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  • Writer's pictureDavid Kendrick

Dying To Live/Living To Die

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

As I sit back watching the movie "Man Down" I finally get to the end of the movie and I uncontrollably burst into tears. I sat there crying for about an hour. The movie told a story of a soldier coming back from war and dealing with PTSD. The movie was great, however, it was the last 30 seconds that evoked a strong physical response.

Before the credits rolled, an image rolled across the screen that provided the statistics of suicide in the veteran community. It was as if God himself was speaking to me while looking at the statistics. To set the scene for you: I was home alone during a time in America intended for holiday cheer and celebration. I was on administrative leave from my job because I told my manager that I was thinking about suicide. I also was on the worst drinking binge that I have ever been on in my life.

God knows that if anyone can drink, a soldier can. I can drink with some of the best of them to the point where I wore my drinking as a badge of honor. However, during this time in my life it was the first time that I remember drinking in the morning. First it was the opioids, but alcohol is what I used to pacifier myself from the stress of my world.

After seeing this movie I knew that I had to do something. I needed help with my situation. My emotional bucket was filled to the brim with emotions. Hate, sadness, anger, depression and hopelessness were the only emotions that I was capable of feeling during this time in my life. Luckily, I had an appointment with my mental health doctor at the East Point clinic in Atlanta the next day.

As soon as I saw her I burst into tears. I told her for the first time in my life I was afraid of myself and that I couldn't go back home. I knew if I went back home I was going to kill myself. I have had these feeling in the past but nothing as strong as what I was having during this time.

I have an injury from combat that impacts my life every single day. From my injuries I deal with a plethora of symptoms. The worst symptom is dealing with the pain every single day of my life and knowing that it is never going to go away. It causes me to turn to alcohol which I use to ease the pain but what is usually does is increase whatever emotion I am feeling at the time.

I wanted to live, but for the first time I REALLY wanted to die. I believe in a higher power, so I didn't want to commit suicide because I didn't want to go to hell. I would go out wishing that I would get hit by a car, die in my sleep, or any freak accident that would end my life. I even asked for the sniper that shot me in Iraq to come and finish the job...letting me live was his form of torture. Killing me would have been too easy, but watching me suffer was his fun.

My mental health doctor told me about the inpatient program on the 4th floor at the VA in Decatur. I spent 4 days there and it was just what I needed. While there the smallest things made the biggest differences. The staff there made me feel loved when I didn't love myself. I wanted to die so bad, but on that 4th floor I just wanted to live. My life meant something to people who didn't even know me. It should matter more to me.

When it was time for me to be discharged, the team of doctors put together a suicide prevention plan for me. This plan is specific to me, but there are many veterans as well as civilians who could benefit from having one if they have mental health issues. I learned to look out for the signs and either seek help or turn to one of my coping strategies to help me during a rough time.

Something as little as watching that movie kickstarted me on my road to recovery. At the time I wasn't really living, I was just "existing". The living that I was doing during this time was surely going to kill me. Now that I have this experience, I'm dying to share it with the world. Suicide is a touchy subject here, and many are afraid to talk about it. I've found that the more we do talk about it, the more we help those people who need it the most.

Thank you for reading. If you are interested in seeing what a suicide prevention plans looks like please see mine below.

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