Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

Suicide Prevention in the FIRE Community

This blog post is part of the 3rd Annual Suicide Prevention & Awareness Month blog tour. If you are feeling suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741.

 

Call it First World problems; the minor inconveniences of life: the traffic light turned red at the last moment, you’re surprised by a repair, you discover you have to work past the age of 30. We live in such opportune times it’s easy to forget real difficulties exist. Some right in our own communities.

September is National Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month and Melanie Lockert of Dear Debt is asking personal finance bloggers once again to take up the keyboard to prevent unnecessary tragedy. I participated in the first two Suicide Prevention Blog Tours but intended to sit this one out when I got the email. I had no idea what I wanted to write. I said what I needed to say and had no more to add to the heap of literature on suicide prevention. Then I walked to the mailbox.

A Difficult Weekend

The Suicide Prevention Blog Tour is designed to bring attention debt, depression and suicide. Some bloggers keep it simple, pushing the simple message of hope and encouragement. I prefer a longer emotional story to illustrate my point.

The statistics are damning. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among people in their early 20s and the overall rate of suicide increased 28% from 1999 to 20161. Mental health is a serious factor in suicide, but not always a factor. Complicating matters is that most suicide attempts are not the result of one issue only.

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. Debt is a leading cause of suicide. Debt help is available. Debt free. Debt freedom. #wealthyaccountant #debt #suicide #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #debtsnowball #debtfreeFinancial problems (the focus of the Suicide Prevention Blog Tour) are the fifth leading cause of all suicides1. Relationship problems are the leading cause. And that is where First World problems and a short walk to my mailbox collided.

Melanie’s email had already started sliding down the list of unanswered emails when I took that fateful walk to the roadside. Just in time for the Labor Day weekend, the current issue of National Geographic had arrived.

The cover of the magazine was disturbing, an ominous sign. This is the kind of reading I bury and get back to much later if ever. I normally read National Geographic from beginning to end religiously. This time I put the magazine next to my reading chair with the cover facing down. It was too hard to look at.

But like a Stephen King novel, it kept calling out to me. Slowly I paged through the magazine and gathered information on the disturbing cover. The story was about Katie Stubblefield and the face transplant she received.

I dared to start my routine read of the issue with the letter From the Editor and was in tears before I finished the letter I was so moved. I was vested in the story and the tragedy that brought this young woman into a nightmare I doubted I could ever personally survive.

20 Seconds that Changed a Life Forever

Katie was born to a loving family and grew to be a beautiful and intelligent woman. She was plagued with a perfectionist personality. When her perfect world started to crumble a final piece to the puzzle would put her face before the world.

Katie struggled to be the best at everything. One day she discovered messages on her boyfriend’s phone to another woman. He immediately broke up with her when she confronted him.

Katie went home and locked herself in the bathroom with her father’s rifle and cried. With no history of mental illness, depression or indication of suicidal tendencies, she put the barrel of the rifle under her chin and pulled the trigger.

But Katie did not die.

Her brother found her in a pool of blood, her face blown off from the blast. She was rushed to the hospital and stabilized. When the local medical community could do no more she was sent to the Cleveland Clinic.

I encourage you to read the September 2018 issue of National Geographic. Katie’s story is powerful and moving. Katie does get a face transplant from a woman who died of an overdose. The story cuts a wide wound in here (pointing to my chest). The words that stuck with me the most in the article were uttered by Katie’s mother, Alesia, “It was one moment. One moment, 20 seconds, changed our lives.”

Duty of the FI/RE2 Community

You would think a community of people well on their way toward financial independence would not have money problems so severe they would contemplate suicide. Unfortunately, many people who come to this community have had a traumatic life experience that forced them to reevaluate. These people are at risk of tripping over the cliff. Bloggers, podcasters and YouTubers of the community must always be cognizant of the people they serve lest they discover one day a promising life was ended because we took FI for granted.

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. Debt is a leading cause of suicide. Debt help is available. Debt free. Debt freedom. Debt snowball. IRS debt. #wealthyaccountant #debt #suicide #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #debtsnowball #debtfree #irsdebtEveryone is carrying a burden! Money can provide comfort and options in life, but it doesn’t change the strain of a serious medical situation. Divorce rips a family apart and the kids suffer most. Money will not salve that wound.

