A man who was instrumental in my getting sober 19 years ago and was my former roommate killed himself last week. When I first learned about it, I didn’t believe it. I thought the person who told me was mistaken. I looked up his obituary in my local paper and still couldn’t believe it. It wasn’t until I went to the memorial service that it hit me.
I used to camp and fish with Jerry. He loved the outdoors. Making money wasn’t a priority. He belonged to my bipolar support group too. I don’t think he took medication. He worked under the table cleaning houses and didn’t have insurance. Maybe he was eligible for Medicaid, but without proof of income he probably wouldn’t have qualified. I know he couldn’t get help from my county’s mental health provider because they won’t help people without insurance anymore. He fell through the cracks and that’s what saddens me most.
He went to the same AA group for over twenty years. I thought his memorial would have a lot of people, but it didn’t. Did he withdraw from his AA group? Is that why so few people were there? It upset me to see how few people came to the service. What happened? He withdrew from my bipolar support group so he may have quit going to his AA group too. Depression makes your world smaller.
I shared about how much Jerry helped me so his son could hear about what a great guy he was. I can’t imagine how his son must be feeling right now. Will he inherit Jerry’s illness? Will he fall through the cracks too?
A woman from Jerry’s AA group came up to me after the service and thanked me for what I shared. I should’ve asked her the questions I’ve asked above. I’ve thought of going to his AA meeting and asking someone who knew him. I doubt they can tell me anything. People don’t like to talk about suicide and I might get an answer I don’t want to hear. A lot of people don’t understand depression and some people may think it’s an issue outside the purview of Alcoholics Anonymous. It’s not. I’ve seen plenty of suicides in all my time going to AA meetings. It’s not self-pity. It’s an illness and he didn’t get the help he needed.