Our friend Kevin Woster has been having a hard time. A mysterious and persistent illness has kept the journalist and avid outdoorsman out of his beloved fields, causing anxiety and depression that have led to occasional thoughts of suicide.
Don’t do it, Kevin. We love you, and the world is better with you than without.
To keep that message ringing more commandingly in his head than the darker thoughts, Woster has been using a variety of healthy behaviors:
Someone who had thoughts of suicide once is likely to have them again. And I have, briefly, here and there, on bad days, had those thoughts since last April when the guns went to the neighbors. I probably will again, on bad days. They don’t last long, those thoughts. But I note them and mention them to people who should know, my therapists and Mary, mainly.
At those times I try to remember that the worst moments or hours pass. I also remember my wife and my kids and my grandkids, the time I spend with them in person and on FaceTime, by phone and by text, and how precious those are. And I think about how Mary and I have made the evening meal — whatever is being served — a candlelight celebration.
I think about my own faith life and my Catholic belief that my life has great value in whatever shape it’s in and that it is not my own to take. It is my own to live, whatever the quality, whatever the length, in the best way I can.
Each day, focusing on finding a reason to celebrate, or at least find some degree of comfort or contentment, whatever my symptoms and struggles are [Kevin Woster, “Sometimes Removing the Guns from the Home Makes Good Sense,” SDPB: On the Other Hand, 2021.11.22].
Kevin’s wife Mary has also helped with one concrete action: getting all of Kevin’s guns out of the house after he first mentioned that he felt like killing himself:
“I want your guns out of this house,” she said.
The next day they were gone. Mary doesn’t mess around.
I said removing the guns wasn’t necessary. She said it was, emphatically. Mary wasn’t just acting as a wife with concerns for her husband’s state of mind, although that was her overriding motivation. But she was, and is, also a local volunteer for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. One of Moms focuses is suicides with guns, and how to prevent them.
There’s a good reason for that, especially here in South Dakota. More than 100 people a year die from gunshots in South Dakota, 80 percent of them — or about 86 people — by suicide.
Removing guns from the home of someone who might just use them for self-harm is one of the key priorities of Moms Demand Action. So Mary was adamant. And I decided not to argue. So the guns went to a neighbor’s house, which is where they’ve been, safely stored, with the ammunition still here at our house [Woster, 2021.11.22].
Kevin and Mary recognize the great value of life. That’s why one of South Dakota’s most passionate hunters now has no guns in his house.