And mental health is a serious medical issue that money does not magically fix. Yes, wealth allows for most, if not all, medical options. Still, the depression can strike anyone at any time. Instead of shaking our heads and wondering why when we hear a person with financial independence and enjoying and early retirement puts a gun to their head, we should remember money didn’t make them sick; a medical condition did.

Maybe you’re lucky and don’t have depression. As a member of this community you are morally bound to help others who do suffer. Your wealth is not an invitation to unrestrained hedonism. When we see a fallen soul we are duty-bound to help. Like the military, we don’t leave one of our own on the battlefield.

Watchful Eyes

Nobody saw it coming when Katie Stubblefield snapped. There were signs in afterthought, but nothing anybody could have recognized. And that can happen. A singular event can trigger a massive negative response. It is hard to understand what can make us feel helpless and unwilling to continue on.

Fortunately, most people tell us they are walking into the dark. We must keep our eyes and ears open for the warning signs. Significant loss is a leading reason people tumble into the darkness. Depression can rear its ugly head for the first time after the loss of a loved one. Being shunned by people you love and respect can wreck devastation on the psyche.

I’ve been around this crowd long enough to know a few struggle with a heavy burden. Even our kind-hearted and fearless leader, Melanie, has struggled. She put debt behind her and discovered how deep the despair many feel with insurmountable financial problems. Melanie also suffered the loss of a loved one after a relatively long relationship. He decided to go his own way. I can’t imagine her pain. Still, I listen from a distance (mostly her online comments) for hints of trouble. Those closest to her should be even more vigilant.

As a community we are very fortunate. Even if we are deep in debt and taking our first steps toward freedom we are incredibly blessed! No matter how difficult the road ahead may seem, we know we don’t walk alone. There are numerous souls who have gone before willing to help, willing to lend a hand, to pull you up, to help you stand tall and straight.

Luck has Nothing to do with It

Katie did not get lucky. If she were lucky she would never have put the gun to her head. She will get a new lease on life. It will be anything but easy. The medical challenges ahead will never cease. After four years she finally has a face. The surgeries and pain and struggle will be relentless and unending. Building FI is similar in many ways. We work hard, save, invest and care deeply.

September is Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. Debt is a leading cause of suicide. Debt help is available. Debt free. Debt freedom. Debt snowball. IRS debt. Depression and mental health. #wealthyaccountant #debt #suicide #suicideawareness #suicideprevention #debtsnowball #debtfree #irsdebt #depressionPeople suffer for many reasons. Usually we can keep the demons under control. But everyone has a breaking point. Push hard enough far enough and the darkness wins. You can’t step back from the darkness alone. It is like a black hole with infinite power to draw you in.  If you ever reach that point, pray someone with the courage and the heart grabs you from behind and pulls you to safety.  No matter how much money you have or don’t have will make no difference.

The gun in Katie’s hands didn’t ask about her financial situation. The one bout of depression she had took control and changed her life forever. It is nothing short of a miracle she didn’t die that fateful day. Her family never left her side as she fought and still fights for life. The doctors worked miracles and have never stopped working to give Katie the life she deserves.

The only way any of us are safe from the darkness is if we all are committed to helping anyone at the brink. It is the only thing that makes us human; the true meaning of wealth; what it means to truly be financially independent.

 

Please, if you are suffering depression or suicidal thoughts, call either a local crisis hot line or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7, is confidential and free.

 

You are not in this alone.

 

1 National Geographic Magazine, September 2018, Page 89

2 Financial Independence/Early Retirement

 

Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Call 1-800-273-8255

Crisis Text Line — Text HOME to 741741

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Project Semicolon

CNQR

Open Path Collective — affordable therapy. You can also check your local college to see if their graduate program in counseling offers discounted sessions.

Debtors Anonymous

 

More Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Side Hustle Selling tradelines yields a high return compared to time invested, as much as $1,000 per hour. The tradeline company I use is Tradeline Supply Company. Let Darren know you are from The Wealthy Accountant. Call 888-844-8910, email Darren@TradelineSupply.com or read my review.

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. QuickBooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here. 

