From Tragic Loss To Fully Rooted Faith

Many of you responded last month to our interview with Kim Jaggers. Kim's husband committed suicide fifteen years ago, and she offered a unique perspective into the lasting impact of suicide. Will JaggersThis month, Kim's son Will opens up to us about how his dad's suicide impacted his life. Will is eighteen and a senior in high school. You will find his wise insight into his family's tragedy and his source of hope in today and tomorrow's posts.

Erin: Briefly share the circumstances around your dad's death.

Will: It was fifteen years ago on September 5th; I was only three years old. You'd think something that happened when I was that young wouldn't impact me like it has. He was my hero, and everyone said I loved being around him. I don't remember Mom telling me my dad had died, but I remember feeling the pain. As the years went by, I was told more of the story about the awful day my dad drove to a warehouse owned by his company, filled his truck with carbon monoxide, and took his life. What had been a fairy-tale life for my parents had spiraled downward with a series of tragic events including the premature birth of my brother, the loss of income and our home. My church-going, straight-laced, former-president-of-his-senior-class, college-football-playing dad turned to cocaine to attempt to find relief. I guess he thought he couldn't beat the addiction, and during life-threatening surgery for my little brother he committed suicide. I don't know for sure what he was thinking. No one does. He didn't leave a note. I struggled for years with one question, If he loved us, why would he leave us?

Erin: What do you remember about the time when your dad died?

Will: I don't have many memories of my dad. I remember him tying my shoes. I kind of remember the last day I saw him. He left to take the garbage, and I wanted to go with him. My mom says I had just learned that Daddy went to work to make money, and after he died I was worried about how we would have money. I remember drawing a picture of him and then drawing me with him. I guess I wanted to be with him.

Erin: How has your dad's decision to commit suicide impacted your life as a teenager?

Will: Suicide just sucks, to be honest with you. As a teenager, you really want to fit in. Once people find out your dad killed himself, you are automatically different. There is always an uncomfortable awkwardness once people learn about my history. I remember when I was younger and before many of my friends knew, I sat in a class at my Christian school where they debated if people who kill themselves can go to heaven or not. It was all I could do not to cry. There have been many things that have made me so sad over the years. I have often wondered what it would be like to have really known Rick. It seems weird even calling him my dad. I wonder how things would have been different if he had stuck around. I wonder how I would be different. I wonder, am I like him? I hate what he did so much. For a while, I hated him. I don't anymore.

Erin: What impact has your family's unique circumstances had on your faith?

Will: This is going to seem crazy, but I don't think I would know God like I do and have such a strong faith if Rick had not killed himself. I have had to lean on God in ways that most people don't. I found out early that people can let you down. God never will. For a while, I had trouble trusting people. I think I am definitely still more cautious about letting people get close enough to hurt me. I also knew for a long time that I needed to forgive Rick. It probably took longer than it should. Once I did though, a burden was lifted. I am definitely a lot happier since I did. Unforgiveness is such a weight on your chest—and that is no way to live. One good thing about everything that happened is that I learned my security comes from God—not people or circumstances. God is good. I never really got mad at Him. I don't know if that was by God's grace or because I was so young. From a very early age, God has been my father figure. My mom constantly talked about how He was providing for us and taking care of us. She always told me how much He loved me and that He would never leave us or forsake us. God is real to me because I have a real, personal relationship with Him. I read my Bible every day because I want to hear from Him. I want to get to know Him better and grow in my relationship with Him. I pray and read my Bible to get answers to my questions and to get guidance on making decisions. I also find comfort there. There is such a peace (that doesn't make any sense) that comes from a real relationship with Jesus.

You can check out the second part of Will's story tomorrow on the blog, but for now I'd love to hear from you. How does Kim and Will's story change your perspective on suicide? How does their hope in the face of such loss encourage you to tackle the challenges in your life or family?

About the Author

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is married to her high school sweetheart, Jason, and together they parent four energetic boys on their small farm in the midwest. She is the author of more than a dozen books and Bible studies, the content manager for Revive Our Hearts, and a host of the Grounded videocast. You can hear her teach on The Deep Well with Erin Davis podcast.