For the previous three weeks, I sat surrounded by ultimate despair. It was inescapable in a courtroom where everything revolved around one storyline -- kid grows up…kid goes to war…kid comes back damaged…kid abuses and kills.
Debating to what extent John Thuesen's mental illnesses led to this tragedy isn't something I want to do, but to deny they played some role would seem ignorant to me. Were they mitigating circumstances? Twelve jurors said no.
Millions of Americans suffer from depression, and the bravest people this country has to offer are coming back from defending our freedoms and the freedoms of others with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I grew up in a military family. Those who wear the uniform are double-tough, but they're trained not to let you know they're vulnerable, even though they might be vulnerable on an incomprehensible level.
Depression and PTSD are just two mental illnesses. Not one that you could name is something the sufferer asks for. Unfortunately, the sufferer often doesn't ask for help either. Unfortunately, warning signs may slide past those closest to the sufferer.
And what are we left with then? The potential is unsettling at best.
And asking for help is tough. I'll attest to that. During a rough patch in my own life, I decided that I needed a little help to get through some things. It was a humbling experience, but what I gained through it, including the support of some amazing friends, has made me much better and stronger.
There are so many people that are in far more dire straits than me, and who need far more help than I needed. If you feel called to do so, the head of your place of worship surely will listen. Counselors in your area are easily found in the phone book.
The United Way is available to you by simply dialing 2-1-1.
For veterans, there's a relatively new tool at your disposal - the Veterans Crisis Hotline, (877) VET2VET.
For mothers that may be suffering from the common postpartum depression, you can call (800) PPD-MOMS.
And there is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-TALK.
There are people all around us that need a helping hand, but they don't ask for it, or others don't offer it, or both.
Lives can be saved.
I learned that over these past three weeks, when a hero became a villain…maybe a sympathetic one to some, but one whose actions left two people void of life, and so many others void of the lives they once had.
Sadly, it could happen again...so don't let it happen to you.