The genetic flaw that leads some to suicidal thoughts and the need for families to be open about it

When I was 13 years old, I was abruptly taken to my grandma’s apartment with no explanation. I stayed there about five days and then my mom picked me up and took me home. Nothing was ever said for nearly 40 years about those five days until one day in 2003 when my mom abruptly told me the “rest of the story” as I drove her to one of her countless medical appointments.

My dad was an alcoholic. In 1966 he was about to lose his dream job with the Postal Service because he showed up to work drunk, called off when he had a hangover and did not do his job right much of the time. He was called into his supervisor’s office and told that one more incident would mean his immediate termination. Finally something shook him up, but not in a good way.

Unbeknownst to my mom, my dad emptied their checking and savings accounts and disappeared. After many frantic calls, it was discovered he had driven to Minnesota (his home state) and was out on a drinking binge with his brothers. Word soon reached my mom that my dad was planning to kill himself near his childhood home.

My mom had no car and no money for my dad had taken both. She had to borrow money from my brother and take a bus to Minnesota, praying all the while she would not be too late. With the help of her sister-in-law, they found the spot my dad had gone to end his life. He was so intoxicated he could barely talk, and he angrily told my mom to leave and let him put an end to his miserable existence.

My dad bounced from one job to another all his life. He could be an excellent salesman but his drinking always got him in trouble and ultimately fired. When he got the job working for the Postal Service in 1957 it was the greatest moment of his life. Finally, at 43 years of age, he had a regular job with a guaranteed weekly check. That is why when he was told “one more incident”, it drove him off the edge of sanity and prompted him to try and end his life.

Amazingly, my mom and sister-in-law talked my dad into putting the weapon down. He crumpled into a pathetic heap and cried in my mom’s arms for nearly 30 minutes. Once sober, he and my mom drove back to Kansas with a secret known only to them, my brother and his sister-in-law. Incredibly, this secret remained in a secure lockbox until my mom shared it with me 38 years later.

It has been said that things like suicidal thoughts run in families. I spent a lot of time with a man back in 2006 whose dad and only brother had both committed suicide. Sure enough, this man killed himself just a few months ago. Interestingly, one of his sons has already tried to commit suicide three times and he is just 24 years old.

With all of my heart I wish my mom would have shared the story of what happened with my dad long before when she did. Perhaps it would have helped me be more aware of a potential fiery dart and thus motivate me to work at keeping my defenses strong. I have come to learn that some secrets should be kept locked up to protect those involved, but there are other secrets (especially family secrets) that need to be brought out in the open so the members of the family can become stronger.

Looking back, I see now how the enemy used a genetic weak point that I didn’t even know existed, to open the door to the ordeal I went through in 1984. Thankfully God interceded and put an end to both the event and the weak point. I pray that we always look past the outward ugliness of what a suicidal person is doing to see WHY they are doing it. Many times a weak link will be found that points back to a genetic flaw that perhaps, like me, the person did not even know existed.

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