I have never written an article like this one. It is simply one SOFREP author imploring you, the reader, to ingest a series of articles written by another SOFREP author, George E. Hand. George is a former Delta Force operator (master sergeant) and a current vigilante against the scourge of human trafficking in the American Southwest.
George also tells bad-ass stories. Whether they be about training with SEALs in submarine lockout operations, undertaking hellacious land navigation treks while trying to survive Delta Force selection, about losing his warrior comrades, or about that time his Special Forces team accidentally burned down a Korean forest, George can spin one hell of a yarn, regaling us all with real-life adventure stories, both touching and highly entertaining.
George is also a hell of a photographer, which is neither here nor there, but is worth mentioning as just one more facet of this impressive man’s being.
What I am here to do, in this article, besides plugging George’s writing in general, is to implore you to experience George’s series on veteran depression and suicide. (You can read part one here.)
If you care at all to learn what depression truly feels like, and to understand how one can sink to the depths of despair to such a degree that he or she feels ending it all is the only way out, then you should read George’s series. In simultaneously humorous, horrifying, and honest terms, he describes for the reader how one man can find himself at the end of that dark path, ready to take the leap off the cliff of mortality.
And George leapt.
This is not just a story of depression. It is an unsparing story of attempted suicide. George will tell you what that meant for and to him, as he made that decision and now lives with the repercussions. It is harrowing and powerful, and all at once revelatory and private. You will feel like a voyeur as you read, comforted only by the fact that he wants you to read it, and he needs to tell it.
See, George’s story is not really about “veteran” depression and suicide at all. He is, of course, a veteran, but what he went through, experienced, and continues to go through afflicts veterans, civilians, the young, the old, the middle aged, men and women. Depression and suicide strike every socio-economic and racial group.
I only know this because I have seen it. I have experienced the horror of seeing a 16-year-old girl hanging in a shed in her parents’ backyard as they searched frantically to find her. I have seen a middle-aged man who hung himself from the bottom of a motel staircase with two feet of clearance to the ground. He had to work for that death.
I have cut another woman down from a tree in her backyard, where she hung by a length of electrical cord, and performed CPR on her while her husband watched and wailed. I have pulled another woman out of a bathtub, overdosed and drowned, and again performed CPR while her young child slept soundly down the hall. I have a close friend who was committed to a mental care facility because his depression led him down the same dark path toward that ledge.
My point is, we all know someone, or we are close to someone, or we are that someone, who has gone through pain similar to George’s. If you really want to understand that pain, and hear from one who will describe it for you in brutal yet palliative prose, then read George’s series.
You will come away from it sad, hopeful, enlightened—astounded even—and most importantly, more empathetic toward those around us whose hearts beat in the darkness, and who fight daily to keep the demons at bay. Maybe, even, you can help them battle those demons.