It was 6:00 am on March 20th 2013 and I was sound asleep. Then there was a knock on my dorm
room door. Nothing besides the largest tragedy could be important enough to wake a sleeping
college student at 6:00 am, and unfortunately it was just that. On the other side of the door was
my Aunt coming to tell me my Father had committed suicide.
The question many people ask when a loved one commits suicide is why? Although I also struggled with this question at times, my father’s death did not come as a surprise to me. This event was the first time I unknowingly applied the understanding of how unique beginning conditions determine the outcome of an event as well as the logic that everything can only happen one way. Ignoring the undeniably tragic circumstances that led me to come to an understanding of concepts presented in Information Measurements Theory, I want to share with you my observations of my father’s initial conditions as well as my unfortunately correct prediction of the outcome of the event.
To begin my father’s childhood was not ideal. He was a lanky, redheaded nerd, who played the trombone, was wicked smart, and more than a bit socially awkward. On top of that his father passed away when he was 14 and he felt forced to take on the family bee business which landed the promising engineer he planned to be into lower-middle class blue collar work. Considering some of these factors, when Arizona went into a bad drought in the 1990s and the business fell on hard financial times it was no surprise my father began to develop severe depression and symptoms of schizophrenia. He was officially diagnosed as a manic depressive bipolar schizophrenic when he first attempted suicide in 1998.
After his first attempt he was medicated and life in general was better. From the time period of 2009-2012 that once again changed. He went on and off his meds for four years, quitting them completely in 2011 then tumbling into what can only be described as a never ending downward spiral. It was around this time I recognized what kind of conditions my father was living in and what implications those conditions I felt might have on the future. After one particularly bad day I remember sitting with my best friend telling her about what was happening and saying “if he keeps this up he will be lucky if he lasts another 8 months”. I said that just one year before he committed suicide.
Fast forward back to the week of March 20th 2013, it was March 16th, the Saturday before the fateful day, and woke up to 7 missed calls from my mother. Anyone who has one missed call from their mom panics, so you can only imagine my concern. Sadly, my very first assumption was that something had happened to my dad, but this time it was just a phone call to tell me my childhood dog, who was living with my dad at the time, had to be put down. Then the next time I talked to my mom she was telling me it was my dad who had passed away.
This is an extreme example of understanding the conditions and the resulting event, and it is definitely a very depressing example. I am not saying I don’t wish things were different because I do. I wish my dad would be able to see me graduate, walk me down the aisle when the time comes, and be there for general dad-like advice. The thing is I knew early on based on the conditions I observed that many of these things were probably not going to be possible, and most days I felt guilty for believing that was the only outcome. However, understanding the event can only happen one way and that in the end I had no control over my dad’s actions helps me be more at peace with the situation. Moving forward I would like to continue looking at how the environment and the initial conditions impact the mental health of individuals because I’m sure my dad’s situation is not entirely unique.
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