Offline 17 Days...

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Michael D. King
  • 337th Air Support Flight
Being stationed so far from Yokota, it may surprise you that I feel
personnally impacted by a suicide there.  As I was about to undertake
another of my tasks, I came across an email reference claims against the
member's estate.  I was taken back to navigator training when I had just
returned from Vale, Colorado with the Naval Aviation Choir performing a
Christmas Concert for President Ford.  Who would have known that the next
week we would performing at a homegoing service for one of our own choir
members.  The idea of washing out of flight school was more than he could

I took a moment to ponder what I would say to the young man if I could have
prevented this tragedy.  I could tell him that God loves him, or that his
family would miss him.  Maybe I'd invite him to go lift with me, take him
over to see a chaplain, or buy him a cheese steak.  I typed his name into
the outlook address bar and expected to see an out of office note or some
direction to contact his chain of command if there were any questions on his
whereabouts.  I simply saw the standard out of office tracker that said
"Offline 16 Days".  Surely this young man had a job where he communicated
with people throughout the course of the week.  Some of those people are
probably wondering why he's not responding to their requests. 

Try as they might, neither they nor I will ever get a response from this
young man, there is only silence.  As of September 11th 2015 he's been
offline for 17 days and is not coming back.  He won't answer anymore, his
decision is made.  There are others pondering whether or not to go offline
permanently.  For anyone in that boat I ask you to consider giving life one
more chance, one more minute, one more hour, one more day at a time.
Whatever the circumstance is, I cannot promise it will get better in a day's
time.  But perhaps a day, a week or a few months down the road, haze will
give way to focus and perspective, darkness will give way to light,
obstacles will yield to opportunity.  Someday the challenge of today will be
a lesson of encouragement for how you made it through.  Please know that if
you can matter to someone so far away who has never met you, there is
someone next to you to whom you matter greatly.

To those who can not fathom thoughts of suicide, please look around you.
You may be the happiest person on the planet, but perhaps one of your
teammates is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide.  Talk to
them, get to know them.  Lend a hand, a word of encouragement, or a spare
moment to help them find joy, peace, and purpose.