Stigma Fighters: The Day My Father Committed Suicide

THE DAY MY FATHER COMMITTED SUCIDE

My father committed suicide on July 27, 2011. I was the first person to find him. It was a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. When I found him, he was outside, face down, with a .38 revolver in his hand, which I was unaware of him having. He had told me that he had gotten rid of it). He was only 54 when he died.

It all started when my father was placed on disability a few years prior to his death. My dad was a  hard-working blue collar man. He worked as a journeyman meat cutter doing manual labor. Unfortunately, his body took a toll because of this work and it gradually deteriorated. This caused him to have multiple surgeries including: two back surgeries, a neck surgery, two wrist surgeries and a few more minor surgeries over a short period of time.

His last surgery was the final draw.  He was deemed unable to work and placed on disability. For most people this wouldn’t be too bad of a thing. However, in my father’s case, it was the worst thing that could have happened to him. You see, my father battled depression as well as some other very personal issues that contributed to his mental instability. On top of that, he was a self-medicating alcoholic. He was rarely ever mean or angry, but he punished himself mercilessly by never getting help, and internalizing all his pain. This is eventually what led to his demise.

When I found out that my father was disabled, I was living at home waiting to get my own place. However, knowing what I knew about my father, I decided to stay put and try my hardest to help him. Somewhere in the back of my mind I felt like I needed to stay for a while to see if it was possible to help my dad (my friend) get back on his feet. However, as the years went by he refused to get professional help and his mental and physical health deteriorated even further until there was nothing even I could do to help him.

The day of his suicide I wasn’t even aware that it had happened. Both my mom and I were at home during the time but neither of us woke up or heard any sound. We had no inkling of an idea that he was going to do anything like this. He had talked about death and wanting to die during depressive episodes, but gave no indication that he was planning a suicide.

I woke up and went downstairs to get my day started. When I got downstairs my dad was usually on the couch or in his chair, because he was unable to go up and down the stairs to his bedroom on the second floor of the house. However, this time he wasn’t in either place. I quickly started to worry and then hastily started looking for my dad. This just wasn’t like him. I knew something was up.

I went to the laundry room, the downstairs bathroom and then upstairs. But he wasn’t anywhere to be found. I quickly started to panic. I thought the worst, but I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see outside. When I finally decided to check the backyard is when I saw him lying on the ground next to the house, facedown. At this point I didn’t see the carnage, I was only able to see him lying on the ground not moving. I ran to him while yelling his name; he didn’t move.

When I got to him I knelt down and saw the devastation, but was unable to process what happened. It was like I was in such shock that my mind was protecting me from the horror that my eyes just witnessed. Nothing registered in my brain as this being a suicide even though I saw the revolver and blood on the ground next to him. I ran upstairs to get my mother. We ran down the stairs and then outside. Mom was calling to my father and shaking him but he wasn’t responding. I stood there petrified trying to process all of these terrible things going on around me.

Mom screamed at me to call 911. It took a second to register what I needed to do, but I finally ran inside to call for help. While on the phone I didn’t even know what to say because my thoughts were everywhere. Once I hung up the phone I went upstairs and put clothes and shoes on as if I was expecting to go to the hospital and dad was going to be ok. When I joined my mom back outside with my dad she was still yelling at him to wake up and doing chest compressions in hopes of resuscitating him. I knelt down and looked at all of the blood and the gun, but it still didn’t sink in what was really happening until the police and paramedics showed up. I met them in the front yard and had them run with me to the backyard where my father was. When the cop and two paramedics came upon my mother kneeling over the body, the look on the police officer’s face said it all.

He knew what had happened and he knew how bad it was. He told mom and I to go around to the front of the house. We both cried hysterically and embraced each other. All I could get out of my mouth was “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…” I still didn’t know what happened. When the police and paramedics were finished removing the body from the backyard, the officer came in to talk to us. He proceeded to explain to us that it was “an apparent suicide with a fatal gunshot wound to the head.”

That very moment, mom and I both burst into tears again after finally catching our breath. It finally had sunken in that this was real and my father had committed suicide. I was devastated and I will never be able to explain how I felt, other than complete sadness fell over me that caused an overwhelming amount of emotion to spew from my body uncontrollably. I was physically shaking from the shock of hearing the officer give the confirmation of suicide. My mind already had all the evidence of it, but somehow I needed that confirmation from the cop that it was real.

The officer got up to leave. That’s when we discovered the suicide note. My father had a white board the size of a legal pad that he would leave notes on for us to read when he was asleep, as he often was when we were up in the morning. This is what he left his suicide note on, because he knew that eventually we would find it. It simply read, “I can’t stand the pain anymore. I love you guys.”

That’s it…that’s all it said. It wasn’t anything profound or thought out. It was just as if it was hastily done. The whole thing didn’t make sense…it still doesn’t.

  • Tony Spagnoli

    I truly hope you can find peace someday soon.

  • Yvette

    I feel your pain. I lost my father to suicide too. I can’t tell you that it gets better, but somehow one just learns to accept it. My condolences.

  • Kim

    Lost my Dad April 2, 2015 to a self inflicted shotgun wound to the head. I miss him so much, the pain is so deep. I’ll never understand it and I’ll always wonder why. I’m sorry you lost your father this way. Thanks for posting.

  • Ida Brocato Hancock

    I could have written this verbatim! I found my dad April 18th…I’m just numb.