"Live a good life, and in the end, it’s not the years in the life, it’s the life in the years."

Mother updates book on son’s suicide, urges better prevention

By on November 29, 2017 in Articles with 0 Comments

Julie Zielinski

By Julie Zielinski

Unexpected tragedy can strike at any time as our family experienced in 2005 when our oldest son Matthew took his own life.

Seven years after his death I wrote a book, Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors, sharing our family’s journey of joys and sorrows. It was a story of hope and of new beginnings and the birth of a passion to reach out to others before it is too late and to comfort those who are survivors of a suicide.

Now, 12 years later I am re-publishing the book to call on the need for increased emphasis on suicide prevention and what I’ve learned in the last five years.

My son Matthew was an athlete, a Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps and a Chelan County Sheriff’s Deputy. But even the training and discipline from those vocations could not save him from death by his own hand at age 27, a result of a failed relationship.

My goal in sharing my story is to save someone else from experiencing the same pain and grief, in particular law enforcement and all first responders.

I have discovered that there is help, and people do care. Matt’s last Call: Surviving Our Protectors, second edition, talks about my son’s life and family, and the aftermath of his tragic death. Woven throughout are the seeds of a deep Christian faith that sustain our family, including reflections from Matt’s father.

Five chapters provide words of comfort, hope and help for the grieving, and a resource guide that provides a list of contacts when a person feels overwhelmed by life experiences. The chapter, The Stigma of Suicide, presents warning signs and other indicators that someone may be contemplating suicide.

The new book cover created by Lizzy McKnight for the second edition of Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors

One emphasis in the book is the need for training in suicide prevention.

For all first responders (military, law enforcement, firefighters, medical, etc…) training should be required and continual as part of mental wellness. Currently, it is sporadic at best or missing altogether.

The stigma of suicide and the “hush-hush” nature that surrounds it is the main culprit. Breaking through the stigma is essential to get the issue out on the table.

Statistics demand it. For example, in America today there are more than two deaths from suicide for every line-of-duty death in law enforcement.

On a personal level, most of us know a family member, a friend, a co-worker who has either taken their own life or who has entertained the thought.

Loneliness, hopelessness from a financial setback, a lost job, a bad health report from the doctor, a failed relationship(s) or the feeling that no one notices or cares are often some of the main reasons given.

Take action. Looking the other way could lead to their demise and a boatload of guilt. Remember the story of the Good Samaritan in the Bible.

Remind those contemplating suicide that there are many who love them and who care. Completing the act would only leave behind a wake of destruction for those remaining including parents, siblings, friends, co-workers, former teachers, etc…

Gently guide them back, stay with them and enlist the help of medical experts or clergy. You could very well be saving a life.

If you are the survivor of someone close to you who has committed suicide, choose not to define the person by that last, final choice.

They had a life. Remember them by talking about them to others, highlight their accomplishments and do something special to honor them on their birthday and during the holidays. Keep a favorite picture of the person in your home. Speak of the good times you had together.

Keep their memory alive.

Join Julie Zielinski Saturday,

Dec. 2, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. for the book launch of the Second Edition Matt’s Last Call: Surviving Our Protectors at Encouraging Words, 529 South Wenatchee Ave.

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