“You’re fired.” No one wants to hear that phrase, but this is exactly what I heard after an internal investigation. After being driven home on a Friday afternoon and walking into an empty house, I could only think of the embarrassment I was going to cause my family and friends. They did not need to experience that because of my own stupidity. My dad was trying to call me, as was a friend, but I did not answer the phone. I did not want to talk to anyone. My identity had been stripped from me.
Both my dad and my friend know that if I do not answer the phone for them, something is not right. My dad called my sister and suggested she go over to my house to check on me. It was good she did because I was sitting in the garage with a bottle of wine and a bottle of sleeping pills. I thought killing myself was the best way to save my family from having to deal with my mistakes. That plan went out the window when my sister walked up to the house with my nieces and nephew. I could not do that to them. They were the only kids I had, and I did not want the last memory of their aunt to be her death. Those kids switched my focus without even knowing it.
Like many other first responders, I kept that episode to myself. I did not share with my sister, other family members, or friends that I considered suicide in that moment. I contacted the Employee Assistance Program and went to counseling. However, I did not tell my counselor about it either because I had the common misconception that the counselor was a direct pipeline to management and would report everything I said.