
Did God have to be so selfish to take my husband?
Did he not know how many people would be hurt and lost without him?
How dare he let this happen!

A couple weeks later, someone asked me if I had heard about the guy who was going to jump off the bridge, but was grabbed by a police officer. And even before that, had been talked to by a passerby about not jumping. I was upset that this guy was saved. 

What did he have that Matt didn't?

You see, my husband was not murdered. He did not die of a natural causes. My husband was so emotionally disturbed and hurt that he decided the best thing to do was to take his own life. You see, my husband decided to jump from a bridge, which is why I was so upset when I heard that the guy was saved.

To be honest, I know suicide is out there. I know people do it. But I had not thought about it since I tried taking my own life when I was a teenager.

Not many people know that, as a teen, I was a cutter. I finally had had enough and I was going to end my life. I was not going to leave a message for my family. I was just going to do it. 

However, I never got the chance. My best friend at the time actually walked in, grabbed the knife, and told my mom what she had seen. At that time, I did not know why I was saved.

I knew my husband was struggling, but I did not know he was depressed. He hid it pretty well, so I thought. I do look back every now and again and wonder if some of the things my husband did before his death were his own way of showing his hurts. Despite my husband's suicide and how some people may think he is a coward, he is not. My husband was the family man, the friend, the husband, etc.. He will always be known as that kind of man.

In all truth, but sadness, did you know that the number one cause for suicide is untreated depression? 80% of people that seek treatment for depression are treated successfully.
However, we live in a world where people are so afraid to tell someone that they are suffering because of what others may say or think of them. We live in a world where over half of all suicides occur in adult men, ages 25-65. The reason for that is we live in a society where the majority of men are taught to be the tough guy-- Don't show your weaknesses. Men are taught to be afraid to say they need help.

As I look back on Matt's life, I can safely say that no matter how much I loved him or was there for him, no matter what, society won because I am sure that Matt had to have been suffering some way and he did not want to share with anyone, not even me. So he carried all that pain and suffering by himself.

People who commit suicide are in so much pain that they just want it to stop and at that moment in time, they do what they know is going to end their pain. However, what they fail to see is the pain they leave behind for everyone else.

Did you know that in the US a person dies by suicide every 13.7 minutes, claiming more than 38,000 lives each year? Yes 38,000! It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute, with close to one million people attempting suicide annually. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S. among adults 18-65, the second leading cause of death among teens and young adults, and individuals ages 65 and older account for 16 percent of all suicide deaths.

I know some of you reading this are probably thinking, "Well, there is nothing I can do." That is where you're wrong! With that many people committing suicide each year, it is a safe bet to say that anyone you know could be suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts.

Wondering what you can do? Glad you asked! If you think someone is suicidal, begin a dialogue by asking questions. Suicidal thoughts are common with some mental illnesses and your willingness to talk about it in a non-judgmental, non-confrontational way can be the help a person needs to seek professional help.

Questions that are okay to ask:
"Do you ever feel so badly that you think about suicide?"
"Do you have a plan to commit suicide or take your life?"
"Have you thought about when you would do it (today, tomorrow, next week)?"
"Have you thought about what method you would use?"

Asking these questions will help you to determine if your friend or family member is in immediate danger, and get help if needed.

A suicidal person should see a doctor or mental health professional immediately. Calling 911 or going to a hospital emergency room are also good options to prevent a tragic suicide attempt or death. Calling the National Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) is also a resource for you or the person you care about for help.

Remember, always take thoughts of or plans for suicide seriously. Don't try to minimize problems or shame a person into changing their mind. Your opinion of a person's situation is irrelevant. Trying to convince a person suffering with a mental illness that 'it's not that bad,' or that they 'have everything to live for,' may only increase their feelings of guilt and hopelessness. Reassure them that help is available, that what they are experiencing is treatable, and that suicidal feelings are temporary. Life can get better!

If you have thoughts of suicide, these options are available to you: Dial: 911 Dial: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) Check yourself into the emergency room. Call your local crisis agency. Tell someone who can help you find help immediately. Stay away from things that might hurt you. Most people can be treated with a combination of antidepressant medication and psychotherapy. 

If You Don't Have Insurance, The following options might be used: Go to the nearest hospital emergency room. Look in your local Yellow Pages under Mental Health and/or Suicide Prevention; then call the mental health organizations/crisis phone lines that are listed. There may be clinics or counseling centers in your area operating on a sliding or no-fee scale. Some pharmaceutical companies have "Free Medication Programs" for those who qualify.

Earlier, I stated I was angry with God. I mean, how could it be that He took my husband and left me with three young kids to raise on my own? I can honestly say that, yes, at times I am still angry, hurt, upset, sad. But all these feelings are normal. They are okay. I can also truthfully say that I am not angry with God. I am just angry with the situation. 

As silly as it may sound to some people, I am grateful for the Lord. He embraced my husband I know that my husband is no longer in pain, he is no longer suffering, or hurting in any kind of way, and knowing that makes me smile. It makes me happy. In fact, I picture my husband telling the Lord that he is ready and the Lord telling him, "It's all going to be okay."

I know there will be tough days and I know that there are going to be days where I don't feel like going on. But with the love and support of my friends, family, and God, I can go on.

At first I blamed myself for Matt's suicide. If only I could have been a better wife, seen the signs, met him after work the day he went missing like I was supposed to, none of this would have happened. But now I know it's not my fault. It's no one's fault. I do not blame Matt or hate him for doing this. I love him just as much as I did the day I first fell in love with him. 

I do not think he was selfish. In fact, I think he was being selfless. My kids will know how great of a dad their father was and his memory will live on, no matter what.

I also stated earlier that back when I was a teenager I did not know why I got to live. But as life went on, I knew why: It was to be a wife, a mother, a friend, and now an advocate.

Ever since I was okay with saying, "My husband committed suicide," I have had a calling to bring awareness to others about suicide and suicide prevention. I am sad that my husband is gone and he will be truly missed. But I am excited and ready for the next chapter. The chapter where I get to take my horrifying story and help someone else. The chapter where I can tell others that, as crappy as life may seem, there are people here for them.

I thank you for reading this and I hope you have gained some knowledge on suicide.
To everyone out there, if no one has told you lately, you are loved!

I love you, everything about you, flaws and all. 

Ricci McConnell-Hegland is a stay at home mom to three, who is learning to embrace God's love and embark on a new life of being both mom and dad. 

"It's a crazy gig, but someone's gotta do it!"

Ricci's Blog: When Life Gets Rough

American Foundation For Suicide Prevention 

By Genevieve West