Ten Thousand Angels

suicide_prevention_floral_hope_ribbon_magnet-p147423498570994873b2gru_400I went back and forth about writing this topic today because I know that there is the possibility for heated debate and emotionally charged feelings on the topic. So before I start, let me be clear in stating that anything discussed or brought up in this post is of my own opinions and not directly associated with the opinions of NSOB as a whole.

A prominent headline in the news this week was about the suicide of Country Star Mindy McCready. Many of you may not know of her work, but I wore out the track Ten Thousand Angels when I was in college. We listen to their music and watch them on TV. Our perception is they are carefree celebrities. When we hear they are struggling with depression or substance abuse our thoughts become, “What could be so wrong in their life.” The flawed logic is that celebrities are rich, famous, beautiful, and without strife. But depression and thoughts of suicide do not discriminate. It can affect any person, any time and for any reason. Children, teenagers, young adults, the elderly, short, tall, skinny, obese, rich, poor, and any ethnicity.  It is a real problem with long term consequences for not only the individual but those who are left behind.

With regard to the bible, there are many stories depicting characters battling with internal struggles. Several saints and heroes faced depression and doubt (King David, the prophet Jeremiah and Job are just a few examples). While the bible has many stories of powerful and influential characters that are at odds with a stable life, there are only a few examples of suicide (six in the Old Testament and only Judas in the New Testament). Despite the scarcity of suicide in the Bible, the unfortunate act of taking one’s life is woven throughout our culture. The loss of life at one’s own hand seems even more tragic when it is compounded with a fall from stature or with the seemingly young and innocent.  Fictional works capture the struggle and sadness of suicide as one of life’s tragic metaphors. From “Romeo and Juliet” to “A Brave New World,” and “Girl, Interrupted” there are too many works to list that depict the grief and struggle some must face in life. While these fictional works are emotionally exhausting to read, these stories give us a brief glimpse into the darkness and despair a fellow soul faces in those solitary times.  If nothing else, these novels allow us to relate and hopefully understand.

The stories are hard enough to read in fiction. They are even harder to hear “in the real world,” they always are. While we see them on reality shows, we hear them on the radio, and we read about them in magazines…we don’t know them. They are human beings who have suffered and felt that there was no way out. It is often said that you should not judge a man until you have walked in his shoes. I will follow the bible on this one and I will understand that it is never simply black or white. May ten-thousand angels greet you at the gate…

Posted on February 22, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. I couldn’t agree with you more, Jamie. As a school counselor, I often deal with depression and it’s side effects. Depression doesn’t just hurt the one who suffers, it touches everyone in their lives. And you are right: depression doesn’t discriminate. The most important thing to remember if you suffer from depression is that it’s not your fault, and there are experts out there who really can help!

  2. I’d just like to point out, in the Gospel of Mark, Jesus doubts too.

  3. I had not heard this news. How very sad. Just two weeks ago, tomorrow, I attended the memorial service for a twenty-two year old son, brother, and father. He took his own life. His parents are our friends. It was heart wrenching to see them struggle, trying to understand how he could have chosen such a permanent solution to what they felt were temporary problems.

    So many things in life can lead a person down that dark path which makes them believe there is no better way. But having been there myself, I can promise, the light does brighten and the sun will warm your face again, if you can just hold out until the storm passes.

    Jamie, I appreciate you bringing this subject into the open. It is often brushed aside. Because it’s difficult to comprehend, people try to simply get past it as quickly as possible.

    For those out there who feel there is no hope, look to that Old Book… in it’s pages are promises from the ONE who created and loves you. Let His love be a balm to your soul.

  4. I love this post. Very well said. I must be around your age, Jamie, because I wore out “Ten Thousand Angels” in college too. Mindy McCready was my favorite female country singer during my college years. So sad what happened to her. 😦

  5. I’ve waited all day to post a comment. I’ve honestly been pretty hard hit by Mindy’s death and I don’t know why. Maybe because she was my age, maybe because I saw her in concert several times, maybe because I thought/hoped she had pulled her life together. I can imagine how it can get so bad you can’t see any other way out. I’ve been there. I almost did it myself more than once. But thank God, I couldn’t make myself go through with it. I wish that Mindy had heard the same voice tell her that she had a lot to live for, that it would get better. I saw that she has the cover of People this week and I don’t know if I can bring myself to read it. It’s so sad this is what it takes to make the cover. 😦 I pray that she can rest in peace and her children will be well taken care of.

  6. Nice post. I’ve known several people with depression and been ‘on site’ at two suicide attempts (thankfully non-successful). It has a big effect on those on both the inside and the outside of the event and it takes a lot of work, kindness, and faith (of whatever sort) to get through. It can be done, though.

