Please be aware, that if you have a trigger for suicide do not read further.
This piece is written in the hopes that someone who feels the same way might think twice and realize that they are not alone. I’m not looking for sympathy or pity.
It has been quite some time since I’ve been here. Part of that was disappointment from my book but most of it was just life as it happened, and happened, and happened some more.
The story I am about to tell you is true. The names have not been changed to protect the innocent.
On Monday, May 9th of this year my alarm went off for work as usual. I had been sick three days the previous week and was not looking forward to acting human and/or adult-like in any way. I tumbled out of bed and proceeded with my morning routine.
Before I left the house I texted my boss that I was still ill and was staying home one more day. My wife thought I was going to work as I headed out the door.
My head was spinning and my breathing was erratic as I pulled away from the house. I navigated the side streets out to the traffic light where the small highway was that leads to everything around here. I turned left and headed for the gun store. Five minutes later I was in the parking lot and discovered they didn’t open until 10:00. I had two and half hours to kill. (Ironic use of the word)
I went to Denny’s just down the road. A last meal so to speak. I ordered my favorite, a Sante Fe skillet. I had my book with me which was very weird since, at that time, I didn’t think I’d be finishing it but I read anyway. It’s a habit, when I dine alone, I read. I people-watched after I finished two chapters. I tried to imagine all the stories of the faces I was seeing. None of them knew my story and had no idea what might happen in the next two hours. Nobody even noticed me except the server. I felt invisible, as I have much of my life.
By 9:50 I was almost shaking but I internalized it. I paid my check, went to the bathroom, and then found my car in the parking lot. I went through the contacts on my phone and just couldn’t bear to call anyone. I pocketed my phone, started the car, and headed for Insight Firearms.
I passed by the store and two cars were there. Two people were opening the store, so I looped around the block to give them a minute. I pulled in after the second loop and exited my car. The distance from the car to the entrance was probably less than a hundred feet but felt more like one hundred miles. The closer I got to the store the further away it became.
I finally reached the door and it felt like it weighed a ton. I needed two hands to open it. It was bright inside. Guns of all kinds lined the walls or should I say, weapons of war lined the walls. I was completely overwhelmed by the view. Several screens plus posters were around the shop denigrating the president. Two women were behind the counter. Both carrying weapons. I shouldn’t have been surprised but I was anyway.
The older of the two women asked if she could help me. I told her I was a first-timer and I wanted something easy to use for the house. She asked what price range and I looked down at the counter. There were several handguns in the $600 range. I picked one and pointed. “That one looks good.”
She slid the door open on the backside of the display and pulled it out. She handed it to me, it was heavier than I imagined. I lifted it and sited it. I felt as though I was watching myself from above and I couldn’t understand what I was doing or why. That couldn’t be me even though it looked like me and sounded like me. The salesperson had no idea that five minutes after I left there what I was planning to do. It felt foreign like it wanted to jump out of my hand. When I laid it back down I expected to see pistol grip burns on my palms.
I honestly don’t know if I was shaky or not. I must have been calm enough for the sales lady or she didn’t care. After all, a sale is a sale. An armed citizen is a safe citizen…
But I digress, politicking about guns is a separate subject. I chose the first gun she showed me and sat down at a computer screen for my background check. That went smoothly. She showed me how to load it and then put it in its plastic carrying case. I asked for two boxes of ammunition, I have no idea why. It’s not like pizza where I can only get one slice.
All in all, it was just over $600.00 to buy a suicide machine. And that’s what it was. I left the store and was in my car in seconds, almost running. I had to get out of there quickly before anybody saw or before I changed my mind.
I drove the short distance to the police station. I chose the police station because I figured they were trained and there would be less trauma for them than the general public. I was certainly not thinking clearly anyway. I pulled into a spot and watched a couple of videos to make sure I was loading it correctly. I loaded four bullets, again, I don’t know why. All I needed was one.
