Background story leading up to my dads suicide. The weeks and days prior, and undiagnosed health issues.
I grew up in what I thought was a very loving household. My mom was a young mother at 16, and my dad at 20. I was obviously unexpected but my mom and dad chose to keep me and push through being young parents. My dad was from a middle class family. He was one of three children to a garage owner and a warehouse employee. They didn’t have much money, but never wanted for much. Only after his death did I find out of his childhood. My dad and I never really spoke of his upbringing, and I never asked questions as I never thought it was any of my business. Only after his passing did I hear of things such as verbal and physical abuse. I don’t know if that is true as I never spoke with him about this. I know there was a history of mental health issues from his dad, and his oldest sister later in life. My pop pop was eventually diagnosed with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and anxiety later in life. Before his passing he was found over an hour away from home in a city that he had no idea where he was. He eventually was put into a home for mentally ill patients where he eventually passed away. His mom passed away in her 70’s from complications of cancer.
My maternal Grandparents were always in my life. I spent many days with them. My grandma was a driver for a nursing home for many years, and my grandpa was a truck driver. There were no mental health issues that I was aware and it was always the typical loving family. I spent many weekends with them and always loved being there. I grew up in the house behind theirs and could literally walk through a door and into their living room. This was the family that I was very close with. I was the only grandchild for almost 10 years before my cousin Katie was born.
Growing up my dad was a warehouse worker and worked very early morning shifts. He was always home by lunch time and he would be the person who would pick me up. We would go home and play and he’d be my primary parent throughout most of my early childhood. My mom always worked, sometimes late and my dad would be there for me. My mom was never a loving mom. She was always there but was always too busy. Instead of showing me love she bought me love for many years. She still to this day says, “you hated me growing up.” I didn’t hate her nor do I now, but she never was there for me like a parent should have been. My dad did everything with me. We played together, ran errands together, he took me to all my appointments. He was the one who picked me up from school if I was sick. My dad and I had a very close bond. If he ever had mental health issues when I was younger it was never noticeable.
As I got older and now look back on things, I see little things that i should have picked up on. Things like wanting to be home and not go anywhere. I noticed that after the company he had worked for had closed and he lost his job that he had for over 20 years he was more irritable. No jobs that he found and worked for made him happy. His last job before he passed was at a pipe company where he was a yard jockey. He enjoyed that job, but things started to change and he was getting the crap end of the stick. He had to work more while other employees could take time off and my dad wasn’t getting compensated. His every other weekend was turning to six even seven days a week working. He was tired of being the guy who everyone used. He came home one night and told my mom he wanted to put a gun to his head. She brushed it off and he eventually said he was just “joking.” He never wanted to do things with his granddaughters. If I took the girls down to him he was happy but he very rarely came to our home. I also noticed he was very shaky and he never seemed like he did anything right anymore for my mom. A few weeks before his death he called me one night very upset. He said my mom went out yet again with her work friends. I asked him to come to our house and he said he had to get to bed early. I also asked him many times over the last 6-8 weeks of his last weeks of life to come stay with us. I told him we would take care of things, but I think he was afraid. He said she would do whatever she’d want but if he wanted to do things he never could.He shared some things with me about their relationship that was mind blowing. I also found out that there were several times over the years in which my dad wanted to leave but he never could because he knew my mom would be a living nightmare to him. It was when I found that out that I knew where a lot of his mental health issues stemmed from.
I remember that last weekend very vividly. My Dad had been having some health issues. He always used to say that when he woke up he always felt “drunk.” He said it didn’t matter what he was doing or not he never felt like he had a clear head. They were in the process of treating him for a disorder in which the body goes into overdrive and basically the kidneys and liver excrete a bile and it makes the body feel as though they are drunk or have been drinking. There was also an episode where he had pulled into a local gas station and someone came up to him concerned. They said he “flew through the parking lot at a high rate of speed and slammed on his brakes hitting the pole that was in front of the space.” My dad drank recreationally his whole life, but I can tell you he was never blackout drunk nor would drink and drive. So when the police man showed up to the house that day and questioned my dad, he didn’t even remember this had happened. My mom said he returned home that day after being out and was completely fine. When the cop came and walked my dad out to the truck to see if there was any damage sure enough the bumper was smashed in. I remember him calling me and telling me this. I had bought him a Philadelphia Eagles license plate for the front of his truck and he was so worried he messed that up. I told him that was the least of my worries, and that I wanted him to be okay, My dad had called me and told me he thought he needed to be checked. He asked which hospital he should go and I gave him my recommendations, upon their arrival they took him back immediately and got him checked in. They did some blood tests and they also checked his BAC. When the doctor came in he was very stern and basically told him, “You are drunk, you were drunk, and I have no further actions for you. You may leave.” Despite me dads pleas the doctor walked out and never came back in. My dad wanted answers. Not to be turned away. He felt like no one would listen to him. He felt like all the doctors gave up on him and no one wanted to hear his side. He felt like an alcoholic without the drinking. I do know my dad drank daily but I truly felt in my heart he was telling me the truth. They went home that evening and my dad felt defeated. My mom was yelling at him about this and made his all ready low spirits lower. It was that night in which I felt like something was wrong and I needed to be with him. I told my fiancee that night that I needed to see him first thing in the morning.
My dad was such a gentle soul. He was a very hard worker who literally had a heart of gold. He was never mean to people, hated confrontation, and also hated if people were upset with him. I can’t imagine how embarrassed he must’ve been when the cops showed up that day.
CDC Facts regarding suicide
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
According to the CDC suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. In 2018, 48,344 Americans died from suicide. In 2018 there were 1.4 million suicide attempts. In 2018 men died of suicide 3.56x more often than women.