  7. There are so many faces to suicide and depression. We’ve had two suicides in my family history and three others attempt it unsuccessfully.

    I have to admit that I was one of those attempts. Here is the shocking detail, I was only eight years old at the time.

    As an adult, I look back and see that the attempt was just my way of crying out for attention. I love my mom, but when I was a child, mom struggled with her own issues of depression and as children we were often shunted off to the side as she faced her own demons.

    There were many, many times she told my sister and I that she was too young when she had children. Those were the words she said. What my young, impressionable mind heard was that she wished she never had us. What I remember most about that time, was wondering if anyone would miss me if I was gone. I decided to find out. So I went three days without speaking. No one noticed. On the fourth day I told my mom that I was feeling unloved and unwanted. She got upset and told me to go outside and play. That, to me, was the proof I needed.

    That night I tried to hang myself in my closet. Not the greatest plan. The pole that held up my clothes wasn’t high enough. Still determined, I tried my parents closet… and the rod broke, sending all of their clothes crashing down on me. I pulled the belt from around my neck before my mom caught on to what I was doing. The only thing I accomplished was getting grounded for breaking my parents closet and a bit of a bruise on the back of my neck.

    At that point I figured I was too stupid to figure out how to do it properly, so I quit trying. Eventually, I had a teacher take notice that I turned very sullen and quiet in class. She talked to me a bit about what was wrong, and when I told her that I was feeling like no one in the world wanted me, she assured me that was untrue. She also scheduled a meeting with my dad.

    My dad and I had a serious heart to heart about what was happening in my own home. He told me that mom’s problems were her own, and that it wasn’t my or my sisters fault for the way she felt. From then on, my dad made sure to check in a lot more (he often was at work during our waking hours) and see how we were getting along.

    I never told either my teacher, or my parents, about the suicide attempt. To this day that teacher doesn’t know that she probably saved my life.

    As of today, I am the only woman in my family (on my moms side) that remains off anti-depressants and has remained depression free. I honestly think that my brush with suicide is what accounts for that. I know, in my heart, that I am loved. I’ve learned not to let other peoples opinions or negativity, invade my life. I’ve learned that I am strong enough to overcome whatever life throws at me. I don’t sweat the small stuff.

    My sincere hope is that as a society, instead of looking down on people suffering from depression, we reach a hand out to them and give them hope. It’s what my third grade teacher did for me, and it’s the reason I am still here.

    • Amen, J.E. Shannon! Good for you! I’m so glad your teacher helped your father see what was happening to his family. When you’re fighting that battle, it’s sometimes hard to get the big picture. You’re so focused on helping the person who has the “presenting symptoms” that you miss all the pain in those around you. Thanks for sharing your story! You are a strong and wise woman!

  8. I have so much to say on this topic that I am afraid my comment would be longer than this post and all the comments put together. It hits very close to home, on many different levels.

    But my thoughts really all boil down to this: It sickens me that I see others saying things like “coward’s way out” about her and others who have taken, or tried to take, the same path. I am with Jamie 100% on this one. If only people could stop judging others, and show love and compassion instead.

    I bet with less judgement and more compassion in her life, Ms. McCready’s life would have looked a lot different.

    I hope that she has found some peace, I hope that she now sings with her ten thousand angels.

  9. “Judge not, that ye shall not be judged.” I could not agree with you more, Michelle. It is unfortunate that those of us who are not in that terrible place feel the need to condem those who are. “First take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your nieghbor’s eye.”

  10. Thank you for everyone sharing your thoughts, stories, and experiences. It is through love, support, sharing and understanding that each of us can make a difference.

  11. I just came across this post, and it is very heartfelt and touching. I think it’s important for people to know that this feeling touches those who even you would assume it doesn’t. Often, it’s the ones who don’t show it who feel it most keenly. My heart goes out to every soul touched by this. Thank you for posting this, Jamie.

  12. Scanning through your blog, I paused to read first your compassionate post and then the comments. As a profession, veterinarians have a high rate of suicide, alcohol and drug abuse. A mere 1.5 years after graduation, a close friend of mine killed himself. I’ll never forget his mother asking why I didn’t save him. It has haunted me ever since. My friend’s death and his mother’s accusations have fueled my writing in what I hope is a constructive way to deal with the guilt I still feel over a dozen years later. I don’t think I could’ve saved him, but I’m sad to say that I didn’t try. I honestly thought he was better, but that was just wishful thinking.

  1. Pingback: Suicide Awareness | JBodnarDrowley

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