We need to start doing better. We need to learn how to support one another instead of tearing each other down. In a world where the only way out is through, it’s important to back up our brothers and sisters instead of pushing them out of the way to reach the top.
My name is Emily Agruss. I am a former military and fire wife. On September 9, 2016, my husband, Joshua Agruss, passed away following a fatal relapse of his addiction to prescription pain medication. Josh experienced a lot of trauma in his 33 years of life – much of it related to his time serving our country in Iraq and working as a firefighter and paramedic. The cultural norms of our society are currently placing a mostly negative stigma on the heroes of our nation not to seek help when they are struggling. As a direct result of this, my husband suffered in silence with symptoms of severe post-traumatic stress for many years. He never felt safe enough to ask for help. He lived in constant fear of being determined unfit for duty, being harassed for not being able to “suck it up” and from losing his job and the ability to help others – the one thing that got him out of bed each morning. This mentality is what is destroying the lives of countless individuals. It’s what is leaving thousands of spouses and children without a husband/wife and father/mother. Continue reading “For the Sake of Our Nation’s Heroes ~ A Widow’s Story”→
Suicide. What does that word mean to you? Do you think it would change if someone close to you died by suicide? Think about that for a minute. Think about if you worked in a high stress job day in and day out with the training and conditioning to believe that you cannot feel sad or depressed or you would be considered or seen as weak.
Think about what it would be like to be a police officer or first responder. Think about how each day you see people at their worst. Think about how people do not call first responders when they are having a good day or just to say hi. Think about seeing things no one should ever see in their lifetime over and over again, and not being able to express how deep it may hurt you or sadden you. How would you deal with that? How would you handle depression or PTSD as a result of the job you do and not being able to go to your co-workers without being stigmatized or taken off of the road for fear of being a liability? Continue reading “The First Responders Mental Health Stigma: Can It Be Changed?”→
An open letter to a friend who is struggling with addiction.
I think of you often. Tonight, I decided to put my thoughts on paper.
When I was in my early forties, I was a young wife and mother with three small children. Due to circumstances at that time, I planned my suicide because I thought that everyone would be better off without me. I felt hopeless. Helpless. I believed I was a failure. To my children. To my husband. To everyone I loved.
That changed one morning. I was determined to make something of my life. I vowed that I would never let anyone suffer alone with depression without offering them my help.
I know your life On earth was troubled And only you could know the pain You weren’t afraid to face the devil You were no stranger to the rain
Oh, how we cried the day you left us We gathered round your grave to grieve ~ Go Rest On the Mountain lyrics, Vince Gill
Although Tim Casey and I had never met in person, we had a long-standing friendship through emails and phone calls. Several years ago, I received his first email. He had attached an article he wrote about his struggles as a firefighter; the nightmares, his addiction to alcohol, and his suicide attempt. He wanted to share his story in an effort to touch one firefighter, officer or other first responder who was struggling with these same demons. He felt it was his duty as someone in recovery to tell them “help is available”.
Thank you, Tim, for your friendship and your efforts to help your brothers and sisters. May you find peace, at last, on that mountain.
A very close friend of mine encouraged me to visit the Warrior’s Heart website, and review them as a potential first responder facility for addiction and post traumatic stress. I called the 800 number and was pleasantly surprised to be speaking with Josh, a co-founder. He gave me a clear and concise description of their mission as well an overview of the day-to-day activities at Warrior’s Heart. I knew in my heart that I was talking with someone genuine. This place is something very special.
Once upon a time, the stories will tell
About a place here on Earth, between heaven and hell.
Where one need not sleep, to have the bad dreams
Because the flashbacks seem real, the smells and the screams.
For despite valiant efforts, sometimes they lose.
For some there are answers, but not many clues.
The cards stacked against them, the odds not very good
No… they didn’t give up, but did all that they could.
Everyone somber, a tear here and there.
Others are angry, some had The Thousand Yard stare.
“Welcome to Shadow Land”, a voice whispered softly.
“It’s a dark place to be, and the shadows are costly.” Continue reading “The Lights in Shadow Land”→
Suicide is a serious topic that we rarely discuss. Yet, each year thousands of adults and children either attempt or complete suicide to resolve problems or put an end to emotional pain. As a result of their deaths, surviving family members and friends not only grieve but must cope with feelings of guilt and anger as well.
According to theAmerican Association of Suicidolgy, statistics show that in 2014 approximately 42,773 people completed suicide [a minimal rate increase was seen from 2013 to 2014, continuing the recent rate increases after long-term trends of decline]. Suicide was the tenth leading cause of adult deaths in the United States; homicide ranked seventeenth. Specifically, more Americans kill themselves than are killed by others. 3.4 male deaths by suicide for each female death by suicide. An alarmingly high rate of suicide deaths was seen in young adults age 15-24 (second leading cause of death for this age group). Approximately 1,069,325 suicide attempts are made annually.
Survivors “know someone who died by suicide” and Suicide Loss Survivors are “those bereaved of suicide”. Research-based estimate suggests that for each death by suicide 147 people are exposed (6.3 million annually), and among those, 18 experience a major life disruption (1Cerel, 2015).
In many ways, this seems the most tragic form of death. Certainly it can entail more shock and grief for those who are left behind than any other. And often the stigma of suicide is what rests most heavily on those left behind.
Suicide is often judged to be essentially a selfish act. Perhaps it is. But the Bible warns us not to judge, if we ourselves hope to escape judgment. And I believe this is one area where that Biblical command especially should be heeded.Continue reading “When Someone Takes His Own Life”→