Brothers and Sisters,
This is a difficult article to write. As many of you know, we tragically lost one of our Local 17 brothers to a suicide. I know what it’s like to be a family member left behind by suicide as I have had two family members take their own life. And, I know what it is like to feel low, as I am sure everyone has felt down at some point in their life.
When a person suffers from mental illness and chooses to take their own life, so many questions linger. Why did they do it? Why did they think this was there only option? Why didn’t someone see this coming?
To deal with the challenges of life, a long time ago I retreated inward and passionately began two activities I continue to this day, writing and running. My early missives were uncharacteristically dark and nihilistic even for a teen in the 80’s. They dwelled on the futility of life and attempted to explain the post suicide survivor’s world into which I found myself unwillingly thrust. In running I found release for the anger I felt as I watched my mother and grandmother grieve their loss and my father not understand how to help. Aging legs had me hang up the running shoes and don a cycling kit but I still find the same calming solitude in the whirl of the tire and grind of the gear as the pounding of pavement.
The bike trips, writing, working on Briget, finishing my basement, planning my HO layout and all the other activities I have thrown myself into over the years have kept things in check in my life.
After the RC 600 final on Monday, June 1, I invited anyone in the class who was interested to meet me at Becky’s for a beer. Three people that took me up on the offer; one was our brother who ended up taking his life. I sat with him, drank with him and discovered that his wife and my son attended the same college at the same time. He talked about wanting to work maintenance as a career path. At the end of the evening, we paid our tabs, shook hands and I told him I looked forward to seeing him at the next union meeting. Saturday he took his own life.
I don’t know why he took his life. I don’t know why my family members chose their path. The only answer those who are left behind have is that there is no answer.
Our condolences go out to our brother’s family as we pray he found the peace in death he could not find in life.
Please remember that the IUEC offers confidential counseling services through its Member Assistance Program (MAP) administered by Beacon Health Options. For more information go to achievesolutions.net/iuec. This is a benefit offered to you through our Health Benefit Plan. There is no additional charge to you. Never forget that you have options to get the help that you need.
Until next month, work smart, work safely and slow down for safety.