Every year in America, 44, 193 people give up hope for a better life and kill themselves. For every one suicide, twenty-five people attempt to kill themselves. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the US. Middle aged men and women, 45-64 have some of the highest rates of suicide. And men are 3.5 times more likely to end their life than women. (stats from here)
I’ve been there and wrote about it in my book. I’m no expert, I’m a janitor with my own experiences. But I’ve been lucky. A long time ago I read Og Mandino. And for some reason his story has always resonated with me. And his words have come back to me at my bleakest moments. Have you ever heard of Og?
Og Mandino was born in Nantick, Massachusetts. His mother died after he finished high school and Og became a bomber pilot in WW2 serving with Jimmy Stewart. He survived thirty missions over Germany, when the average crewman had a one in four chance of completing twenty-five missions.
When the war ended he came back to America, got married, became a father, sold insurance and then became an alcoholic. His wife and child left him, he lost his job and ended up homeless in Cleveland, Ohio. One rainy day while he was walking by a thrift store he stopped and looked through the front window. Inside was a hand gun and some bullets. The gun was $20 and the bullets were $5. He reached in his pocket and only had twenty dollars, enough money for the gun but not the bullets. He hung his head and walked away. Since it was cold out he decided to go to the library to warm up.
Og loved books and his mother had encouraged him to be a writer when he was younger. As he wandered around the library, enjoying the warmth, he came across the self help section and picked up a book by W. Clement Stone called, Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude. That book inspired Og so much he wrote to the author and asked him for a job in sales, since W. Clement Stone owned a large insurance company.
Og became a top salesman, manager, executive and then editor of Stones’ magazine, called Success. Og eventually left Success magazine to become a writer, fulfilling his and his mothers’ dream. His first book was The Greatest Salesman In the World, which became an instant classic. Og has written twenty-one books that have sold over fifty million copies.
Personally, Og’s writings have probably saved my life. At a low point in my life, homeless and broke, I climbed a steep hill on an old Tennessee hog farm where I was temporarily staying in an old farmhouse. I worked construction all day and was tired, depressed and frustrated. As I got to the top of the hill I fell to my knees calling out to God as I cried and I felt a breeze blow and a calm come over me as these words lit up my mind:
“Consider a painting by Rembrandt or a bronze by Degas or a violin by Stradivarius or a play by Shakespeare. They have great value for two reasons: their creators were masters and they are few in number.
Yet there are more than one of each of these. On that reasoning you are the most valuable treasure on the face of the earth, for you know who created you and there is only one of you.
Never, in all the seventy billion humans who have walked this planet since the beginning of time has there been anyone exactly like you. Never until the end of time, will there be another such as you.
You have shown no knowledge or appreciation of your uniqueness.
Yet, you are the are the rarest thing in the world”. (from The God Memorandum by Og Mandino)
At that moment of despair, on top of a hill in the middle of nowhere the words of a deceased author I had never met saved me. They gave me hope and calmed me down. I walked down the hill and went to bed. Thank you Mister Og.
For lack of a couple dollars, Og’s life was saved. Because of an author he had never met before, W. Clement Stone, Og’s life prospered. And because of Og’s writing, my life was saved and, who knows, maybe someday it’ll prosper to the point where I can be a torch for someone else, who can then pass it on as I, someday, will also pass on.
Please don’t be afraid to ask for help. Eventually I did and I got help as so many others have. Find medical professional. Here is the number to the Suicide Prevention Center: 1-800-273-8255