I am constantly reminded that the veterinary profession is suffering from the horrific epidemic of suicide. More than any other industry on our planet. Over the last two decades of consulting veterinarians and their teams, I have interviewed many people who are deeply hurting. Not only has it been painful to see so many of my colleagues struggling, I have so much empathy for each and every person I have had the honor to meet and have trusted me enough to share their personal stories of frustration, struggle, and despair. It’s the reason I dedicated my career to help veterinarians and their teams. No one should have to suffer as much as they do to care for animals.
The longer I live and the more people I encounter, I have come to realize that most people have experienced dysfunction and tragedy in their lives. I can say with absolute certainty, suicide is not the answer to relieving a person’s pain.
I know this because I am a victim of suicide. When I was 11, my mother divorced my father. She ended up marrying a veterinarian. Before I turned 13, both my brother and my father committed suicide within a three-week time period.
As much pain, hopelessness, and despair my brother and father must have felt when they chose to end their lives, it pales in comparison to the pain their actions placed in my heart for most of my life. As a young teenager, I was engulfed in deep sorrow and despair that words could never describe. The gaping hole in my heart created so many challenges as I grew into a young adult, a wife, a mother, and a career woman. I have suffered from feelings of abandonment, unworthiness, shame, and low self-esteem just to name a few. For many years, I had a reoccurring dream that my brother and father had faked their deaths and were living their lives away from me. It was traumatic, and I missed them terribly. My young mind couldn’t comprehend why they chose to end their lives.
Throughout the years, I have felt so much sadness about all of the important events they have missed. My brother and I never had the opportunity to be good friends—something I have watched so many siblings do once they become adults. While my mother’s husband, the veterinarian who is my dad now, was a life-saver to my mother and me in so many ways, I have truly missed my biological dad. He missed walking me down the aisle at my wedding. He and my brother missed getting to know my husband and my children. The love that only a father and a daughter can know and the relationship that only a sister and a brother can share were lost when I was 12 years old. Although time has healed my wounds, the emptiness I feel about losing them never leaves me.
Since their deaths and throughout my life, I have experienced dark times—times of total despair—and, for brief moments, I had thoughts of giving up like my brother and dad did. However, these thoughts have always been immediately crushed by the harsh reality of how it would affect the people I would leave behind. I would never put my family and friends through the pain and long suffering I have experienced as a victim of suicide.
I am not sharing my story to place guilt on anyone who is suffering right now. I am sharing my story because I want to shed light on the reasons suicide is not the answer to relieving our feelings of hopelessness, despair, and pain.
As an adult, I have been fervently committed to a healthy life. It hasn’t been easy. It has taken years of therapy, personal development, and faith in God. This tragedy could have swallowed me whole and resulted in mental illness, addiction, or worse—suicide. Instead, I chose to fight for my life and not allow this tragedy to define me. Instead, it has made me strong. My wish is that this story—my story—gives you hope.
If you are suffering, I want you to know that you are loved by so many people. They care about you. You are special. You are worthy of love and worthy of having a healthy life. I want to encourage you to fight for YOU. Ask for help. Trust me, there are so many people who want to help you. All you have to do is ask for it. If you or anyone you know are in a crisis, here are some resources that can help you:
Thank you for sharing this story.
Thank you Kirk. I felt the timing was right to share my story because we have to build awareness and let people know that suicide is not the answer.
Thanks Tracy! I work with a lot of mental health patients and they need to be reminded that suicide is NOT the answer!!
I never knew you were struggling with this history, even though we’ve known each other for years. Thank you for sharing and offering such personal reflections about this growing problem. Let’s hope more people will reach out because of your efforts before taking this final step.
All the best,
Thanks for your comments. Although my story is a tragic one, I have been open about it when it has been appropriate to share with friends and colleagues. I felt now was the time to go public and share my experience of being a victim of suicide. If my story can save one person’s life, it was worth sharing to the world. Suicide is not the answer. Love is the answer. We need more love in this profession.
Thank you so much for sharing some of your history with us. Learning other’s stories can be a lifeline for those who feel alone.
All the best.
Thanks Cindy. I agree!
Thanks for Sharing. I myself have dealt with thoughts of suicide due to depression and PTSD. I suffered a personal trauma after my father passed away. I was trying to hold two practices together and my personal life was a mess. It was too much and I had no desire to live and the only thing that kept me from suicide was my children and the fact that my therapist admitted me into a mental hospital. Today I’m well and have a better understanding of people struggling with mental illness and personal issues. God lead me out of my deep despair so I can help other people. He has placed people in my life that I could make a difference in their lives. One was a good friend of mine that I visited a state away from me and he was so desperate that he told me he was going to commit suicide that night if I hadn’t shown up to help him. We got him in a recovery program and a local sponsor. Today he is sober and doing well by God’s grace. I regularly serve in our church Celebrate Recovery program and I’m in a Christian Band that plays at Christian conferences. Sometimes when you’re at rock bottom and you feel like it’s the end. Keep hanging in there because God has a better plan for your life seek help and keep the faith.and Find a reliable sponsor who you trust and will not judge you but support and love you. Trust in God or a higher power. Blessings!
Thank you for sharing your very personal story. I am so grateful to know that you got the help you needed and your children still have their dad in their lives. You are courageous and trust me when I say your children are grateful for you and your decision to choose them over suicide. I hope your story and my story give others the inspiration to keep going and honor the struggle of life.