Andrew Branca

Andrew Branca

I thought I would never become a statistic. I’ve always pictured myself a strong person able to overcome anything that life threw at me but a single moment changed that in an instant.

It takes a lot of guts to admit it but I had planned to take my own life about two years ago. This thought didn’t come in an instant but slowly evolved over time and later became consuming.

Two years ago, things were going badly for me, both personally and professionally, and work had become a source of intense pressure.

I knew that I could always find comfort and peace in the writing I did as a journalist. Things seemed to always work out or, as Master Yoda in “Star Wars” would say, “The balance returned to the force.”

Meeting new people and telling their stories has always been a great source of pride for me. I knew I was making a difference across the community helping others with my writing.

The environment where I was working at the time changed, however, and it became difficult to find that connection to my work, the people I wrote about and with the readers. It felt like a great weight was upon my shoulders. While I was able to produce at the same level, resources were slowly being stripped away from the office.

Family and friends noticed a change in my personality to where I was always grumpy and hard on myself. A close friend later remarked that I looked like the guy in the comics who always had the rain cloud over my head. I remember sitting at home trying to find a reason to go in rather than calling it quits.

Adding to the pressure and outside of the office, a personal relationship also ended abruptly without warning – and it felt like my soul had been ripped from my body. At that point, I questioned a lot of things in my life, the choices I had made and even God. Life seemed unfair. It felt like a joke was being played on me and I was waiting for the punch line.

It finally came to a breaking point. I had written a note and made a trip to a pawn shop. I had it all planned out and how everything would happen. I had brought cash to make a purchase, was at the pawn shop and was looking at the firearms on display. Little did I know God would intervene and change things completely.

Within a span of five minutes, I got two phone calls from friends of mine asking how I was doing and if I was free to spend some time with them. And at that moment I froze my actions. And I thought, “What the heck am I doing here?”

I left the pawn shop, walked back to my car and sobbed. Those two simple phone calls to me changed the course of my life – and let me know that people cared.

I share this excerpt from my life as you sip your morning coffee not to get a pat on the back or to generate sympathy for myself but to help others. I want people who are thinking about going down that path to know I understand the feelings you have and how you might feel left out in the cold.

But do know, there are people who care for you. Some may already be friends. Some may be strangers who have their hands and hearts open to help even if it is just talking. I know that because I meet weekly with a group of them for coffee. Some of those who started out as strangers have since become good friends. We discuss our lives, problems and fears. It helps to share and have that burden lifted from your chest.

For those people who might see someone who is going through a tough moment in his or her life, extend a hand to help rather than judging. Face the fact that one day you may be the person in distress needing a hand up.  

As Jesus said in Mathew 25:40, “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ ”

If you don’t have anyone to whom you can turn, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis support. The Lifeline can be reached at 1-800-273-8255.

Additional resources can be found on the website at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

Andrew Branca is an award-winning journalist who joined the Waxahachie Sun in November 2018. Contact him at andrew@waxahachiesun.org.

(1) comment

Gngcole

Good morning Andrew. I am so glad you are here with us. You are a very kind person and talented writer. Thank you for sharing your story. Your post of the suicidal prevention number reminds me of something we’re might be able work toward. I heard a piece in NPR. There is a group trying to get an 899 number, similar to 911. It would be a call center for suicide prevention. People might learn and remember 899. I think they should up the game to include mental health. Maybe we could investigate and help make that happen. Let’s be a part of the solution.

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