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Have You Experienced Suicide Of Friends Or Relatives? How I Survived My Father’s Suicide

Written by: Dean Nelson, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight thin their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Dean Nelson

In the United States, nearly 50,000 suicides are reported each year. Many other countries have high rates as well. The rate of suicide amongst teenagers is increasing in alarming numbers. If you have experienced a friend or relatives’ suicide (or other form of death), you have survived a horrendous ordeal. You should seek counsel or professional advice to assist in recovery from this traumatic event.

A photo of a shadow of hands.

This article is meant to provide a means by which you can relate to others’ suicide experiences and discover their coping mechanisms. In this case, it is my own life experience you will encounter. Caution is advised as the following story is told with graphic details of the events as they occurred.

A shotgun in the shower

It was a gorgeous sunny Florida afternoon on the Sunday before my first day of high school (sophomore year). I was a typical fifteen-year-old attempting to discover myself and the meaning of life in my teen years. Significant tension and emotional discord impacted my parents’ lives, but I did not expect the situation to resolve with suicide.

My mom came to me and told me she discovered a shotgun in their shower that my father had placed there at some point earlier that day. She was understandably frightened and bewildered. It felt like I had been punched in my stomach from being so scared and shocked at my mom’s utterance. What should I do? Whom should I call without angering my father?

This was many years ago, before cell phones, so I could not call my older brother, who was not home then. I was too terrified that my father would become highly agitated if I involved our neighbors, so I ran a half mile to a shopping center and used my only quarter to call my father’s best friend, who lived locally. Inexplicably, I misdialed and got the police department’s direct line. When they answered, I promptly hung up. Then, I ran across the street to a gas station where the attendant permitted me to use their phone. My dad’s best friend was not home, but his wife, Delores, said she would leave immediately for my home.

Stunned and horrified

When I arrived home after rerunning the same distance, I noticed Delores’ car was in our driveway, but I later found that she and my mother were next door with our neighbor's wife. I met her husband at our front door. He offered to go inside with me to assist however he could. We entered cautiously and made our way down the hall to the closed door of my parent’s bedroom.

With trepidation, I called out to my dad, but there was no reply. BAM! A blast from his shotgun broke the uneasy silence. My neighbor quickly exited the house. I was alone with my dad and did not know if he was alive or dead. The door was locked, so I ran outside to their open bathroom window and called out to my father—again, no reply. I scurried back inside to enter their bedroom.

Once again, I called my dad. Another blast of the shotgun rang out and petrified me. Reaching over the door with exceedingly trembling hands, I retrieved the key and unlocked it. Slowly, I swung the door open and immediately noticed a large hole in their dresser from the first shotgun blast, apparently meant to startle me into leaving the house. The room was layered with smoke, and the smell of gunpowder was overwhelming. Their bathroom door was open, and as I approached, I witnessed my father seated on the shower floor with the shotgun at his side and a hole in his chest. The horrifying scene, along with the sound of blood oozing from his arteries and tricking down the drain, negatively impacted my life in a multitude of ways, as one might imagine.

Life after suicide trauma

No one’s life can ever be the same after an event like that. I am not alone. Suicide creates emotional distress, chaos, confusion, doubt, grief, resentment, depression, suicidal thoughts, and other deleterious behaviors and mindsets. As for me, all of these apply. At a time in my life when I needed guidance and leadership the most, my father abandoned me. I was consumed with beliefs rooted in guilt that perhaps I was not an ideal son; I should have told the police when I had them on the phone; I should have involved my neighbor from the outset. I created more beliefs that I am a failure and let my family down, along with other damaging beliefs. I became depressed and suicidal at times. I needed help!

Unfortunately, I only received emotional support from my family and friends, who were incredibly loving and caring. That got me through until I immersed myself in self-improvement books, seminars, and videos. It was a long, slow recovery route, so I absolutely recommend professional assistance early on for death and suicide. Here are my recommendations to cope with suicide, whether you were an unfortunate participant or merely heard about it. The impact can be devastating in either situation, and each individual will respond in various ways.

  • Seek professional counsel. There are various styles and techniques. Conduct research and choose one you feel would help you the most. You can get a referral from your doctor.

  • Understand the importance of beliefs and how they affect your life and influence your decision-making process. Tony Robbins has four great tips for overcoming limiting beliefs here.

  • Identify hidden beliefs such as “I am not worthy,” “I can’t handle it,” and “It’s my fault.” Change these to “I am worthy,” “I am in charge,” and “I am without guilt.” Realize when a hidden belief comes to mind and repeat your new empowering belief as if you genuinely believe it. Take advantage of this at every opportunity.

  • Continual cognitive reframing of negative situations and traumatic events is essential. When you change the frame you are viewing a problem through, the meaning changes. Many times, thinking and behavioral patterns shift with it. If a fellow employee snaps back at you while asking for assistance, your initial inclination may be to react analogously. Instead, you reframe the event in your mind. You consider that your peer may not be feeling well, has just received bad news, has just been reprimanded by your boss, or is experiencing a financial crisis. You create a new perspective and allow yourself to respond positively. Verywell Mind shares how cognitive reframing works here.

  • Investigate alternative therapies. Non-traditional systems like EMDR, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, Tapping (I recommend The Tapping Solution), and The Lefkoe Method. I have practiced each of these and found them effective in resolving numerous past issues.

Don’t permit yourself to suffer needlessly. Most issues can be resolved with education and effort. Take the time to invest in yourself. You are worth it!

If you wish to experience a wide array of additional life-changing techniques from the author, Dean Nelson, visit here for books, articles, and research links to awaken your potential.

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Dean Nelson Brainz Magazine

Dean Nelson, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Dean Nelson is the best-selling author of three self-help, inspirational, and motivational books with another in the works. For nearly 30 years, he spent countless hours attending seminars, researching, studying, and seeking out ways to awaken his potential. His sincerest passion and mission in life is to provide simple shortcuts to living a more fulfilled and inspired experience. For those who are struggling and ready for change, Nelson shares his enlightening psychology for those seeking an immediate positive transformation.



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