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Suicide: A Loss of All Hope
Written By: Mark Smith

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Mooresville, IN - Quiet but hard-working, Loretta McClain was looking ahead to track season and saving her lunch money for college. Instead, the 16-year-old Mooresville High School student died Monday in a shallow creek that winds through farmland northeast of here. . . . About a dozen containers of prescription medicine were found near the body. . . . Hendricks County Coroner Steve Matthews said the death is being investigated as a suicide.

The Indianapolis News 2-9-93

Kokomo police SWAT members found a 47-year-old man fatally shot inside his home late Friday after police were called to his home on a report that he had threatened to commit suicide. Timothy McFarland . . . was found shot when police entered the home.

Kokomo Tribune 1-3-04

Died - Race walker Albert Heppner, who apparently committed suicide after failing to qualify for the U.S. Olympic team . . . . Said Curt Clausen, who won the Feb. 15 race, "This is impossible to understand."

Sports Illustrated Feb

This is a subject that nobody wants to talk or even think about. Suicide is the most powerfully impacting act known to man. It reverberates its shattering pain, violence and abandonment through families for many generations to come. It is the ultimate abandonment. This article is a letter aimed at the hearts of those of you who have a secret-those of you who plan to take your life someday. I know that there are more of you out there than any of us want to believe. My message to you is simple-don't do it. Don't do it. Let me help you find some hope for living.

Loretta was very quiet and reserved as a 13-year-old during her two counseling sessions with me in 1990. She was determined to not open up. The fear that many troubled people have is that if they open up their Pandora's box of sadness, they would never ever stop crying. Loretta had a quiet confidence about her, like she knew something that nobody else knew. She drew this portrait of herself not long before her suicide. You may not be able to see it, but in the shaded, dark side of her face there is a knowing look in her eyes. She had a secret. She had already chosen her path away from her family's pain and shame.

Timothy McFarland was one of my boyhood heroes. He was a 4-year starter at point guard for the Kokomo Wildcats. He was quiet, confident, good-looking and highly talented. He was the big man on campus. He was Kokomo's 70's version of Steve Alford or Damon Bailey-the All-American golden boy. I once saw him win a tournament game with a full court behind the back pass! How in the world could that gifted young hero be transformed into the 47-year-old man described above? For whatever reason, he had lost his hope and his reasons for living.

The article in Sports Illustrated said the following about race walker Albert Heppner's final race: "Heppner, 29, finished fifth . . . even though he held a two-minute lead 30 kilometers into the race. After fading dramatically ("I just started falling apart," he said later. "I've never crashed like I did today"), Heppner collapsed at the finish and was taken by stretcher to the holding area. . . ." The combination of intense physical fatigue, numbing emotional exhaustion, and the shame of losing, led to a deadly condition in this world class athlete-a loss of perspective and hope.

Losing hope is a deadly condition. Through the years as I've interviewed many suicidal clients, they have consistently indicated to me that their greatest hope is simply that their pain would go away if they took their own lives. In consulting with an old client of mine about his struggles with suicidal thoughts, he shared that his most painful feeling was a sense of inner confusion and the hopelessness that came from feeling that there was no escape from it. He wrote that "my solution was to tell myself that this too shall pass and tomorrow I will feel different." Your tomorrow can be so much better. In this article I will share with you six solid, tangible forces in life that can help you have a much better hope for tomorrow than just the escape of suicide.

#1 Have Hope In Therapy. No emotional wound is beyond healing. Find a caring and competent therapist, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Don't let your issues kill you. If you do, then your abusive father, your abandoning alcoholic mother or your unfaithful spouse will have defeated you completely. I know that facing your pain is terrifying. Let a caring therapist hold your hand and walk you through the pain. Let them wipe away your tears. Therapy really can heal your pain.

#2 Have Hope In God. God is real. It might sound trite, but He does love you. He desperately wants for you to live. He is constantly reaching out to you. He wants for you not only to have life, but also to have a happy and blessed life. Let Him show you where to go for help. He can heal you and He can forgive you for anything that you have ever done. Pour your heart out to Him. Let Him love you. He desperately wants to help you.

#3 Have Hope In Your Family. There is love even in the meanest and most abusive of families. Someone in your family loves you. They are your family. Let someone know what you are thinking about. They need you. Don't leave them in such an abrupt and violent way. If you have children, then you really have already forfeited your option to avoid your pain via suicide. It would shatter your children more than you can ever imagine if their source of hope, guidance, love and protection abandons them in the worst way possible. They would not be better off without you. In response to my request for feedback from a client of mine who suffers from suicidal thoughts, I received the following thoughts: "I can only tell you why I inevitably choose to refrain from actually doing the deed. The first deals with my sense of responsibility. I would rather not have the responsibility, even in death, for the pain and bewilderment in my friends, family and therapist's life by choosing to commit suicide. . . . Maybe what I am trying to say is that a person that is contemplating suicide has obviously given up hope in themselves; maybe having hope and faith in another's existence is enough to keep them alive."

#4 Have Hope In Community. If you are isolated, then reach out for some help from the people around you. Go to a church and join a small group or a Sunday school class. If you open up and share your pain, you will soon be surrounded by a swarm of caring and praying new friends. Join a therapy group or a self-help group. People helping people has proven to be the most powerful form of therapy available. Suicide happens in social isolation, shame and secrecy. Please open up and let someone know what kind of pain you are in. It could save your life.

#5 Have Hope In Yourself. You do have skills, abilities, passions, positive traits, hopes and dreams. Don't let go of them. Fight for them. Fight for your life. The world is definitely a much better place with you in it. There are so many wonderful reasons to keep on living, but you'll have to find out what your reasons are. You are like the race walker I mentioned-so beaten with exhaustion, defeat and depression that you aren't seeing the reality of your situation. You are unique, you are valuable and you are truly special. Don't give up on you.

#6 Have Hope In Your Doctor. There are many wonderful, highly effective new medications out there. One of them could save your life. Your system needs a jump-start immediately. Getting on medication is nothing to be ashamed of; millions of people do so. You need to get it in your system right away.

Loretta, Timothy and Albert lost all hope. It cost them their very precious lives. Please, please learn from their stories. Don't let your story end in tragedy too. You would be surprised how much better you will feel to just talk about your pain and hopelessness to another human being. Let's get you on some powerful and healing medication right away. There is so much to live for. Let us help you beat hopelessness and suicide.

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This article was authored by Family Tree Counseling Associates, a marriage, individual and family counseling center serving the Indianapolis, Carmel, Fishers, Westfield and Noblesville communities in Indiana. If you would like to contact us, please fill out a contact us form or call us at 317-844-2442.
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