Post Letter: Help is out there for the emotionally distraught

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I was saddened to learn of the 19-year-old student who fell or jumped off the bridge on Richland Avenue on Monday here in Athens. My heart goes out to his family and friends. I know that life can be tough and a constant struggle but we have to hang in there. There’s help out there. We have the Gathering Place, the Tri-County Mental Health and Counseling Services. Some may be afraid to seek out the help that is out there and we must encourage our loved ones to get help. But please don’t nag. That may be a turnoff for those that may be in crisis. My first experience with someone committing suicide was when I was in elementary school. What happened was that I had my girlfriend who was the same age that I was, and she and I were at my home after school. When she left my house as it was dark, we saw a coat on a tree on our property, but we didn’t think anything more about it. We had thought that my girlfriend had left her coat and would come back and get it in the morning. The next day, I went to school and my grandma went somewhere and as she was returning home, she saw the police and ambulance on our property and that’s when she learned that our neighbor had committed suicide by hanging himself on a tree on our property.

A friend of mine once told me that he was walking home in the early-morning hours to his place on Richland Avenue here in Athens, Ohio. He said in the incident he saw a girl sitting on the top of the ledge on the bridge over the Hocking River right next to what is now the Athens Richland Avenue roundabout and right next to Rt. 682 and The Ridges. He said he asked this girl what was wrong and what was up, and she responded to his question that she was from the country of Macedonia and they did this, sit on bridge ledges over rivers and look at the river all the time in her country. My friend said that a few days later, a friend of the girl who was on the ledge of the bridge saw him and came up to him and said, ‘Thank you, the other day you saved my friend from jumping off the bridge and committing suicide.”

A few years ago, me and the friend who saved the girl mentioned in the above case were sitting at a friend’s earlier in the week; a girl had committed suicide at a dorm here in Athens, Ohio on South Green on the OU campus. Her picture was in the local papers. Anyways, me and my friend were sitting at this friend’s, and I saw her (the girl who had committed suicide) and I said, ‘She’s here,” and he said, “Who?” and I told him what I had seen, and even though he did not see her like I had, he did see the rocking chair where I had seen her rocking back and forth as if someone was sitting there.

In one case, an ex-girlfriend of mine was suicidal and I tried to help her out, but nothing I was doing was working, so I went to get someone, telling her not to do anything to harm herself, and I summoned help, and they said they would be right there. I waited and waited, and no one came, and the second time I summoned help, I said that someone needed to help me out, and then help did arrive.

There is a lot of pressure being put on this (the next generation) of kids. But we all must hang tough and be strong. There is help out there. I have in my past been suicidal myself. Six years ago, when I was in a bad situation (a living hell aka. a living nightmare), I felt like there was no hope or no way out of the situation, and I felt that suicide was my only way out, but help sought me out, and I got the help that I needed. Two years ago was my last suicide attempt. I called someone and said my goodbyes and told them that I was going to end my life, but I got the help that I needed. The cops arrived five minutes later, after I had called the person and said my goodbyes to life.

There’s help out there when we’re struggling with life and in a crisis time. Some cities like Athens, Ohio have police that are trained specifically in crisis situations such as suicide attempts, and those officers  are Crisis Intervention Team trained. There’s help out there for our friends and loved ones who are suicidal or in crisis.

David E. Hartinger is an Athens resident.

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