Truth and Perspective: We Can Save A Life…

A few minutes ago, I popped open my twitter feed and read a numbing tweet from Jack Harvey.

Jack Harvey's Tweet: So sad to hear about Trey Pennington's death today. It reminds us all that people have struggles and we should be caring & loving people.

A “Pennington” search confirmed my worst fears; Trey succumbed to the darkest of human conditions–hopelessness. Trey was a man of faith. He was a family man, and if you ever had a conversation with him, you likely had a sense that he was grounded. He was. Depression is not a respecter of education, class, faith, family, fame, or “happiness.” It strikes like a viper and speaks worthlessness and desperation directly to the core of those who taste its venom.

When I read Bridget Pilloud’s tribute to Trey and personal struggle with depression, I was struck by the simple gesture of her professor that assisted her off the ledge:

She asked me if I was thinking about suicide.

Yes, I said.

I was so depressed that I didn’t realize that she was going to try to talk me out of it. I thought she was going to say Go For It, or maybe Where are your poems? I want to publish a chapbook posthumously.

I was wrong.

You’re a mother right? She asked.

Yeah, I said, but you know, he’ll have his dad, and if I do it now, he won’t remember me.

She nodded. She was quiet for a moment and then she said, My mother killed herself when I was 9. She jumped off the balcony of our house. And every day since the day she died, I’ve wondered what I could have done differently.

I remember looking down at my doc marten mary janes.

Then she said, If you decide to kill yourself, understand that you are dooming your two-year-old to always wonder what was so wrong with him that you chose to kill yourself instead of being his mother.

I thought of my boy. I thought of my mother and how many times I thought I had failed her, and wondered what was so wrong with me.

And I never considered suicide again.  It stopped being an option.

We all hear a little voice from time to time; it’s usually no big deal. It might be that we feel like we failed a project, or because of a string of mess-ups, the voice says you are a “failure.” We may see that we’ve gained a few pounds in the mirror, but that voice tells says, “no one will ever love you.” These strikes are lies, that’s all they are. Eventually after listening to them time and again, the voice builds one on another and says “you have no reason to live.” Bridget heard the lies, and fortunately she was able to share her story with someone outside that gave her a different perspective and spoke truth into her life.

We have relationships all around us where the voice is striking. From the outside, it’s not always easy to see evidence of it. But our ability to listen and not always fix is the perspective that someone may need to walk off the ledge.

Recently, one of my closest friends moved out of town. For the last five years, our families ate dinner together once a week. He and I regularly had “back porch time” where we would talk about nothing in particular and everything in between. Something about that time kept my pressure release valve open. Without posturing, we would just sit outside and chat…or sometimes just sit outside and listen.

Since his move, the viper would strike a lie here and a lie there in my own mind, and after about a month the internal dialogue began to build one lie on another. Everyone has reasons why we don’t want to let anyone into our labyrinth of lies: I’m a man, I’m a father, I’m a mother, I’m a leader, I’m famous, etc., but I found myself subverting the viper’s strike until the other day. I had a telephone call with my friend and mentioned one of the lies. Almost immediately, he spoke truth into my situation and it changed my perspective.

We all need a little more truth in our lives:

  • You are uniquely and wonderfully created.
  • You are everything to your children despite your screw-ups.
  • You are everything to your parents despite your screw-ups.
  • You are important.
  • You are not a whore.
  • You are loved.
  • You are rich.
  • You can eat the elephant in front of you, one bite at a time.
  • You are not a failure.
  • You touch more lives than you’ll ever know.
You never know when the opportunity will present itself. It likely will be understated, and if we aren’t paying attention, it may just pass by unnoticed.

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never Is, but always To be blest:
The soul, uneasy and confin’d from home,
Rests and expatiates in a life to come.

-Alexander Pope

May God bless your soul and you find peace, brother Trey.


Jeremy Floyd

Jeremy Floyd is the President at FUNYL Commerce. Formerly, he was the CEO and President of Lirio, Bluegill Creative, a marketing and communications firm in Knoxville, Tennessee. In addition to managing the digital strategies, Floyd was an adjunct professor for the University of Tennessee Chattanooga MBA program teaching digital strategies and social media. Floyd blogs at jeremyfloyd.com and tweets under the name @jfloyd. Jeremy is licensed to practice law in the State of Tennessee and holds a law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law and a Bachelor of Arts degree from MTSU in English and Philosophy.

  • erik

    great post jeremy… loved our conversation yesterday… if you were close… i’d give you a high five and a hug. 🙂

  • I tend to lurk here, but wanted to say “out loud” that I appreciate you, Jeremy. Thanks for giving voice to the sadness we feel when the unthinkable has already happened and we sit here and try to reach into the past and make it not happen — and the sense that maybe we’ll be able to offer a steady hand should another of us get too close to the ledge.

  • Erik:

    I am so thankful for our conversation yesterday. It really helped me to understand what’s all around me. Chest bump.

  • Gina:

    You are my favorite lurker. 🙂

    I can’t think of any greater sense of helplessness than when someone has committed suicide. What could I have done? Could I have listened? Etc. 

    I’m willing to bet that you’ve played to roll of that rock to many.

  • One of my favorite posts of yours so far. We are all important and loved.  I also want to put a plug in for getting the proper medical care. The right doctor and/or medication can save lives and completely alleviate what Mike Wallace calls the big black dog that followed him around. 

  • Thanks for pointing out the chemical aspect of depression. I agree 100%. Undoubtedly, chemical and medical treatment is critical to treatment.nMedicine alone, however, isn’t the singular cure. It takes a strong support network.

  • Jen McClurg Roth

    Jeremy – beautiful post following a terrible tragedy. Very well said.

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