THE STORY CONTINUES-An Intimate Look at Suicide by Shawn Moore
03/13/2018 - If you haven’t read my first blog, scroll down and read it first.
I don’t know if I felt relief or if I was still in shock of what was going on. I believe I was working on auto-pilot. One of the officer’s that responded took a gun from my “partner”. At first, I thought it was my husband’s weapon, only to realize later that it was my partners and he must have put it on before he responded to the scene. Scary thought when you sit down and think about it. Although, as an officer, you must protect yourself as well. You first want to come home to your family every night. From this point on things seem to have happened fast. An officer starts asking me questions, but my husband is asking for me. He is in the ambulance at this point. As I am walking to the ambulance, I ask the other ambulance crew member where they are going to take him. He tells me whichever hospital is open. I immediately tell him NO. “I know how this works. You are going to take him to the nearest VA, which is either Leavenworth or Kansas City.” I reminded him that I was an officer and that we were going to do what was best for the patient. Sometimes it is good being the officer other times it isn’t. When I got into the ambulance my husband asked me what was going on. I looked at “Marshall” and asked him if I should tell him. Hello? I am just the wife, remember? But no, I get that pleasure. Was it because I was an officer? I tell him that he had been drinking. My husband says, “I’ve been drinking? No, I haven’t.” I look at Marshall. “Sweetheart, we can smell it on you.” He starts to cry. He then looked at me and said that his neck hurt. I then had to explain to him that he had tried to hang himself. He was in shock, denial, tears…. you name it. I look up through the ambulance’s windshield and see the officers searching his truck. That’s what we do on a scene, but it was surreal seeing them go through our things. They will have to complete a report though, so it must be done. They come back and ask me for my information and my husband’s. We are getting ready to go now and they are going to let me ride in the ambulance with him. I think they realize that I am the only one that has been able to keep him calm at this point. My partner and other friend said that they would take both our cars home. Can you believe at this minute I was worried because mine didn’t have enough gas in it to get home and that he would have to pay for it? Then, what would my kids think when they got there with both cars, but we weren’t in them.
We made it to the ambulance and got him into the ER at the KCVA. By this time, my feet were freezing. My shoes and socks were soaked, and my pants were half way wet. My husband’s neck was red, and he was complaining of not being able to swallow. I went and got the doctor to let him know. He then asked me questions that I didn’t know. I realized then that the ambulance crew left and hadn’t given the doctor any information. Hello? This is not supposed to be the way it happens. I am just the wife. Not the officer on the scene. I had to text my partner who at this time I could tell didn’t want to tell me everything. I had to let him know that I was ok, (not really but someone had to get the information), and that the doctor was asking. This is when I found out that my husband had been unconscious and not breathing prior to being cut down. When he hit the water, he took a big gulp but didn’t continue to breath until after my partner cut the rope from around his neck and started to give him CPR. I relayed that to the doctor which is when they decided they had better do an MRI on his neck to make sure there wasn’t any damage done. When they took him back for that test, the reality of the situation hit me. We had made it just in time to save him. I needed to call my daughter to tell her what was going on as well. I tried to give her the watered-down version, but she wouldn’t have it. She told me that she was coming down even though I told her not to. I had to make plans for my little one to go to one of my other daughter’s house since my then 20-year-old took after me with her stubbornness. While I was waiting, the nurse, who was a big ol guy, brought me a warm blanket. No one had asked me if I was ok or needed anything at this point. No family support at all. The warm blanket meant a lot to me. My husband got back from the test. They didn’t see any damage but since he was having a hard time swallowing they wanted to keep him over night in the ICU. Then he would be transferred to the psych ward the next day. After getting him settled my daughter and I went to pick up my little one and we went home. I got her all settled in and then went to look through my husband’s truck. As a police officer, I was trying to put the pieces together. I wanted to know what led to him being fine that morning to trying to end it all. I also looked through his phone and found on the word pad that he left me a note that said, “I left you a note.” I went digging through the truck thinking that the officers probably would have found it and took it for evidence. But they didn’t look hard enough. I found it in his journal. He had either used his fingernail or something like that to write it. I had to put it under a light to see what he had written. “The monster is here. This is not your fault. I love you so much my Shawn.” With the aid of sleeping pills, I went to bed, emotionally exhausted.
