Category Archives: suicide

"The pain is too much. Please forgive me."

By Jack Smith

The desperate message scribbled on my wife’s bathroom mirror explains it as well as I can explain it, which isn’t very well at all.

“The pain is too much,” it read. “Please forgive me. I love ya’ll.”

More words were found on the facing mirror—the one a desperate man had stared into with sad eyes many times before that awful night of agony.

“Forgive me,” it read.  “I know not what I do.”

I’m told the police took photos before the friend who found me wiped the messages away. They also took my ipad, on which I somehow managed to type up a more personal note for my wife and three young children. It is too personal to share.

When I was found, I had been out for at least 12 hours. I had swallowed every sleeping pill in the house. Fists full of valium and every other drug I could get down, too. I even chugged a bottle of liquid pain medicine just to be sure. The psychiatrist told me it was a “lethal dose” of pills and alcohol, exactly the kind of mix that had killed many people.

Only it didn’t kill me.

The fact that I drank a bottle of pain reliever is both pitiful and ironic. Ironic because suicide wouldn’t have made my pain go away. It would have only multiplied it by 1,000 and given it to my loved ones—those who didn’t ask for their son, their brother, their husband or their dad to suffer from depression.

That’s how my friend who found me put it. He knows. Tears streaming down his face on our first visit after four days in the hospital, he told me that’s how he felt when his brother put a .357 magnum in his mouth and ended his pain 11 years earlier. He found him, too. And he’ll never get over it.

My friend thought I was dead when he finally got in the house. Pills were scattered on the bed and on the floor. A leg had broken off the coffee table, and the house looked like it had been robbed.

“Jack,” he recalls shouting at me as he shook my shoulders. “Jack! Jack!”

One eye opened, but my tongue was so thick he could barely make out my words. There were only mumbles as I drifted in and out of consciousness with an ambulance en route.

My friend had to slap me violently to try and keep me awake, which the paramedics recommended.

When they finally arrived, I’m told my vitals were strong but my heart rate was racing.
My breathing was compromised, though not stopped. The doctors said that explains the pneumonia that set it in soon after I left the hospital, a condition that only added to my misery.

Maybe pneumonia was a blessing. It made me rest and recover from the lowest point of my life, and I’ve had a lot of them battling depression.

Being bed ridden also restored my hope in people, all kinds of people who reached out with loving arms to my wife and my children, and to me.

I want to be clear here—I did not try to kill myself for attention. I tried to kill myself because I suffer from a mental illness that sucks the life of out me and, on my worst days, causes me to forget I have a lot to live for. On that night, it caused me to make some really bad choices that reason can’t explain.

I share this painful blog in hopes that it touches someone. I hope it causes one person to think twice or just ask for help, which I didn’t do as I had many times before. I hope it reminds all of us who suffer from depression that we can’t make our pain go away by giving it to someone else.

I’ve learned people don’t know how to talk about depression or mental illness, especially with those who most need a safe place to talk about it, whether at church or at work or even among friends.

That’s why I hope this is being read by a mother or wife, a sister or a friend of someone who suffers from mental illness, especially depression. You can help them just by telling them you love them and you are always there to talk. It doesn’t have to be preachy or perfect—just offer words of encouragement.

Sadly, even that might not be enough for those whose pain is too great.  I hope and pray that a loved one reading this who did lose their child can find peace again.

I also pray that God will forgive me for giving up hope.

I will soon be going to a treatment center in a desperate search for the right help, which has been all too elusive.

I hope to return to my family stronger and healthier, and I look forward to sharing more later.


Think you are depressed? Man up!

Smart people who study mental illness say twice as many women suffer from depression than do men.

I find that hard to believe.

Since I began sharing my struggles with depression with close friends, I’m amazed at the number of men who tell me they are probably depressed.

Is the science wrong? Probably not.

Yet could it be that research shows twice as many women experience depression because men are less likely to admit they need help? Probably so.

I’d be interested to see what effect the Great Recession has had on the number of men who suffer from depression. Suicide rates reached an all-time high in 1932, according a Bloomberg article that references an American Journal of Public Health study.

You don’t have to be a history buff to know that was the height of the Great Depression. (That’s a really sad pun). They may have been the most difficult time in American history for men—at least in terms of mental health.

An article published in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution this week said the suicide rate for middle-aged people (ages 45-64) is the highest it has been since 1998.

The only place I’ve ever met men who tried to commit suicide was in a dual diagnosis program for people who suffer from mental illness and/or addiction. The men I know in my personal life that are struggling with what could be diagnosed as depression aren’t suicidal, but they don’t exactly have a sunny outlook, either.

Several male friends of mine have come to me for advice. They’ve asked me if they could be depressed.

Since I’m obviously not a doctor, I tell them to talk to one. But I also urge them not to stop with their primary care doc if they don’t get the help they need. With all due respect to doctors, internists don’t seem to understand mental illness very well. It’s not enough to get on a drug. Therapy is often needed, too.

If your doctor isn’t helping, ask for a referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist, or look one up on your own online. That’s what I did.

It’s normal to get the blues. But if you feel hopeless, exhausted, persistently sad and have lost interest in things that once gave you pleasure, it might be worth your time to check out this FACT SHEET on men and depression. It comes from the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

So guys, if you think you are depressed, man up! You are not alone.