I inserted the clip and pulled back the mechanism which I’d seen done on TV and in movies hundreds of times. It was so easy. Turns out that was the only easy part. I couldn’t lift the weapon, it felt as though it weighed two tons. I could not make my arm do what I wanted it to do. My brain willed it but my body failed me. Or maybe it didn’t.
I placed the gun on the passenger seat and scrolled through my phone desperately looking for someone to call as the tears started. The tears turned into ugly sobbing and I gave up on my phone. For an hour I sat in my car, people passed by including policemen, and nobody noticed. Talk about feeling invisible.
When I finally calmed down a bit I drove myself to the ER. I was shaking as I pulled into the closest spot I could find. I put the gun on the floor of the passenger side so it couldn’t be seen and I walked towards the sliding doors. The hospital looked like a beacon, not of hope, but of last resorts. I went inside to a half-full ER under construction. I found the admitting nurse and asked her if security was there. She asked why and I told her there was a gun in my car and that I didn’t want it anymore. I started hyperventilating and crying again before the words had fully left my mouth.
Security came over and I told him where it was again that I didn’t want it. At that point, my reality was coming back and I couldn’t even fathom that I had bought it. The nurse asked me if I wanted to check in and put her hand on my shoulder, it was not her first rodeo. She checked my vitals and gave me a wrist band and I sat in the waiting room.
Twenty minutes later an ER nurse came to get me and I was assigned a bed. It was not yet 11:00 in the morning. Doctors and nurses rotated in and out of my room. The curtain was only shut part way so they could see me because I was a suicide risk.
At this point, I had still called no one. I had to call my wife. What in the world would I tell her? I tried to form the words in my mind while falling in and out of sleep. While I was still thinking she texted me at 1:00, “You OK?” I hadn’t texted her all day and she’s a bit of a worry wart but that day I wondered if it was divine intervention that made her ask that particular question.
I called her and told her I was at the hospital and I was OK, come see me and I’ll explain. I have no idea what she thought at that moment but I can imagine. She arrived less than 30 minutes later. It was one of the longest times in my life. I told her the story while trying not to cry, which was a failure. She was shocked and angry, “This is not OK,” she said. I can’t blame her.
I had considered how people might feel after I did it, but I never considered their feelings if I didn’t do it. I never thought that would be an option until it was. If I was gone they would eventually move on but not doing it meant there was worry and maybe even a stigma that I would always be a risk and that actually seemed worse to me.
She held my hand, watched me sleep, talked to me, and eventually, we started on trivia questions. Doctors and nurses continued to float in and out, and the police came and picked up the gun. I authorized my father-in-law and brother-in-law to pick it up since they both owned weapons and were local.
The hospital wanted to send me to a psych facility which at that time I thought was a good idea. They made it sound like a choice but I don’t think it was. It took them a while to find a place and then it took a while for transportation to be arranged. My wife couldn’t just take me, it had to be an ambulance, at the cost of $7,400, which finally arrived after 10:00. I had been in the ER for not quite twelve hours.
I said goodbye to my wife and the ambulance took me to my next destination which was a psych facility in Surprise. Why Surprise you ask? Two hours away. Because there was no room in any local facilities. The hospital said not to be surprised if I had to go to Vegas for an opening.
Two hours later I was in the facility all alone not knowing anyone or what it was like. My imagination immediately led me to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. It was close to midnight by the time I got to the admitting area. They asked the same questions the hospital did and more. They took all my belongings and gave me two gowns, one to wear normally and one to wear in the front. I guess asses out in the wind cause issues.
I was given some food, water, a blanket, and a sedative. There were a dozen reclining chairs along with a TV and a gaming system. I was to stay here until morning. I was the only one there. They woke me up at 3:00 in the morning to do their first assessment which I really don’t remember except for being woken up and they had to do a body mark check. Kind of like examining your rental car for damage before you leave with it.
I went back to try and sleep in the uncomfortable recliner until they woke me at 10:00 the next morning to bring me to my unit floor. It had been just about 24 hours.
End of day 0.