I went to the hospital the next day and got there just before they took him to the psych ward. I was told that I could go up with him so that I could talk to the doctor. I asked my husband what the last thing that he remembered was on that day. My husband had been at what he likes to call his safe place that day. He was with a bunch of other buddies mentoring to veterans and first responders with PTS when two Army soldiers from Ft. Riley’s WTU came in dressed in uniform. That triggered my husband because his time in the WTU was a horrible experience. He told me that he was very angry and tried to talk to them to calm down but all he remembers is sitting by himself. He doesn’t remember leaving, driving five minutes to the gas station and buying alcohol, or the act itself. There was a gap of approximately five hours. Five hours missing. All along I had been calling and texting him. Five hour sitting contemplating on how to end the pain. Five hours of worry and anxiety building in me until the gut feeling said that our lives wouldn’t be the same at the end of the day.
I talked to my “partner” later the next day. I wanted to make sure that him and our other friend was ok. They too had seen the horror of war and suffered in their own ways. He texts me that evening saying, “I knew you were a strong woman.” Really? Because I didn’t feel like it. I was going through the motions and didn’t know what those were supposed to be. In my next blog, I will write about how I found the new normal in our lives. I was a mess for several months afterwards. But, I want to share the God “things” that I came to see on that day and what resiliency and strength look like.
My Last Call-An Intimate Look at Suicide by Shawn Moore
02/25/2018 - It was a day that started like many of your own. It was a mild day in August of last year in Kansas City, MO. August 9th to be exact. School hadn’t started yet for my soon to be first grader. It was such a normal day I can’t even recall my 21-year-old daughter, Courtney, coming in so that my husband and I could go about our day. I do remember my husband making coffee for me that day and talking with him before I left for work. He was headed out to mentor a group of veterans and first responders that were battling with PTSD. An illness my husband was all too familiar with. I had an easy day ahead of me. I was going to leave work early to meet Courtney at my first grader’s school so that she could meet her teacher before the first day. We were leaving the next day to go to a family retreat for those that have a loved one with PTSD in Colorado, so she would be missing her first day of school. When your child has high anxiety in new situations, you do all that you can to alleviate that. I had many thoughts on my way to work that day. My husband, Bryan, and I were in the process of starting a non-profit organization called Caregivers on the Homefront. We had given our son a few ideas of what we would like our logo to look like, so I decided to call my husband on the way in to work. We chatted casually about the design and different things about what we needed to do to get things going with the organization. We talked through me parking my car and starting the two-block walk to Headquarters. As I approached the building I saw a twenty something female who looked like she was lost. I quickly said good bye to Bryan and told him that I loved him. You see, I am a police officer, and someone needed help. She also reminded me of one of my girls and I would want someone to do the same for them. She was looking for the courthouse. I was headed in the same direction, so I walked with her the rest of the way. Nothing major came out of that…. just small talk. I got into work and texted my husband telling him that I got there and that I would talk to him later. As usual, he responded with “I love you my Shawn!” We both went about our day. My thoughts were still on the non-profit and ideas that I had. I continued texting Bryan throughout the morning, knowing that I wouldn’t get a response until lunch time. The few things that he was helping with that morning would be pivotal moments in the veterans and first responder’s lives, so I knew that he wouldn’t interrupt by getting his phone out. The morning seemed to have gone by quickly. I was walking back to my car to go and meet my girls at the school when I called my husband. No answer. I thought that was strange since it was lunch time and I hadn’t heard from him. I got in my car and about half way to the school I got a horrible gut feeling that something wasn’t right. You know, the sick to your stomach feeling that you can’t shake? I texted my husband again. Nothing. I tried to call again. Nothing. By the time I got to the school my anxiety was sky high. I decided to text a friend of ours that was out at the same location that my husband was. He was also our therapist. “Have you seen Bryan? He isn’t answering my texts or phone calls and that isn’t like him. Is he still there?” I got a text back that said, “Stand by.” I went ahead and went in to the school with Courtney and Peyton to meet the teacher. We had a nice visit although my anxiety and fear were mounting. After forty-five minutes of talking with the teacher and getting Peyton comfortable we left. I looked at my phone and still no one had called or texted me back. I walked outside and told Courtney to take Peyton home because I had a horrible feeling that something was terribly