Jay Sigel

Jay Sigal
Staff Writer

The presence of death is part of our daily lives. Occasionally, its arrival is by way of the peaceful passing in sleep of a beloved grandfather, or favorite uncle. Frequently it appears as a slow painful experience as with cancer or Alzheimer’s. All too often, it is visited through the violence of a high-speed freeway pile-up, or a senseless convenience store robbery.

For some, however, that is not the case. It is to one of them, and in whose honor, this is written: 

Donald Eric Lucas — B: 23 APR 1972 – D: 01 OCT 2018 – USMC 1993-1995.

Lucas served his country as a Marine from 1993 – 1995. He was a student at LCCC. He died alone by his own hand, following visits by two close friends. He is survived by his immediate family lived in Alabama, and included his mother, his twin brother and a child. He also left a wide circle of friends, fellow students and co-workers, both on and off campus, stunned by his unfortunate action.

Lance Corporal Donald E. Lucas was a volunteer at the LCCC Veteran and Military Service Member Center / Veterans Services. He was enrolled in the Vocational Rehabilitation Program and within two semesters of attaining his first college degree. He was a member of the North Olmsted VFW, and the Leatherneck Nation Motorcycle Club. He is remembered well, and greatly missed.

Unfortunately, Lance Corporal Lucas was not alone. The Veterans Administration released a report of suicide statistics in 2017:

νCumulatively, veterans’ suicides account for 18% of the suicide deaths in the country, yet they are only 8.5% of the adult population.

νAlmost 70 percent of veteran suicides involved a gun, compared to about 48 percent on non-veteran suicides. 

νIn 2014, approximately 65 percent of all Veterans who died by suicide were age 50 or older.

ν Adjusting for differences in age and sex, risk for suicide was 22 percent higher among Veterans compared to U.S. non-Veteran adults. 

After adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 19 percent higher among male Veterans when compared to U.S. non-Veteran adult men. Adjusting for differences in age, risk for suicide was 2.5 times higher among female Veterans when compared to U.S. non-Veteran adult women.

The news of a death hits hard, whether a loved one or friend it. Even when the news is expected, as in the case of an illness. Such news stirs memories of the relationship and perhaps special events which were shared, followed by sadness and loss. 

When the news is reported as suicide, it often also carries additional trauma and misplaced guilt. Misplaced because it suggests that had one known about it, some action might have been taken to alter the outcome. Generally, that is not the case. Suicide is often the response to a crisis, sometimes imagined, but still very real. Such crises are often experienced by veterans with PTSD, although in Lance Corporal Lucas’ case, that was unknown. Every incident is different and specific to that person. The crisis may have been triggered by an unexpected event that would otherwise have been considered immaterial under normal circumstances – then, in response to that event a decision is made, often in as little as an hour. It is however a myth, that people who complete a suicidal act suffer from mental illness. While occasionally accurate, it is more often not. The unfortunate truth is that “No one really knows—experts never get to talk to people who have committed suicide. They can only talk to those who are contemplating suicide or who survive it. By definition, that is a different group,” [sic] (Skerrett).

Another myth:

“I would know if my loved one was considering suicide; they’d tell me.”

 “Unfortunately, it is commonly the case that once someone has come to the decision that suicide is an option they a) become almost euphorically happy and appear to be at-ease (because they finally have a solution), which can throw family members or friends off, or b) they go out of their way to prevent anyone from discovering their plans so that they cannot be stopped,” according to oursideofsuicide.com No one knows what happened with Lance Corporal Lucas. As mentioned, he was visited by at least two friends, both considered close enough to be a confidant in the hours preceding his passing.

But they were not. And that is tragic.If you are considering suicide, or if you have talked about suicide, please know there is help available in the form of caring, understanding people with access to resources and a sincere desire to provide you with the assistance necessary to get you through your crisis moment. Someone that will deliver immediate, free help 24/7. You have everything to live for, even if that’s contrary to what you may be feeling in the moment.

Suicide data 

ν The suicide rate for veterans ages 18 to 34 increased significantly between 2015 and 2016, from 40.4 deaths per 100,000 to 45 per 100,000.

ν Almost 70 percent of veteran suicides involved a gun, compared to about 48 percent on non-veteran suicides.

ν The suicide rate among middle-age and older adult Veterans remains high. In 2014, approximately 65 percent of all Veterans who died by suicide were age 50 or older.

Helpful resources 

ν Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 (TALK) Option 1

ν Vet 2 Vet: A Veterans Crisis Hotline: 877-VET-2-VET/877 / 

877-838     2838

ONLINE HELP:

ν Crisis Chat: https://www.contact-usa.org/chat.html

ν I’m Alive: http://www.imalive.org