Drug addiction suicide: The taking of one’s own life is one of the great tragedies of the human experience. When I was growing up I had a friend named “Gary,” who was a year young than me. He was a terrific athlete, an especially gifted football player, and well liked by kids in the school and the people in our small town.
He was smart, funny and just a nice guy. A couple of years after high school, I received a letter from my mother, who told me that Gary had committed suicide.
Based to my mom’s letter, Gary had started using drugs and saw no way out…another death caused by drug addiction suicide.
I don’t have all of the details of this story, as in that time, drug addiction and suicide was foreign subjects for people who lived in a small, Midwestern village. My mother wrote that he used marijuana. He took his own life.
Likely scenario for this drug addiction suicide sad story
I never knew the complete story, as I was gone for many years, but allow me the license to fill in some of the holes with probable pieces of information, which may explain how it was that such a promising young life would be lost so early to drug addiction suicide.
If Gary was using marijuana on a regular basis he probably would have learned by experience that, like alcohol, more drugs are required as the user goes down that path.
Recapturing that “high” he experienced after his first encounter with the drug would become more difficult, and he might have smoked pot, while drinking to achieve the same effect.
We were growing up in the 1960’s, and I recall some kids experimenting with LSD or perhaps mescaline. One scenario that I thought over the years when thinking about Gary was the possibility that while under the influence of marijuana or alcohol, his guard was lowered and he tried LSD. He might have had a bad trip, and while in the grips of that bad trip, took his own life as a means to escape.
Rarely does anyone know the whole story of drug addiction suicide
My parents chose to believe that he had smoked marijuana, became addicted and killed himself because he couldn’t shake the addiction. We never really knew.
What we also do not know is why Gary was using to begin with. It was counter to what he stood for. He was a jock, and coached the football team after he graduated from our high school. Something is missing from his story of drug addiction suicide.
Was he using for pleasure, or did he use to numb emotional pain? We’ll never know. The drug use was probably a major contributing factor to his suicide for several reasons.
Drug abuse alters brain chemistry
Drug abuse contributes to the alteration of brain chemistry. Suicide is a very real possibility when the mind is functioning under the influence of the drug, thoughts become irrational and reality is thrown out the window as the user experiences the effects of the drug. Fear, anxiety and a variety of negative thoughts at times can cascade while under the influence.
Why are drug/alcohol abusers more susceptible to Drug Addiction Suicide?
Let’s take a look at some of the possible causes of suicide to see how addicts could be more vulnerable to this tragedy. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), substance abuse counselors need “to be aware of depression and suicide risk in their adolescent patients.”
Kids are at risk. University of Pittsburgh doctors Thomas Kelly, Duncan Clark and others observed that from 1991-2000, 87%of the drug abusing adolescents they studied who had attempted suicide were also diagnosed with major depression. Among those who did not try suicide, 40% were diagnosed with depression. Drug addiction suicide and dression are commonly link, click here for more information What was going on in Gary’s life that caused Drug Addiction Suicide?
Gary might have lost something valuable, like a relationship. Sometimes that loss is imaginary, but it is very real to the person. If a close friend committed suicide, that could trigger the action.
Firearms commonly used in drug addiction suicide
Some type of firearm is the most likely means a person will use to kill themselves. Approximately 60% of suicides are done this way, and older people are more likely to use a firearm than younger people. Overdosing on medication is common, as is “suicide by cop” that we see on the nightly news, as a person decides to have a shooting confrontation with the police.
If a person does not suffer from mental illness, does not take drugs and has a strong family/friend support system, the chances of suicide are greatly diminished. What hurts so bad that death is the only answer?
Many victims don’t seek help
Sadly, so many people who choose to end their life, who make that rash and permanent decision, never consult a professional in the months and weeks leading up to the act. People will tend to talk to people they are close to, like a family member or a friend.
Perhaps they may be observed getting their affairs in order, or there is a sudden interest in seeing friends and family members. But suicide is largely an impulsive act. Removing objects, such as firearms, dangerous chemicals, medicines, etc. may be helpful if one suspects a suicide attempt is possible.
There is no substitute for
Vicious One-Two Punch
No parents should have to bury their children. I can’t think of anything more painful. A dear friend from my days in the auto racing business called with dreadful news last week—his 44 year old son had committed suicide. The dreadful action was the culmination of two years of struggle, pain and isolation.