wrong and that I needed to find Bryan. She didn’t question me and took Peyton with her. I immediately attempted to locate Bryan’s phone through our wireless carrier. When I saw where he was at, a dead-end road where nothing was, I knew my worst nightmare was slowly coming true. At that moment, I stopped being a wife. I am a trained police officer. Someone needed help. I had to get there and fast. I don’t remember the drive. Only that I called one of my friends, who was also a caregiver to her husband who is a veteran. She didn’t answer. I then texted my girlfriend that I have known since we were in second grade. She lives in Tulsa. I told her that my worst fear was coming true and that I knew in my heart that something was terribly wrong with Bryan. She begged me several times to not go by myself. Although, I knew the situation was dire, I thought that I could handle it. I was a police officer for Christ sake! But Christ must have hit me over the head as I was getting closer to where I thought Bryan was because I called a friend of Bryan and I’s. He had also attended the police academy with me. I tried my best to hold it together when I told him that I needed help and that I didn’t believe that things were going to end well. He said he would meet me there. I was on auto pilot at that time. I don’t remember thinking anything except that I just needed to get there. When I pulled up the dead-end gravel road, I saw my husband’s truck with the driver’s side door open. It was facing me. I got out of my car and had thoughts of a prior scene that I had been on a few years earlier where someone had shot themselves in their car. When I got to that scene, he was leaning over in the passenger’s seat. I prayed that I wouldn’t see the same thing today. At that moment, I saw another one of our friends talking on the phone and the look on his face was something I can’t explain to this day. But what I felt while I put the pieces together was that my husband was gone. I dropped to my knees and screamed NOOOOO at the top of my lungs. My friend was screaming at me trying to get my attention. I finally understood what he was saying while he spoke to the 911 operator. I asked where Bryan was at. He pointed down an embankment, through the overgrown grass and trees with thorns on them to a creek bed. I frantically ran that way and then I saw him. My husband, sitting on the creek bed with his shirt off, boots on, muddy and in the water. My other friend and fellow co-worker standing in the water under the bridge. My husband crying. I took him in my arms as I stepped in the creek. It was cold on my feet. My husband was sweaty. He looked up at me and asked me where he was and how he had gotten there. I tried to tell him where he was, but he didn’t understand. I saw a blue tie down strap in the water. I looked up and saw that the other end was tied to the bridge railing. WHAT? It couldn’t be. I mouthed to my partner (because, you see, I felt as if I was on a scene at work), “Did he hang himself?” He shook his head yes. How could that be? He had never talked about that. Only shooting himself or overdosing on pills. How does one make the decision to do that? I looked at my husband again. I could smell the alcohol. Yet, he is a recovering alcoholic. What had happened that day? Snap back into it Shawn! I hear my partner saying that we should get him up the embankment. I hear the ambulance and fire truck sirens. Thoughts in my mind of being a wife and police officer were colliding and running rough shod over me. Who am I supposed to be at this moment! I find myself on one side of Bryan and my partner on the other. Help him up. Guide him up the hill and through the trees and thorns. Watch out, don’t let that one hit you. Bryan looks at me at the top of the hill and asks me what is going on. He still doesn’t understand what has happened or what is going on. The police officers, ambulance crew, and fire fighters are running towards us. It freaks my husband out. I yell to them, “He has PTSD! You are scaring him. It’s ok. He isn’t going to hurt you.” They back down and let me dictate the scene. My husband, crying again. His neck is red. My stomach is in my throat. I say to him, “Let’s go to the ambulance.” He looks at me with a pained and confused look and says, “Why?” Then, the EMT in front of us says “Marshall.” I think to myself, is this some code word in the military that I missed? We don’t have time for that! The EMT then says, “Bryan, it’s Marshall.” He knows him?! They hug each other, and he walks my husband to the ambulance.
My story doesn’t end there. Nor did my husbands. The emotions of reliving that day are almost overwhelming even 7 months later. This is my first attempt at writing down what happened on that day and my first attempt at writing a blog. I thought I would start there and continue with the story in the next episode. There is much more that I didn’t know at that time that I want to share in hopes that it will bring understanding to others as well as pave the way for others to tell their stories.
If you read through the entire post, thank you! The reason that I started the non-profit, Caregivers on the Homefront, is to support the caregivers behind the veterans and first responders. We can't get through this journey alone. If you want to help me help others through times like these please click on the DONATE button at the top of this page.
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