Our Heroes Have Failed Us

Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade were ripped from our lives in the past week in what early reports suggests are suicides. Robin Williams is another star extinguished before his time.

Kevin Spacey betrayed our trust along with a litany of actors and producers and comedians. It seems like an endless parade of successful men ran to the cliff like lemmings bent on self destruction.

Liz Taylor entertained us for decades. As a role model she left us with issues. Marriages came and went until she reached eight husbands over her lifetime. We see the same behavior today without the distraction of marriage in our modern starlets. Adored musicians race from one bed to the next until the world crashes in.

Closer to home we see bloggers and podcasters who failed us. Some crack under pressure while others lose themselves in drugs and cheap whisky. We idolize these people and want to be like them. Then, when we get a closer look, they have warts like the rest of us.

Friends and even parents can let us down. The perfect marriage collapses and nobody can figure out why. We watch as people we admire undertake destructive behavior. At some level it is entertaining. Deep down we know it ends badly.

We want our heroes to live forever. We want their example to help us live a better life. We want them to entertain us the way we remembered them at the height of their career.

Then something horrible goes wrong as we discover the emperor has no clothes.

Out of Left Field

Professionals who work with a lot of people for long periods of time start noticing patterns. In all the years I’ve been in practice only two clients ever surprised me with their divorce. In both cases I liked my client too much to see the forest from the trees. All the telltale signs were there to see if only I opened my eyes. A third case is impending. I didn’t see it coming, but it isn’t good.

My track record is pretty good. I can tell you within a few minutes of seeing a new client if their marriage or business will last and about how long it’ll last or how much wealth they’ll amass. Then I swing and catch air once every decade or so.

I’m not alone in this unique talent. Clients who are therapists tell me they tell the same thing, which begs the question: If I can see so clearly who will and will not succeed, why don’t I tell them so they can avoid the pain?

If only it were so easy! When it comes to financial matters I do speak up. I am brutally honest with clients contemplating an investment or planning a business venture. It’s rare, but I’ve helped clients I noticed were teetering on the emotional edge by recommending appropriate help. That is easy compared to telling a client their marriage doesn’t stand a chance in hell.

Two divorces surprised me. Not every client I had concerns over actually divorced (yet)! Investments are easy to advise on compared to interpersonal relationships. It’s not my place to warn clients they might not have a strong relationship.

Never Ending Failures

How can super successful people like Anthony Bourdain feel so low they feel the need to end their life? How can a loved rock star sink into drugs and other illicit behavior sure to destroy their career and health?

We can explain away the tragedy by blaming depression or other mental illness.  While I give credence to the explanation, I think a lot more is going on under the hood. Mental illness isn’t a good explanation for why a football mega star is caught beating his girlfriend in a public elevator. Mental illness doesn’t explain why seemingly good people turn dark when they become celebrities.

There s another explanation I want to explore.

Why Good People Do Bad Things

I notice something many people fail to realize: our heroes are normal people thrust into extraordinary circumstances. The international rock star, sports phenom, bestselling author, Hollywood celebrities and even bloggers are real people who were once something else.

Anthony Bourdain wasn’t always there helping us connect with food. Before he became a household name he was something else. Before fame he was a student and before that a child and before that an infant curious about the world around him. Something happened between then and here to cause him to take his own life. What could possibly have gone wrong?

First, it is unlikely a single defining moment which turns people down the wrong path. It can be a single event (divorce, illness, death of a loved one), but usually it is an accumulation of events that leads to their demise. It happens slowly so people adjust and accept the new behavior. Only after the defining moment is it clear—as hindsight so often is—do we recognize the problem.

But the real problem is that these are normal people! The demands on them once they gain fame must be crushing. Hell, your favorite accountant bends under pressure that wouldn’t even register on the scale real celebrities use just running a small business.

Another thing I’ve noticed is how small these people are in real life. Have you ever discovered an author, actor, musician or blogger you really connect with? Of course! Everyone has. We build up an impression of who and what these people are. Then we meet them in real life and they seem so small, so . . .  like everyone else, sans the press of people wanting their attention. Our heroes are frequently underwhelming when seen in real life. They are the furthest thing from a superhero. They just belt out blog posts or books, or act in movies or sing really good. Otherwise they are just like you and me.

