9/19/1983, my classmate took his life. Our senior year of high school had just begun. He was only 17. I didn’t see it coming. I didn’t understand it. No one seemed to understand it.

The world kept spinning. God blessed me with a beautiful wife and 12 children. There was so much to do. We had normal challenges, normal losses, and plenty of good times.

11/7/2021, when I was 55, Covid nearly killed me. Whatever hit me was real, and it was bad. I was gasping for air for two weeks. No one can tell me it was a fake sickness. For the first time in my life, I didn’t know if I was going to survive. I fought through it with everything I had, because I wasn’t ready to leave earth yet. My youngest was 8, and I had too much left to do. With God’s strength I persisted.

9/2/2022, my guitar teacher took his life. I didn’t see the warning signs. I didn’t know there were warning signs. I spent one-one time with him for weeks, never knowing he was struggling. What kind of friend was I?

2/10/2023, a 10th grade boy took his life. He attended the high school my children attended. Why? His future was bright. His life was just starting. Talking with my children, we discovered that one had admitted to having suicidal thoughts. This hit too close to home. My life had been devoted to raising my children in a loving environment. How could this be? I didn’t understand. What was going on in their minds?

10/8/2023, I joined the fight against suicide. I became a charity runner for AFSP in the 2024 Grandma’s Marathon. I never ran a marathon before, but I had to do something.

2023 was a rough year for our family. We had car accidents, boat accidents, hospital visits, and numerous other stressful situations. Seemed like every week was filled with over the top worry causing anxiety. I ignored the bible rule that tells us not to worry.

1/8/2024, after going to bed with an image of my grandson struggling to breathe in an ER room, I woke up in a panic attack. It was my turn to experience a mental health crisis. The feeling was as if I was in a room with a lion, but I knew there was no lion. It was very odd. My heart was racing, my breathing was short, and my nervous system put me in an uncontrollable flight mode. The only option I felt I had was to get out of where I was and walk with forward motion. But even that did not make it stop. I walked and walked for that first week until I was exhausted. Sleep became a real problem. There was little to no mental or physical relief. Not knowing what this was and not knowing if it would end was overwhelming, making the experience worse.

I felt a level of weakness, distress, and despair that I did not know existed. I would not wish that feeling on my worst enemy. I finally understood suicidal thoughts. My mind sought quick and permanent relief. I called 988.

With gentle prompting, we found professional help. It involved emergency medical attention, a Christian professional psychologist, and drastic changes in our life to reduce unnecessary stress. A real path to recovery was found.

There was hope. Family played a vital role in my recovery by letting me know that I was not alone in the struggle, but the most significant help came from my faith in God. I concentrated on the promises of knowing the closeness and love of Jesus Christ. I focused on the fact that Jesus Christ is the good shepherd, our healer, the great physician, our friend in time of need, our savior, and Lord. Without that, I don’t know where I would be.

Now I share with others that there is real HOPE for those going through a mental crisis. There are warning signs to look for. There is help available that is proven to work, and resources for hurting people.

It is an odd thing to ponder, with all the good I have experienced these last 40 years, the devil would try and convince me that life is not worth living. That is a lie. I would strongly disagree. Life can be difficult but every day is a blessing.