When a Father Commits Suicide
We all go through dark times in our lives. Whether it’s financial difficulties, marital tension, struggles with our children, or failures in our work, we may sometimes wonder if we’re simply a burden to all those around us.
Today’s guest is Adam Schafer. He is a host on Mind Pump, one of the biggest podcasts on iTunes. Adam is not a dad, but he was the son of a father who committed suicide. Adam was seven years old when his dad shot himself, and the tragedy created a shock wave that still reverberates in his life today.
Children whose fathers commit suicide have a 50/50 chance of being suicidal themselves. Adam struggled with isolation and depression because of the impact of his father’s suicide. He shares how he uses times of darkness to forge himself into the man he is today.
[bctt tweet=”‘When you decide to exit out of this place early, I don’t think you realize the collateral damage that truly comes from that.’—Adam Schafer #suicide #depression #mentalhealth #men #dads #fathers” username=”gooddadprojct”]
Adam Schafer’s Story
One day, Adam’s uncle came to pick him up from school. He didn’t see his uncle often, so it was a nice surprise for Adam. But instead of going home, he was taken to a neighbor’s house where the whole family was waiting in tears. Adam was told his father shot himself on accident while cleaning his gun. Of course, this wasn’t the truth.
Adam couldn’t process the emotions. He felt guilty because he didn’t cry at the funeral. When Adam returned to school, he didn’t know what to tell the other kids about his father. He told them his dad died in the Air Force and let them fill in the blanks.
His young mom was at a loss as to what to do. She had to take care of Adam and his younger sister. A year later, she married the first man who came into her life. It was an abusive relationship, and at as young as 8 years old, Adam was between his mom and stepdad breaking up fights.
At the same time, they were a very Christian family. Adam learned and listened in church how people were supposed to treat each other, but he would see the opposite at home. He remembers trying to teach his mom and step dad how to communicate with each other. At the age of 10, he felt like he was the most mature person in the household.
Adam’s mother isolated them, avoiding the stigma that came with the suicide. Because of this, Adam never developed certain social skills that most people take for granted, like how to enjoy family gatherings and how to receive gifts. These experiences were never part of his life.
Adam is now 37 years old. Till this day, he is still sifting through the fallout from his dad’s suicide. It has been a complex and difficult journey but it has also helped Adam become more empathetic and self-aware. He has learned to smirk at times of darkness, knowing that the best times of his life are waiting for him on the other side.
[bctt tweet=”‘You create so much damage that a person can’t even unpack and figure out.’—Adam Schafer #suicide #depression #loss #grief #children #families #relationships ” username=”gooddadprojct”]
What You’ll Learn
- Why you don’t have to have a kid to be in the role of a father
- How suicide sets up kids for failure later in life
- How Adam pieced together his father’s suicide
- What circumstances led to his father’s suicide
- How the suicide destroyed Adam’s relationship with his mom
- Why he doesn’t know how to respond to getting gifts
- His challenges in being part of his wife’s close-knit family
- How the Bible laid a foundation for his healing
- How the ripple effect of his dad’s suicide trickles down to younger siblings and to generations past, present, and future
- Adam’s battle with depression after getting off testosterone
- His message for dads who are suffering in a pit of darkness
[bctt tweet=”‘You’re better off here for sure. In the darkest times, the other side of that is always the best times of my life.’—Adam Schafer #mentalhealth #mentalillness #suicide #suicideawareness #dads #men #fathers ” username=”gooddadprojct”]
MENTIONED EPISODE: Mind Pump Ep. 837 – Larry Hagner of the Dad Edge Podcast
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This was my experience…I can’t tell you how good and also painful it is to hear someone went through the same thing. Thank you for sharing. I was six, and we lived together without my mom. He was the best, and I lost my person very early. Had to learn to go forward without and to also use what I was left with to be good to those around me.
I’m a 43 year old Christian man. Husband and dad. I have an amazing life by any standard, but almost daily I struggle with actual physical pangs of depression inside my core that I really can’t explain. No one knows. And daily I think about killing myself. I won’t do it, though. I think about my two daughters and my son, and I can’t do that to them. So I won’t. But I think about it all the time. Writing this on a random website. Googling things like “Christian dad suicide.” This is what I do most days when I step away from my work for a few minutes.