Can We Help the People We Admire Survive?

Perception is what drives people to act the way they do. After the Plutus Award ceremony last year where this blog won the Best New Personal Finance Blog of the Year a few of us talked before heading to the party. Congratulations went around as we drank in the moment.

As we prepared to attend the after ceremony party a few in our group felt good about so many people seeing our work. I plagiarized an author I met in Albany two decades ago at a sci-fi convention when I said, “If you walk outside this hotel and ask random people if they know what a Plutus Award is nobody will know what you are talking about.”

That’s the truth of the matter. People inside the demographic might know what a Plutus Award is, but virtually nobody outside the demographic will have a clue. It brings it all back into perspective.

Later this week there is a ChooseFI meetup in Appleton. I was invited to attend. (I’ll be there.) The host mentioned they needed a celebrity to draw more people. I asked who the celebrity they were thinking of inviting. Then it hit me. They meant me! I was flattered as all get-out. But I don’t feel like a celebrity. And in the real world I’m not. But if you love my work and read it regularly you might have a perception I’m some bigger than life individual. I’m not.

Real celebrities are constantly on the go. Travel is hell even when you are on vacation. To be on the road the way Bourdain was had to have been painful (and lonely).

The worst part of popularity is the demands on time. People think they know you because they see your work. No harm is meant when they seek interaction. When the flow is manageable I love the recognition. When the water runs too fast I start drowning.

I never met an author who didn’t enjoy shaking hands and autographing her books. I never met a blogger who didn’t love talking shop and sharing ideas. Really, really famous people are different. Twenty people at a meetup or conference is a manageable group to communicate with. The press of thousands is destabilizing.

We can help our heroes. They are normal people who happened to strike a chord with a vast audience. They went viral so to speak. Books, songs, movies and blog posts all enjoy going viral. The more the better. But time is limited so a viral song or movie can push us to the extreme when it happens.

There are no excuses for what Kevin Spacey did. We can’t condone violence from our heroes. But we have to ask ourselves why so many of our heroes, people who have it all, fail so often. Personally, I think they crack under pressure. I for one would never withstand such an assault! In varying degrees none of our heroes do either. Fame always extracts a cost.

There is nothing wrong with admiring our heroes and role models. We must always be respectful of their time and wishes as it relates to their personal time. We can’t fix our heroes; they have to do that on their own. Support is always welcome, however, when it is unattached to a time demand.

Fame isn’t glorious. Even on a micro scale—the way a local businessperson sees the world—it is demanding. A modestly successful blogger gets several requests per day. People want a piece of you long before you do anything really big.

Many goals require acknowledgement to succeed. As a blogger I want traffic to justify my writing efforts. Traffic means more people will be interested in who this character is writing the blog. It’s natural to want to meet people who have shaped our lives.

Our heroes are normal people known by many. When you see a master at work it is clear they have given their life for their craft. Anthony Bourdain literally did.

Mrs. Accountant and my girls are sacred. I would give a lot for success in my business and this blog. If the price includes any harm to my girls I’d walk in a heartbeat.

But it happens so slowly, building over time, you probably never see it coming. Heroes need more than our admiration; they need our support. When we see one of our heroes, role models, begin to waver we need to take action. Most of us had no ability to help Bourdain. But there are people around you who may need your help: role models, heroes, parents, friends, our children. It is your responsibility to be the hero, the role model, when they do.

Wealth Building Resources

Personal Capital is an incredible tool to manage all your investments in one place. You can watch your net worth grow as you reach toward financial independence and beyond. Did I mention Personal Capital is free?

Medi-Share is a low cost way to manage health care costs. As health insurance premiums continue to sky rocket, there is an alternative preserving the wealth of families all over America. Here is my review of Medi-Share and additional resources to bring health care under control in your household.

QuickBooks is a daily part of life in my office. Managing a business requires accurate books without wasting time. Quickbooks is an excellent tool for managing your business, rental properties, side hustle and personal finances.

A cost segregation study can save $100,000 for income property owners. Here is my review of how cost segregation studies work and how to get one yourself.

Worthy Financial offers a flat 5% on their investment. You can read my review here.