The following is an excerpt from an article written by Shannon Dawson about her husband Rick's depression and suicide in 2013. Shannon will be a speaker at the annual Mental Health America of Indiana Annual Symposium on Friday, June 13th. Join us to hear more of her story and how she and her children have been able to use this tragedy to help others. Register under the EVENTS tab - hope to see you there!
We had never lived extravagantly as a family, and as parents had never tried to hide from our children that many of the things they wished for we did without because we simply couldn't afford them. Yet in the months, then years, following the loss of Rick's job at WISH-TV, the kids began to feel the financial pinch more acutely.
They would lament when we weren't going on vacation or bemoan another problem that went unrepaired at our old farmhouse; they'd have to adapt to a vehicle being driven until it literally fell apart. I knew we still had it pretty good. I would often find myself reminding them that we were okay. Who were we to complain when other friends were in direr straights, forced from their homes, being diagnosed with serious illnesses, losing loved ones? We were good. No one was sick, no one had died.
But someone was sick.
And someone did die.
My loving, funny, talented husband killed himself because he suffered from depression. So many of our friends and colleagues were so stunned at the turn of events that I felt as bad for them as I did for us. Why — and when — had Rick taken a 180-degree turn from the man they knew? The man I married was a happy, adventurous guy who loved learning new things, loved to travel, loved his three children desperately, and loved, loved, LOVED telling a story. Depression was the greatest of the factors that folded into the picture of the man Rick had become before his death; ultimately it was his sense of personal failure, his loss of hope that stole any light that could have lifted him out of it.
Don't get me wrong: Rick was far from a paragon. We came into the marriage knowing we each had a considerable temper. I've never been against arguing. I think arguing can be productive when done properly. Rick was not a fair arguer, and while he wasn't averse to admitting when he was wrong, he really, really wanted to be right. In his career as a journalist, accountability loomed large. In life, I thought he was overly willing to assign blame, to others and to himself.
For a guy who could build a great relationship, he didn't mend well the ones that went awry or fell apart because of his own lack of attention. He wanted to be able to fix them, but in the last years of his life he became more and more haunted by the isolation he was building around himself. He saw himself as diminished. He didn't want friends and loved ones to see him that way. He felt he had lost face, lost ground in troubled relationships he might otherwise have healed.
Rick didn't really have a public persona versus a private one — no more than the next person, anyway. He was pretty much what you met, the guy you got to know. He was interesting, smart, charming, a good listener. He took his responsibility as a journalist so seriously that there was no budging him on ethics. The structure of that world fit him wonderfully, although he came to it by something of a happenstance. Rick actually entered IU as a freshman Fine Arts major. He was a gifted artist, his pen-and-ink drawings something to behold. The 1980s version of the art scene didn't seem to suit his personality and he eventually wound up with a double major in Journalism and Psychology. I have a houseful of his awards showing that he'd made a good choice.
I am still often asked if Rick's suicide makes me angry. No, it just makes me sad. When I found his body, I just kept telling him I was sorry, over and over. I was sorry that he'd felt that was his only choice, because it wasn't. I'm sorry we lost a good man, I'm sorry we lost our future together, because we didn't have to.
You can read the rest of this story at Nuvo.net