Commentary: Preventing suicide; getting help

John DeMello, Southington Veterans Committee
Phone: (860) 276-6299

Have you ever looked at a rainbow and wondered what is on the other side? Looking at stars at night, have you found yourself making wishes and hoping that they come true? We believe in wishes because at some time in life, someone told us, and we believed them.

Let us talk about reality now. Has anyone prayed, wished, or hoped that the overwhelming pain driving them toward suicide would take away their:

  • anxiety and agitation;
  • reckless behaviors;
  • hopeless feelings that there’s no reason to live;
  • rage, anger, and mood swings; or
  • thoughts about death and dying?

What is on the other side that would make it better? No one ever lived and came back to tell us. What is on the other side that is better?

I know firsthand about the pain and agony of living everyday with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD); feeling worthless and helpless; becoming reckless in my behavior; and re-living scenes from the military and as a civilian law enforcement officer that put me back at a place in my mind that I did not want to be.

I was slipping into darkness, drinking, and taking opioids legally from the veterans hospital for pain that I still live with. I gave up on everybody that loved me and cared for me. I ruined my life, not knowing what I was doing. I blamed myself for failing to help and save people that I saw die.

The death and destruction that I witnessed ate me up over the years. Life felt worthless. The outside person that people saw didn’t match the inside person that felt like he was dying. I’m talking about suicidal thoughts.

I lived with that thought of suicide and struggled with how to relieve the pain.

I never followed through because I did not know what was on the other side. I learned during religious classes at a young age that people who take their own life don’t go to heaven. I turned away from the people that truly believed in me and loved me the most. I did not care.

My wife Jin, who is a true angel, is the reason that I am still here today.

Because of my experience, I want Southington to know that I have reached out to an amazing group called Resilience Grows Here (RGH). They deal with training and assistance that helps with suicide prevention.

The Southington Veterans Committee will be promoting and working with RGH in our community. They will speak, teach and train an array of professionals, veterans, and the public about suicide, along with signs, symptoms and prevention.

If you need help or are concerned with a loved one, get help immediately. All major hospitals provide emergency triage and treatment for suicidal ideation. There are also many other resources available:

  • For emergencies, dial 911;
  • For youth under 18, call 211 to get in contact with EMPS crisis intervention;
  • For the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, call 1-(800) 273-8255;
  • For DMAS Connecticut military support program, call 1(866) 251-2913;
  • For the veterans crisis line, call 1 (800) 273-8255 (press 1 for veterans);
  • For veterans that feel like they’re all alone, call the Southington Veterans Committee at (860) 276-6299 or come to one of our veteran coffee hours at the Southington Public Library. (Our next one is Wednesday, April 17 at 10 a.m.).

John DeMello is a member of the Southington Veterans Committee. The committee can be reached at Town Hall, 75 Main St., by phone at (860) 276-6299, or by email at

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