By Staff Sgt. Daniel Phelps, 94th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 31, 2016
DOBBINS AIR RESERVE BASE, Ga. -- Last week I received devastating news. My wife and I were sitting on the couch, watching “The Voice” and perusing Facebook during commercial breaks, when I came across a status that shocked me to my core.
A friend posted a status that our friend, Jeremy took his life. I couldn’t believe it. I had just seen Jeremy posting on social media not that long ago. The last time I saw him in person was when I was in Kansas City a year ago for my brother’s wedding.
I began digging through Facebook for any information on him and what happened to assure myself that this couldn’t be real. Finally, I came across Jeremy’s page and saw a post from his dad confirming my deepest fear.
Jeremy had taken his own life the night before, and his body was discovered this morning. I told my wife the news. She looked at me with the same expression I first felt – utter disbelief. So, I showed her the status from his dad. Her disbelief also turned to shock.
As we reflected on our friendship with Jeremy, it was fairly easy to see the path that led him to this decision. A few years ago, a friend of mine and Jeremy’s put himself in a situation where he forced a cop to shoot him, what is often referred to as suicide by cop. At the time, Jeremy lived with him and was a witness to that fateful event. I can’t imagine what that was like.
Many of us in that friend circle had our worlds shaken by that incident – Jeremy more than anyone. For a long time Jeremy threw himself into alcohol. After a while, Jeremy seemed to be recovering. He found a girlfriend and they grew serious together. They moved in, adopted a couple of puppies and were discussing marriage. This was the state Jeremy was in the last time I saw him before I moved to Atlanta. He was genuinely happy and getting healthy.
A few months ago, I found out that he had broken up with his girlfriend. From what I can tell, after that moment his life started spiraling out of control. It was painful for me to live half way across the country, viewing his struggle from a social media window and not be able to be there. I don’t know if anyone else tried to reach out to him.
His brother said that Jeremy was struggling with some deep, dark secret issue and was unwilling to talk to anyone about it. At one time, my wife tried to talk to him before the latest spiral to see how he was doing. Jeremy refused to admit anything was wrong.
Jeremy didn’t try to get help and denied there was a problem. Now, it’s too late. I can’t help but wonder what his life would be like if he had sought help sooner. Maybe he and his girlfriend would be married now. Maybe they would have a baby on the way.
If you are struggling with an issue, please, talk to someone. Find a friend. Dobbins has a fantastic director of psychological health with years of experience. Her number is 678-655-3165. The chaplain’s office is also a great resource. They can be reached at 678-655-4955.
If you know someone who is struggling, try to get them to open up and seek help. Do everything you can for them. Life is precious. Help is there.