My friend was nearly inconsolable when he met with me the day after. He is one of those people who is always smiling, always has something good to say to you and will offer the shirt off his back to anyone in need.
There was none of that.
“What do I do now?” he asked holding his head in his hands.
“(My son) had two really hard years, but we recently spend a lot of time together and I told him ‘let me help we can go through this together.’ But he never told me what was wrong.” His wife was numb. She tried her best to hold back tears and not show the obvious pain she was experiencing. Her son, her first born, did not let her into his inner self either. She tried to console her husband.
The young man’s younger sister likewise tried to process the event, looked to me and asked, “Do people who commit suicide automatically go to hell?”
Drug Addiction Suicide is a brutal, abrupt and devastating
Suicide is a brutal, abrupt and devastating solution to a problem. When there is no possible alternative, no remedy, no way to turn, people take their own lives. In the case of my friend’s son, it was a triple threat that led to the end of his life—depression, alcoholism and addiction to crack cocaine.
No one knew the root of the depression, as he would not share with anyone, including his girlfriend of the last ten years. She explained that he always drank too much and it was just the last couple of years that he had been doing the crack. Like so many countless thousands of wives and girlfriends, she didn’t know what to do about it.
Drug Addiction Suicide: No One Knew What To Do?
She wanted to keep the relationship, so she became an enabler. And, like those countless thousands of others, she didn’t know that she could turn to groups like Al-anon to get help. Like his family, she is left asking questions, such as, “What could I have done differently?”
Left to their own devices, people always search for their own solutions. My friend’s son was no different. There had been trips to treatment centers, but all treatment options must have been rejected. I was told repeatedly that he tried, but always failed. I was trying to fit the pieces together.
I knew this young man since his childhood. He had a remarkable talent for restoring classic cars, as his bodywork was superb and even his father, who was a master of the trade, said he learned from his son.
Drug Addiction Suicide.. A LONG, slow road!
We worked hard and played hard, so his road to alcoholism and the point of where his life was out of control was rather long and slow. He had some scrapes with the law and had gotten into trouble, but he had a kind of boyish charm and he’d give you that smile.
Somewhere along the line something happened. The alcohol would no longer numb the pain inside. He could tolerate large amounts of beer and liquor; nothing brought relief.
His girlfriend said he started the crack cocaine one day and never stopped. She said he became depressed and could not sleep. Up to the moment of his death, he had not slept for eight days. Even when he did sleep, according to his mother, it was not like he had slept at all.
She tried to help him through it, but his answer to her was always, “You don’t understand.”
His girlfriend said she could no longer take it, and had not been seeing him for three months.
The toxic effects of heavy, long-term alcohol use, coupled with the highly-addictive and damaging effects of crack cocaine, led to a troubled and tortured mind. He knew something was wrong, but he refused to allow anyone inside. One day he just ran out of answers and saw no other options.
His parents wanted me to do the funeral. To ease the pain of the moment, we allowed ourselves to reminisce. But it always got back to their son and they kept asking questions like, “Will God forgive him?” They are both people of faith and were clinging to the hope that God would be merciful.
So many look for answers and solutions. Joe Herzanek’s book, “Why Don’t They Just Quit?” is an excellent resource. Like my friend’s son, Joe had his addictions, but unlike my friend’s son, Joe found powerful solutions, not only for himself, but for his loved ones.
What seemed impossible became reality. My friend told me the story of his son, others added their experiences, and I came away with such a feeling of empathy and overwhelming sadness. There are solutions. There are treatment options. Recovery is possible. Sadly, people look for their own answers.
Drug Addiction Suicide is a VERY REAL Possibility
While this site is devoted to drug abuse and addiction, suicide is a distinct possibility when things go wrong. Things do go wrong and it isn’t just “the other guy.” It’s you, the person you love, or somebody you know. Getting back to an earlier theme we established, people are body, mind and spirit. All three have to be treated.
Help Resources, if you know someone who you think may be in trouble now PLEASE call one of the numbers below!!
National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (784-2433)
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
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- Matthew 7:7-8
Dr. Al Wilson discusses harm reduction as a treatment option in addiction recovery, this week on Recovery Now!