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January 18, 2013


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Jody Stepnowski

How awful! How sad and miserable that young man must have been. Yet - do not feel you could have done much differently - we moms can tend to feel as if we could have, should have sensed something or done more or somehow solved every problem that comes with our perceived purview. He was not your responsibility - the rest of the students who would benefit from the program were.


Oh, crap. OH, CRAP. This is really, really hard stuff you're dealing with. My thoughts are with you and may time bring some healing and peace.


First, do you know if you have whooping cough? Just saying......

And that is heavy, and painful, and sad and tragic stuff. It is important to remember not to feel superior when we are proved correct about the self destructive behavior of others. I battle with this with my stepchildrens mother who is a severe alcoholic. It is so easy to feel relieved when someone who has made our job or life difficult proves that they couldn't be trusted. But that happiness at others failure and pain does ourselves no good at all.
On the other hand jenn, when you do important and difficult work, there will be oversights and mistakes. It would be much easier emotionally to manage warehouse inventory, but not fulfilling.


The problem is that the veterans at the biggest risk of suicide are the ones least likely to get help.
Returning veterans sometimes must enter a job market where they have no civilian contacts, no word of mouth to help them along, and no real coping skills to deal with the hurt and pain that they feel. And they face real prejudice from the fact that they are a veteran, despite all the 'support the troops' stickers you see on cars.
There was nothing you could do to stop his decision to kill himself. You weren't actively involved in his life, and there is no way you could have known.
I hope your school has some kind of support available to students like this one. If not, you might have the number of the local VA or base handy to give to others who might be in the same boat. There are also support groups of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. Or it might be worth it to have someone come and talk to all of you about PTSD, returning veterans, and the like. You say you gave short shrift to his pain and underlying issues - I would venture to say that was because you didn't have a framework in which to place them. When you have some understanding of veterans issues, and of the mental health issues that can surround them, it might be easier to feel like you have a better grip on what is worrisome and what is not.
I'm sorry if I sound a little vehement about this..It is a subject close to my heart.


God, I am so sorry! You were right, and in fact may have ended up saving lives, but I can imagine it feels like crap. God, we need so much more real support for returning vets!

Karen (formerly kcinnova)

War is hell and our country's involvement in the Middle East has brought hell home with many, many servicemen and women.

As awful as this is (and it is AWFUL), it was not your fault. From what you write, I don't think he was interested in inflicting his pain on anyone else. Not that I'm an expert.
Navhelowife is much more up on this than I am, and Molly has good advice.

But I can say that reading this was very much like watching a couple of issues of the TV series "Parenthood" this past fall. I suppose that means they are true-to-life. And this particular scenario stinks.


I have had two co-workers over the years ultimately kill themselves as the final end to destructive behavior that got them fired several months/one year after they got fired (depression and alcoholism, drugs). I know how you feel.

This story illustrates, as many many stories do, that we do a piss poor job of treating mental illness in this country, and still have a giant stigma around it that prevents people from getting help, most especially for veterans but really for all.


And I meant to say I hope your cough gets better soon. Because feeling physically icky, for me, always makes the emotional toll that much worse.


That's hard to process. I feel for you.

gary rith

I just caught up with the post below on SB and what a nice followup and summary of the year :) I remember it all, but this explains it.
Sadly the marine here did what so many have done, like an epidemic! Like you, I try hard not to judge difficult people and have more give and take... but what a sad story his is.


What a horrible situation. I wish he had been able to get help. I can understand why you'd say you didn't have your finest moment last week, but you are human. And you'll learn from this. And had you any idea of the extent of his problems, I can't help but think that you would have tried to help him (or find the resources that could).

Aunt Snow

Oh, how very sad. And what a time for it to happen when you are sick and vulnerable.


I understand how you're feeling. It is so hard, with people like that not to resist the drama they will bring to our lives. But, yes, there is so much pain. I haven't even been able to get to a place of telling my story, so I think you are very brave. And, I agree with lanes, if you realized he was at that point, you would have tried to help.

Busy Bee Suz

I am so sorry to hear this. Surely you did not think something like this would or could happen. I wish he could have found the help he needed; so sad.
I hope you are feeling better by now. I know that you will for sure share with us the reasoning for the colonoscopy? Is it because you are getting closer to the big five-oh?


I hope your cold gets better soon. Also, it is understandable that you feel badly about the young man's passing, but how could you have known that was the reason he was not there? As others have pointed out, I am sure that if you would have known he was to that point you would have tried to do something to help.


So sad :(


It is so sad and happens much too frequently.

I think that seeing he was "working the system" rather than working to go forward with his life would make most people uncomfortable - I don't think you should be too hard on yourself.

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