John Wemlinger comments on the thought behind BEFORE THE SNOW FLIES
It is my honest hope that you have not personally ever had to deal with a suicide. However, I suspect that the likelihood of that is remote. Almost all of us have known someone who has taken their own life or in some way been involved with the family of someone who has. For the most prosperous country in the world we have an alarmingly high rate of suicide. In 2016, 45,000 Americans took their own life. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America and, sadly, it is one of only three causes of death within the top ten that are on the rise rather than on the decline. The news is even worse for members of our military. Our all-volunteer service members’ and veterans’ suicide rate is two to three times higher than their civilian counterparts. I challenge you to find any statistic about suicide rates in the US that is even the least bit optimistic.
I’ve known two people who chose to take their own life. Both were professional acquaintances, people I saw with some frequency, people I had talked to. I’ve never forgotten either of them. I talk about one of them in the book’s Postlude. There are always the haunting thoughts, "Did I miss something they said or did" or "What should I have done to prevent...". These thoughts prompt me to recall a quote from Hannah Baker, the tragic character in Jay Asher’s best-selling novel, Thirteen Reasons Why; “A lot of you cared, just not enough.”
So, Before the Snow Flies is my fledgling attempt to care more. In it, my message to you is simple: observe and act. “But,” you say, “I’m not a mental health expert.” My answer: “Neither am I.” But that doesn’t get us off the hook. That person contemplating suicide doesn’t care about our credentials. We, that’s you and me, have been chosen by who? Them? Someone else? Or maybe we were chosen by God. All that really matters is that we may be that precious Samaritan who is the barrier in someone else’s struggle between life and death. First, just LISTEN. Then help them find professional help. Don’t know where that help might come from?
The National Suicide Prevention Hotline Number is 1-800-273-8255.
If they won’t call, then we must make the call for them.
We must lead them to help.
JOHN WEMLINGER’S LATEST NOVEL
Major David Keller was well on his way to becoming a general when a roadside bomb in Afghanistan took his legs. Angry, grieving, and carrying a loaded gun, David returns home to mend a few fences before using that gun to end his life. But before the snow flies, his family, his community and Maggie McCall, someone he tried to forget, will prove to him that life in the small town of Onekama, Michigan, can be great once again—if he will only let it…and if murder doesn’t get in the way.