I was celebrating my Second Amendment Right to shoot up a bunch of paper targets with my assault rifle style bang stick this morning (way cool, and very therapeutic, I must say) at the local shoot 'em up range. The place is run by three Vietnam vets (2 Army, one Navy, all non-coms). As I was setting up my stuff, I noticed one of the fellows, Mike, run out the front of the building, jump in his truck, and speed away. Didn't make an impression, figured he left his coffe pot turned on at home or something.
About 20 minutes later, one of his buds came out and announced on the PA system that Mike's wife had called, and that their son, a 20 year old Specialist in the Army stationed in German, had swallowed a bottle of pills. He didn't elaborate on what the result was, but from the look on his face, it wasn't good.
Suicides in the ranks always increase during time of actual conflict. I've seen a lot of coverage of suicide rates, especially in the Army during OEF and OIF. Lots of hand wringing and elaboration by talking heads about the cause(s) - but regardless, it is repititon of a pattern that has been repeated in all modern conflicts. If did not know this man, barely know of his father, so I have no idea what demons he was running from. He succeeded - he got away from them, and now his family will have to suffer the consequences for the rest of their lives.
Later in the day, I visited the lady who cuts my hair for a much needed whacking. She is big into horses and riding. Instead of the normal small talk about NASCAR and such, she told me of a young lady she had known through her horse back riding. 19 years old, beauty queen, champion rider, homecoming queen - beautiful All American girl. The only blemish was an 11 month old son out of wedlock.
A week ago, this experienced rider got on a new horse. Something spooked it, and it took off. She fell, her foot caught in a stirrup. A half mile later when they finally got the horse stopped, the girl's head was caved in like a burst melon. The worst part was her body was still alive - the parents had to make the gut wrenching decision to pull the plug later that day at the hospital.
I don't have anything profound to say. I was just struck by the opposites of their deaths. One threw his life away on purpose. The other had it jerked from her in a moment of tragic accident. The results are the same - two grieving families.
Be thankful for your days on this Earth, folks. You never know when it will end.