It has been 8 years now. I was working at a media group in Ohio. The head of Customer Insights & Analytics was retiring in a couple of weeks.There was an opportunity for me to take over a few of his areas of work, when he left. I began training with him, 2-3 hrs every day.
When we had had an hour or so of brain- bending statistics and analytics, he would stop to tell me about his daughter's wedding, a week after his retirement date, smiling war to ear - our conversations frequently interrupted by phone calls from wedding planners, caterers etc. He said his wife had enough on her plate as it is and so he had taken over coordinating a few bits for the wedding. With the same passion he taught me statistics, he also explained to me why his daughter's choice of white lillies was perfect for that time of the year and how it perfectly complimented her wedding gown. That afternoon when he didn't show up at the conference room for our post-lunch training session, I thought his appointment with the caterer must have over run. But I never saw him again. He drove to a nearby lake, parked his car, walked to the bank of the lake and put a gun to his temple and pulled the trigger. He died. He killed himself. As a person who had spent the last few hours of his life with him, I struggled immensely to come to terms with what he had done. I retraced our conversations for days to see if I could have picked up on anything as a clue. I found nothing. May be there was nothing. May be there were huge gaping holes behind the happy, warm facade...may be I missed it. Why did he feel that it was easier to pull the trigger than to talk to someone? How sadly desperate must he have been to feel there was no other way out? The police found a sorry note addressed to his wife, from the car. His wife of 35 years had a one word note from him to explain what he had done! ************ It's important to tell our boys it's ok to not be ok. It's important to have real conversations at home. It's hugely important not to shame the fragile courage of the people who say they are considering/seeking help for a mental issue. While we tell our boys that it's important to win, be happy, confident etc let's also give them the courage to lose, be scared, be sad and feel blue