The Almost-Suicide of My Daughter, prt. 4
The plan was to send Anna to an in-patient treatment facility after she was discharged from the hospital. The hospital had plans to send Anna to a place that her mom was not comfortable with. I shared Christy’s opinion, but there’s only one mama bear. Thankfully she stood her ground and insisted on doing research and finding the best facility we could find. We chose White Pines in Saginaw.
Anna was discharged and wheeled on a stretcher out the door and directly into an ambulance. It was as dreary as a day could be, cold rain coming down like sharp nails. Fitting, it seemed. I climbed up in the ambulance with Anna, and Christy drove behind us and we made the hour-long trip to Saginaw.
First the search. Anna was taken into a room and searched for weapons, substances, and anything else that was other than Anna. Nothing found, of course. Then intake began. We answered question after question after question.
“History of drug use?”
“Problems in school?”
“None. She’s an honor student.”
“You mean other than the fact that our daughter nearly killed herself? None other than that.”
“Problems with friendships/social support?”
“Ever attempted suicide before?”
“History of psychiatric problems?”
“Any immediate and specific cause of the attempt?”
Finally the nurse put down her pen and looked compassionately across the table at Anna and said, “Sweetie, what are you doing here? You have a family that adores you. You are beautiful and intelligent. You have good friends. You go to a good school and are active in things you love. What landed you here?”
Of course, that was the question we had wondered about from the beginning. Why? How did this happen to our family? What was so bad about her life that she would want to end it? How could she not think of us? Didn’t she know our family would never recover from losing her — especially this way?
“Sweetie, what you are doing here?”
“I tried to kill myself. I don’t know why. I just didn’t want to be alive anymore.”
That’s for sure. We found out over the course of this experience that Anna had planned on killing herself for a year, and that a few weeks before the attempt she knew exactly what day she would do it and how. On Thursday, June 23, our family came home late from setting up for Brittany’s open house. Anna took a shower and, as usual, came to me with her hair wrapped in a towel, kissed me on the cheek,and said, “Goodnight daddy, I love you.”
“I love you too, baby girl. See you tomorrow.”
“Okay,” she said. Then she walked up the stairs to her room, having swallowed in the bathroom, just moments before, enough medication to nearly kill her.
She wrote a four-page suicide note and left it on her nightstand for us to find the next morning. It contained a unique message for each family member. She wrote to me, “Daddy, please know this isn’t your fault. I love you so much, and I know you’ll be okay eventually. At least I won’t be around to disappoint you any more.”
Number of times I had ever told that child I was disappointed in her in 14 years: 1. Timing of that remark: About three hours before her suicide attempt.
As I said, and as she has said, she had set the date for this two weeks earlier, so ,my comment had nothing to do with it. And I didn’t say she was a disappointment to me, I said I was disappointed with her behavior. But had we lost our daughter, this would have been little consolation.
What if we all only said things we knew we could be completely okay with if we never saw that person again? Half of what gets said right now would never get said because it’s stupid, or meaningless, or petty. I have a feeling a lot of “thank you’s” and “I’m sorry’s” and “I love you’s” would get said. People would know how loved and appreciated they are. We would honor people before their funerals. We would live with cleaner consciences and deeper relationships.
Anyway, I digressed. But this is the stuff I have thought about constantly. It has changed my world view forever. Life is precious. You never know when someone is going to suddenly make an exit. I’m doing it again.
I can’t say anything else about that note. If I had to name one worst moment of this experience, the one that has probably scarred me most deeply, that was it. That’s all I got to say about that.
Within an hour of getting her to White Pines we were leaving her there, watching her walk down the hall, sobbing, to her room. The walk from the intake room to the car felt like the longest walk of our lives.