Please, get help
This column is about you, particularly if you are considering suicide. Please stop. Please read this from my heart.
The family will not be ‘better off without you.’ In fact it would make their lives a great deal more difficult. I know.
When I was 10 my mom killed herself with a shotgun. It was the first Saturday of summer vacation and she wanted me to help her clean the house. I begged her to let me go to my friend’s and said I would help her on Monday. She relented without much of a debate. All I could see was an entire summer before me — plenty of time to even do deep cleaning. My brother went to a 4-H judging school at a nearby ranch, leaving mom and dad at home.
Dad was outside and he heard the shot. He went in and found her.
Please — imagine that scene. The absolute horror of anyone finding a loved one like that. Please, please talk to someone, a friend, pastor, counselor or a neighbor. My family is six generations in the same county, always in agriculture. We have seen many tight and scary times. Except for my mom, we all came through it.
We built a modest FHA-financed house in 1957 and she died in 1962 so it wasn’t because she was living in squalor. We raised sugar beets on an irrigated project beginning in 1954. The beets were shipped by train to Belle Fourche, S.D., where the U&I Sugar Company had a processing plant. Severe drought occurred in 1960 and 1961. While we had irrigation water out of a Bureau of Reclamation project dam in 1960, the year 1961 had very little water left. Our crops, and those of the others on the irrigation project, failed. The sugar beet company pulled out.
Things were bleak but mom and dad persevered through diversification. In later May of 1962 it started raining, a lot. My mom was diagnosed with lupus, which at that time was a sentence to a slow, debilitating death, which with today’s medicines is no longer the case.
The next day, even as the rains that would greatly help the farm continued to fall, she shot herself.
Think for a moment of how devastating that was to a 10-year-old girl, not to mention my 13-year-old brother and my dad.
From one farmer to another I know things are really tough; we had a Grade A dairy for five years after my husband and I were married. As farmers we know — right along with you — that there are so many things out of our control. Many are seemingly unfair. But please do not add to the burden of your family. Believe me, death doesn’t make anything easier for them.
Please, go get help. ❖
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Our ranch is on WG Flat, one of the landmarks of the early cattle ranchers on open range in southwestern South Dakota. The WG Ranch headquarters is one-half mile from our home. In the distance…