James Pigon was a lot of things. He was a son, a husband, a father, a friend, a police officer, a talented martial artist, and so many other great things. But he was also a victim of depression, alcoholism, and eventually, suicide.

Today, July 1st of 2021, is the 22nd anniversary of my dad's death. The day is vividly burned into my mind forever, even though I was only eight-years-old at the time. But, instead of dwelling on all of the sad memories that come with July 1st, I like to use the opportunity to spread awareness on the impacts of suicide and the importance of taking care of your mental health.

As I've mentioned many times before, I have struggled with some pretty severe anxiety for most of my life. I like to think I have it under control most days, but it never fully goes away. I used to think my dad was selfish. I spent so many years so angry at him for leaving me and a brother and my mom. But, as I've gotten older, I've developed more of a understanding of the diseases of addiction and depression. As hard as it is to admit, I know what it feels like to want to die. I know what it feels like to feel hopeless and lost and alone. I know what it feels like to slowly isolate yourself from the people that love you. I know what it feels like to think that things will never get better and that the world is better off without you. But they will, and it's not.

If I've learned anything from the death of my dad, it's that suicide impacts the people you love in ways that you'd never imagine. I've discovered this in the past few years after beginning to go to therapy. To be totally honest with you, I thought that therapy would offer me no new information and that I knew everything about myself that I needed to know, but I could not have been more wrong. It has been such a huge blessing (thanks to finding the right therapist), and I like to think that it could've really helped my dad if he had made a commitment to it. Maybe it could've helped him realize that he had people so many people who loved him and needed him and that there was so much for him to live for. Maybe it would've convinced him to stop drinking. Maybe it would've led him to understand himself and his mental illnesses better and get a better hold on them. Unfortunately, he never got the chance to find out.

My plea to everyone reading this is, please, don't kill yourself. There are solutions to your problems that you just can't see yet. Even if you're stuck in the dark and it doesn't seem like there's a way out, there is. There are options and there are people who care enough to help you find them. I'm close with quite a few people that have considered or attempted suicide, and they are all glad that they didn't go through with it, and so am I.

If my dad's story can help just one single person, then I will continue to share it and honor his memory. Please, take care of yourself. Your mental health is important. Don't be afraid to reach out and ask for help. You have a purpose and you belong here, even if you don't believe it right now.

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