Kyle’s Suicide

March 18th, 2009

suicide-river-faceIt was the summer of 1992 and I had just finished an eight year stint in the military. Civilian life wasn’t that much different especially since I has transitioned smoothly into the police academy only two weeks after my last formation had ended.   The academy was nestled amongst some low hills and against a river which ran through a fairly large city in Pennsylvania creating a nearly perfect setting.  July, August and September were perfect months for running along the river and through the woods along the gravel and dirt paths that wound their way through the thin veil of nature that the city was using to mask the ugliness that lay just beyond.  It was a fantastic time and we all were so excited to be learning skills and techniques that would enable us to do a job, protect the communities and give us a career we could be proud of.  It was so much fun.

In classes I sat next to a man named Kyle.  If I would have known then what I know now………….. the ending might just be different.

Kyle liked to talk about guns.  He really liked talking about guns.  Thats ALL he wanted to talk about.  He had more guns than some small bands of militia.  I would try to get him to talk about other things but he just couldn’t really talk about anything else that well.  He loved his guns.  Revolvers, single shots, semi auto pistols, rifles, shotguns, semi-auto, full auto, you name it, he wanted to discuss it.   All of us in the small class would meet at various places after the week of training was over to unwind and relax, discussing one instructor or another and talking about this class or that, the upcoming physical fitness test or what ever else had us uptight for the week.  It was a great time.  But Kyle always seemed like he just didn’t fit in.

I knew the feeling.  It was a feeling that whenever I opened my mouth, the wrong thing came out. I could never say anything right.  I didn’t find other peoples jokes funny (mainly because I didn’t understand them), I’d laugh too loud, too soft, too long or too short.  I’d speak and try to contribute to a conversation but found that everyone ended up just looking at me as if I was speaking another language.  I was on edge constantly and was uptight all the time.  I’d try to be funny and end up insulting people.  I was socially inept.  I couldn’t relax.  I remembered those days.  I hated them.  The military changed me alot in that area but now I saw the same behavior in Kyle.

I laughed at his ill-timed jokes, his socially unskilled attempts at conversation and I offered to have him ride with me when we went somewhere because I knew that he’d either end up driving alone or people would be annoyed that he was in their car.  When we would have to pick a partner to do scenarios, I’d pick Kyle.  He wasn’t a bad guy.  He just needed a friend with some patience.  A friend who would talk guns.  I liked him.  I saw me in him and if the truth be told, I felt bad for him.  I knew what he must be going through.

Graduation came and we all went our separate ways to various departments throughout the area.  He ended up in a city nearby and began his career full of rookie vigor and ignorance, stepping on toes and showing the same lack of genuine compassion and patience for the public that we all did.  We were The LAW!  It was fun but now, thinking back, boy do I pity some of the very nice people we came in contact with who had to suffer under our stupidity while we clumsily fumbled trying to find some sort of balance between power and discretion.  Most people just walked away shaking their heads muttering “Rookies….SHEESH!”

We all tried to stay in touch somewhat.  Stories circulated about this great arrest or that accomplishment; So-and-so got assigned to the Accident Investigation Unit, and what’s-her-name was training to be a detective.  Well, bad stories circulated as well, except faster.

About a year after graduation it turns out that Kyle was really beginning to struggle.  He hadn’t found a place to really fit in with the other guys in his department and the resulting teasing can be brutal.  Once you are outside the circle of trust, respect and fun, you are out for good.  Kyle had never made it in.  He was in a relationship with a woman who kicked him out and he ended up being homeless, living in a tent out in the woods. He would show up for work but was acting stranger and stranger.  I am sure that Kyle tried as hard as he knew how, to fit in.  Nothing worked.  The stresses of the job and life on the outside of every social circle finally began to really take it’s toll on him.  He was sent for mental health evaluations and counseling which only further marks you as one not to be trusted within the department.  The administration says otherwise, but they just don’t know.  You’re either an Alpha Dog, or you’re not.  Alpha Dogs don’t need counseling.  Kyle was sent for counseling.  So he wasn’t in.  He was out.

One day at work he was on patrol and responded to some situation downtown.  At some point during the call, Kyle had a break with reality and fell to the ground and began spinning around in a circle.  He lost much of his gear as he spun, kicking his legs wildly and pulling himself round and round.  He was helpless and it was most assuredly a terrible sight to see.  Thankfully a passing pedestrian who happened to be an elderly lady, seeing what was happening, picked up Kyle’s discarded radio and began calling for help.  “Hello?,  Hello?  My name is Grace Atkins and there is an officer on the ground and I think he needs help.  Something is terribly wrong here.”

Officers flew to the scene of the officer down call and found Kyle nearly out of his mind.  He was hospitalized and placed on administrative leave.  He was offered care but nothing seemed to help.  Kyle tried to reunite with his former girlfriend but by this point he was far too incapable of maintaining a relationship and so he found himself alone, essentially without a job and at the end of his rope.  He had only one set of friends left.

These friends had never let him down. They never laughed at him.  They were always there, always in the wings.  He could count on them.  He knew them inside and out and had lovingly cared for them.  So he gathered them from where they were hidden, lined them up for one last cleaning and gently laid them all in a row.  He took his favorite friend, loaded 9mm hollow points into it’s 30 round magazine, sat in a chair hugging it with only one thought going  through his mind.  “It’ll soon be over.”  He said one last goodbye, flipped the selector lever from safe to full auto, placed the barrel under his chin and pulled the trigger.

Kyle lost hope.  Nothing mattered any longer except making the pain stop.  Maybe there was some mental health issues there, maybe not.  I really don’t know.  But I do know that there but by the grace of God, go I.  I could have very easily been in that chair with those bullets ripping through my head.  I could have been there and I nearly was on more than one occasion.

There may be one of you out there right now who thinks that this may be a good solution to the problems of your life.  You feel like no one understands you.  Nobody cares.  Nobody wants you.  Nobody will miss you.  You are going to teach people a lesson.  LIES.  These are lies of the devil who only wants to destroy you.  You MATTER!  It’s a permenant solution to a temporary problem.  I hope for you.  I pray for you.  There is hope for you and this world is a worse place without you in it.  You don’t have to die.  You feel like you have to, like you need to escape and maybe you do, but you don’t have to die.  There is One who died for you.  He already died in your place so that you can live!  He came, lived and died that you might have life, and have it in great measure.  I don’t believe that Kyle ever met Jesus.  If that’s true, it’s an even worse tragedy.  Hang in there.  Try and hang on one more day.  Please.  If all you can do it hold on for one more minute, try.  Kyle will never get another chance.  It’s over.  Years have passed.  He’s gone.  If I’d have only known then what I know now, maybe………….just maybe things would be different.

If you like this post please buy me a cup of coffee

Tell Me Your Thoughts Here.

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.