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I’ll never forget that early morning. I’ll never forget the deep soul-crying and utter feeling of devastation I witnessed. I was a young cop and learned a deep lesson that morning that I couldn’t have learned any better if I had attended Harvard, Yale or Stanford.
The sun had just risen on that cold winter morning when a mother got a call from her 30 year-old son. He lived on the next street over and he called to say that he wasn’t feeling too good about things. He told his mom that he was tossing around the idea of killing himself. The mom, an attractive 50 year-old, always took efforts to look good and dress well. She told her son that she’d be right over and to relax a bit and that they’d talk things out.
It took her about 20 minutes to get to the house that was no more than a minute drive away. She walked into the unlocked home and called out to her son. Her son’s wife was a hospital nurse and had not returned home from her night shift yet. No answer. She called out again and again with no response. She walked the house looking for her precious son. Calling out some more, she opened the bathroom door and saw what no mother should ever see.
She saw her son’s bloody body lying partially in the bathtub and partially on the floor with a quarter of his head blown off. He had stood in the bathtub, placed a 30-30 hunting rifle under his chin and pulled the trigger. She immediately screamed in terror and dialed 911. She told dispatch what she had found and that she thought her son was dead. Dispatch told us that she was crying at the top of her lungs and they conveyed more detailed information as we responded to the scene. We arrived at the house in about 3 minutes.
My partner, a sergeant, was one step in front of me as we ran into the home. Mom was right at the front door crying her lungs out and just about out of control. She screamed that he must have shot himself and that he was in the upstairs bathroom. Sergeant Zugan told me to stay with the mom while he quickly bolted up the stairs. Seconds later, he stuck his head out of the room and indicated to me that the son was indeed, dead. This meant there was no need for paramedics to rush to the scene. We notified responding units to slow it down.
This is where my life lesson occurred. I tried to calm her down. I was pretty good at calming people down but everything I tried didn’t work. Nothing I said worked to calm her, even a tiny bit. She was crying at the top of her lungs and was completely hopeless in her demeanor. I was shocked. I tried everything but soon realized that I couldn’t tell her that things would be okay. That it will get better. That he will be alright. There was nothing in the world I could have said to calm her. I sensed it. I realized it. Nothing!
The utter despair in her voice was amazing. Nothing like I have ever seen before, or since. Her deep down to the bone mental pain was shocking. And this is when my lesson occurred. I looked at her and I saw that this mother that I was talking to, had died. Not physically, but mentally dead. I’m not exaggerating. And mind you, I have seen a lot. The worst of the worst. I’ve seen numerous hurting and violent patients in a mental home. I’ve seen rape victims and victims of just about everything. Tons of psychic pain but never, ever like this mom. Along with her son, she died that morning.
My lesson learned that morning was that suicide does not just kill the person who cancels his or her own ticket. No, not all. I learned and I learned it deep down to my core that when you kill yourself you kill others, too. Sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, spouses, moms and dads. They die too. I’ll never forgot that lesson.
My sergeant told me that I didn’t have to go into that room that morning. I was surprised that he said it because he was a pretty gruff hold in your emotions police work kinda guy, but he said, “You don’t have to go in there, you don’t have to see it.” But I did. I was young and I wanted to face everything that my career would entail. I had to be able to handle it all. Now, or sometime. I went in.
Minutes earlier, I had seen a picture of the man on his bedroom wall. Movie-star good looks. A handsome smiling man. When I walked into the bathroom I saw a person who looked nothing like his picture. Most of his blood had drained from his body through the huge part of his head that was missing. That completely changed the color of his face and body. A chunk of his head had been blown behind the toilet and he had fallen out of the tub onto the floor into a pool of blood. The smell of gunpowder was still in the air. A good looking man that no one would recognize now. And a mom downstairs that no one would recognize either.
One of the few quotes about life that philosophers say is true, talks about change. It says: This too shall pass. Everything changes, good and bad. When you kill yourself you do not allow that change to come around. When you kill yourself you kill your loved ones; you do. Don’t do it. Get help.
Steve's a three-time survivor of violence in his youth and was an award winning police officer being the recipient of the 'J. Edgar Hoover Foundation' award for Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity. Steve was SWAT trained by the FBI, FBI Hostage Rescue Team, and the LAPD.
For several years, Steve also did radio political and current event commentary and taught college Criminal Justice. He is the former host of the long running 'The Kovacs Perspective' Internet radio talk show.
Presently, Steve is the owner and Managing Director of one of the oldest martial art schools in Ohio, 'The Mayfield Academy of Self-Defense'.
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