He was sitting in his car with a loaded gun…

Story of Hope

He was sitting in his car with a loaded gun. A series of unsuccessful business ventures, problematic financial decisions, and the impending dissolution of his marriage left the caller, a middle-aged man, feeling hopeless and distressed. He was sitting in his car, writing a farewell letter to his family. A loaded gun was on the seat next to him.

Our crisis counselor talked with him for 90 minutes. First, he got the man to agree to place the gun in a less accessible location in his car. Then the two of them explored the caller’s world, his reasons to die and, slowly, his reasons to live. The caller said that he felt like a failure, especially considering the shame and wrath he anticipated from family members and friends once they knew the extent of his business and financial problems. He said that his children and his faith were the only things that kept him alive… After much discussion and rapport building, along with the beginning steps of safety planning, the man and our counselor agreed that he would go get something to eat and work out at his gym. The man promised not to kill himself during this time period. Reluctantly, he also promised to call back in two hours, and authorized our counselor to call him if he did not.

Two hours later, the man called back as promised. He was seated in his car, parked in front of his house. The same counselor talked with him for an hour, continuing to develop a plan that would keep the caller safe from acting on his suicidal thoughts. Midway through this call, the man’s teenage daughter came out to speak with him. Our counselor could hear the interaction and noted that the man clearly was affectionate and had a positive, loving relationship with his children. Returning to his cell phone, the man acknowledged his disbelief that he could ever dream of leaving his children who depended on him and loved him. He agreed to put the gun away in a safe place in the home, to connect with his church, and to explore several financial opportunities that might lighten his current concerns. Although he declined further follow-up calls, he said that he would call the Crisis Center again before acting on any suicidal thoughts, and he voiced gratitude for the kind words and care that he received.