So when you think about those who commit suicide, most people, myself included, picture a loner. Even one who maintains an outwardly “normal” life, you still assume they are loners. Just doing what they have to to get by. You picture them alone in their room, drinking bottle after bottle, smoking, crying, shaking. You picture someone who is out of shape, their life a mess. You wouldn’t picture an athletic, outgoing, person. You wouldn’t picture someone who spent their time volunteering to go half way around the world to Haiti or to any other place that needed him for humanitarian causes. You wouldn’t picture an attractive 20 something who had survived hell and back. I wouldn’t have anyway. I learned on April 1st that Clay Hunt had committed suicide. I prayed it was a horrible horrible joke or a prank.
I cannot honestly say I knew Clay beyond our time together in Washington DC during the great blizzard that was literally, and figuratively, Storm the Hill. I went there feeling like a troubled person, emotionally, and saw him as such a strong person. I knew he was going to be okay. I questioned if I would be okay, but I KNEW he was going to be. After all, he was everything that I should be if I wanted to make it out alive. He had goals, dreams. He was outgoing and had such a good and uplifting air about him. He spoke confidently and everything he did was with purpose and confidence. He had family support as well as a popular member of IAVA. He had a lot of friends it seemed. He had a personality that would lead you to assume that if something troubled him, he would have at least a handful of people to confide in. He spoke on suicide prevention and reached out to other veterans who needed him. Why didn’t he reach out?
I was surprised at how Clay’s suicide has impacted me. Considering we never spoke after Washington, I am really surprised. I lay awake at night thinking about what was going on when he made that choice. Was it a choice that he made? Had someone failed him? Had the VA failed him? Ultimately it was he who held the gun. Not the VA, not his friends or his parents. I can get that far, but then there is a road block in my head. How could this have happened? What does this mean for the rest of us? Does this mean that suicide is just how we will die? Is it like a cancer? You can treat and treat and treat, but this is your fate? I am so disheartened by it and am struggling to find a reason to continue with things like schooling. What does it matter? It won’t help me like I assumed it would. I thought if I went to school and found a job that gave me a sense of purpose, that I would be okay. But that isn’t true at all. I don’t know what’s true any more. Clay told his family the same thing I tell mine, and I believe that HE believed it the way I do… That he would NEVER commit suicide because he wouldn’t want to put his family through that pain. So why did he do it? That’s exactly how I feel. I couldn’t imagine doing that to myself, but apparently neither did he, and yet he did it.
So my question to my readers is this: What makes people safe from suicide?