I reflected on the David Johnson Show the time I thought of “calling it a day” I was so angry I was calm. I remember trying to recollect if it was true you poop your pants when you die. Then thinking about and how long it would take to find me. Luckily for me, I decided to pass on this notion. Many people do not stop at this point. They decide that it is the day that they will end the struggle. I know exactly where you are, you are at the point where you thought that people would be there for you and here you are; nobody. Your plans and good ideas have been exhausted. The world pretty much avoids you….and you are done. Fuck it! Fuck this! I was on an airplane to D.C. recently and thought to myself, I am so glad I decided not to quit on myself. I am a lot of things to a lot of people and the one thing that is common to all—everyone is needed.
Like most aggressive Soldiers in the military, I found myself in anger management classes. I cannot remember the section this block of instruction was in, but the concept was called “stress response” this was a life-altering discovery for me. It basically identified the exact moment someone makes you angry. When you take that extra second to identify what is happening, you can collect your thoughts and make better choices. Most people who can not control their anger act on impulse.
I stated on the show that relationships seem to be the #1 reason people chose to end their lives. Just my observations from memorials I coordinated. After the service member dies the unit goes through a huge production that starts with notification of next of kin and ends with a memorial service. Each time I stood up an Emergency Operation Center to coordinate and track the progress of all the key events. Soldiers should take updating their next of kin information sheets seriously but depending on the leadership it can vary. I have sheets that have “your momma” “mickey mouse” and a few colorful other folks.
Let me introduce a splash of truth. We must be available to each other in the darkest moments. Everyone has their piece of obligation. As troops we must be strong enough to ask for help and as friends and family, we need be available to assist. Honestly, we just like to say call me any time. After dinner we cut our phones to mute and we do not see them until the next day. What we really mean is you can call during business hours and after that good luck. We do not like to be inconvenienced at all. It also makes the person needing help feel like a burden. Then it happens— hopelessness is established and its all bad after that. The most dangerous person in the world is a person who has legitimately ran out of hope and is tired.
There is hope. I believe leaders are being trained to identify high-risk personnel who potentially have the intent and capability to yield adverse actions. It all comes down to engagement on and off duty. When you interact with people and show interest in their daily lives it creates an environment to identify early signs or ideations. I do not want you to think I am assigning this to leaders only. Everyone needs to be vigilant of signs.