Forklift Theology

Faith musings from the seat of a forklift.

Suicidal Sailor

Yes, I get how shocking the title is. However, there is something very important that I want to say. Please just bear with me.

 

Advent has begun again. I love Advent. However, I hate the holidays. Yes. I said it. I hate the holidays. For me, this isn’t about the perpetual argument regarding “Happy Holidays” vs “Merry Christmas”. This is something completely different. The fact is, the holidays are often difficult for many people.

It is no secret that suicide rates tend to spike during the holiday season. This is even true of military veterans. That also includes me. I live my life perpetually on the verge of suicide. Here is my story:

In 1997, I stationed on the USS Juneau. We were forward deployed during the holiday season. I can’t say if my incident happened just before, during, or immediately after the holiday. However, while pier-side in Kuwait, I was asked to go down to the berthing compartment for my division and take out the trash. This should be no big deal. Just pull out a couple trash bags, tie them up, put new bags in, and take the old to the dumpster on the pier. However, as soon as I got down to the berthing compartment, I was sexually assaulted.

Sexual assault doesn’t necessarily require any form of penetration. Being groped by another person, when it is unwanted, is still a form of sexual assault. That is what happened to me. I reported it to an on-duty second class petty officer, who told me in no uncertain terms to not say anything. Eventually, the stress got to me and I opened my mouth. This caused a fire-storm, my division officer (an angry warrant office who made it clear to me that he didn’t like me when he first reported aboard) ordered a cover-up. Suffice to say, my assailant got to walk free. From then on, I was incapable of doing my job without fear. Eventually, the stress got to a point where I had to seek out help. This lead to my reenlistment being blocked and my being discharged. I soon returned to my home state, broken and on the verge of suicide.

Now I know what some people may say. Ideas about being a Christian and how suicide is an unforgivable sin are the first things I hear. That is not something you should tell somebody who wants to end their life. What they really need is somebody who is willing to listen. For the first few years, after I got out of the Navy, that was the one thing I didn’t have. Nobody wanted to hear and were dismissive, which only made matters worse. I really don’t know how I managed to live through that period, a period in which I lost my faith, especially given how many times I got close to taking the final plunge and hanging myself.

I have spent the last twenty years of my life hating the holiday season. I put on a happy face, but it is a lie. Inside, I am miserable and angry. I struggle to maintain my composure during this time of year. I either want to hide in a corner and cry, or I want to end it all. However, I do my best to carry on, especially in light of my being married and having two children. I don’t know how many times I have had to call the veteran crisis line, feeling like everything is hopeless. Yes, for me, the holidays suck.

One of the few things that seem to help me is my monthly radio club meetings. Interacting with people outside of church who hold a similar interest as myself is somewhat therapeutic. I don’t have too many hobbies, and amateur radio is the only hobby I have in which there is a club I can interact with. My other hobbies are beer making and playing Eve Online (Note to my fellow capsuleers, I am not going to do anything, do not do anything. I am flying low sec and mining this week).

I guess you may ask why I wrote this. You are well within your rights to do so. I am tired of lying and hiding this dark truth. I am tired of pretending that everything is alright when I know that it isn’t. I also want to reach out and help those who have been through similar. Please, I understand how much pain you are feeling, because I am there too. I know how enticing it is to end it, but don’t do it. There is help. I have posted the phone numbers for both the Veteran Crisis Line and the National Suicide Hotline below. Please, if you feel like you can’t take it anymore, call one of those numbers. It may not feel like, but there is somebody there that cares. Also, please try to talk to a pastor. I know how hard that sounds, I have been there, but please do it. I don’t know a pastor today who wouldn’t be willing to help.

Christ died for our sins. Please, don’t end your life unnecessarily.

 

National Suicide Hotline:

1-800-273-TALK [8255]

Veteran Crisis Line:

1-800-273-8255
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