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Chuck Hinman: When Someone You Love Takes Their Life

Chuck Hinman: IJMA: 126: When Someone You Love Takes Their Life
Addiction to gambling is in the news with the powerball stories. Here is a tragic account by Chuck of his daughter's death which he attributes in part to gambling. The next earlier Chuck Hinman Story: - IJMA 193: Living With Macular Degeneration

By Chuck Hinman

When Someone You Love Takes Their Life

I have some very bad news - Mary Ann, our 46 year-old daughter took her life on Wednesday, March 22, 2006. Of course, it was a complete surprise.


Mary Ann doctored for depression and the medicine worked. What I didn't know was that over the last few years she had developed a casino gambling habit. She became "addicted" -- whatever that means. She took her paychecks and headed for a casino outside Tulsa - gambled and frequently lost everything and then had nothing with which to pay her bills. Being often pressed for money, she frequently went without her depression medicine which is unthinkable. Mary Ann made one flawed decision after another which I now attribute to her addiction and her problem with depression.

Her daughter and my former son-in-law found in going through her papers that at first, she apparently had good luck gambling -- to the extent she paid income tax on her winnings for a couple of years. I now understand when a casino opens, the winnings are often inflated to entice the unknowing gambler -- not knowing things won't always BE THAT WAY. Darned casinos -- I hate everything about them.

As expected, her streak of good luck turned sour and for the last two years she couldn't win and took money from everyone to feed her addiction and keep her house and car payments and utilities current. She made adequate money -- just managed it extremely poorly together with an addiction that enveloped her. Apparently she was unaware of the dangerousness of her situation.

Everyone was hounding her for money and without my knowing where her money was going she told me many times that she didn't sleep well -- waking up with severe panic attacks. No wonder!

Things got so bad in recent months that the loan company was threatening foreclosure on her house. In addition, she hadn't paid insurance on her Honda SUV and that loan company was about to repossess her car so she had no way to get to work. In short she was in an unbelievable mess -- all unknown to any of us. Not really "unknown" -- I bailed her out many times but didn't know the "truth" what was happening to her money. She denied several times my questioning whether she was gambling. Many times in her sickness, my heart was crushed to find that my daughter could not be depended on to tell the truth.

I was stunned earlier this year when she needed a huge amount of money to pay off gambling debts -- admitting for the first time, gambling had wrecked her life. She indicated to me that she had learned a lesson and I believed her. BUT I, AND PROBABLY MARY ANN, HAD UNDERESTIMATED THE POWER OF HER ADDICTION AND WHAT TOLL HER CARELESSNESS TAKING HER MEDICATION FOR DEPRESSION WAS TAKING ON HER ENDANGERED LIFE.

In part of her suicide letter to me, she said "I needed rescuing so badly but no one could see how I was drowning plus with no friends and being all alone who would have known. Please forgive me Dad. I am so sorry Dad! So so sorry."

For years I had been in denial about the seriousness of depression. I acknowledge that I, possibly like most men of my generation felt depression was something you could wade through without the luxury of a doctor and expensive medicine. Little by little and coming to a head with my precious baby's tragic and needless death, I now know that depression is to be taken SERIOUSLY. You dare not fool around with it! How foolish of both Mary Ann and me! There were signs; I just didn't read them.

I should have taken charge, since she was incapable and probably too embarrassed to seek professional help. With her sickness, she shouldn't have been left to battle all this on her own -- no way. I know now that depression is a sickness, and it is unthinkable that any family member such as a Father would allow a daughter to wallow in cancer or diabetes without his effective help. So why depression?

She had confided with me in recent years -- how much she wished to have a mate and to be married. But after several special friends, one of whom took his life, it became somewhat certain in Mary Ann's mind that marriage would not happen again for her. She of all people needed desperately a helpmate in the form of a husband. She was obviously incomplete and she sensed it. That is not to suggest that she did not have friends. I have been utterly "bumfoozled," how many of Bartlesville's leading builders, when they were in the store on business would make their way to her office in the back to shoot the breeze with "this little blond fireball"! Everyone who knew Mary Ann loved her. She was a kick!

But the bottom line was she had a sickness. She was not hopelessly sick, I am certain; she could and should have been rescued but as she predicted "who would have known?" I'm her Dad and I didn't know or didn't take seriously what I did know.

The worst was yet to come. On Sunday March 19, she came to my apartment while I was at church, found the check books to my accounts and forged my name to two $500-- checks and headed to the casino hoping to have "that" stroke of good luck that had eluded her so long. Just maybe, -- just maybe in a gambler addicted mind -- maybe this would be the long-awaited replay of the times when she experienced exceptional good luck, like the time she was pictured holding a giant check for $3,000 at a Tulsa casino! Wow, those were the exciting glory days! But unfortunately in casino parlance "her luck had run out."

Is there a lesson here for any of my readers or someone you know? Am I speaking to anyone who is in this trouble? Please, please scream until someone listens!

I couldn't help grieving when I imagined the lure to someone like Mary Ann's flawed mind in this morning's Tulsa World -- the picture of the luxury car to be won TODAY by someone (even my unsuspecting sweetie -- Mary Ann). What a life-wrecking come on! And what's worse, it's played out all over the world -- not just in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There ought to be a law! This is criminal for a lot of "challenged people"! Oh God -- please help our nation with its sickness. There are so many who are crying out "for rescuing" and no one hears. I didn't hear anything -- of all people. I heard her cry out in the night when she was a baby but . . . . . . zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz!

>From her suicide note to me, apparently Mary Ann was totally unable to face me with her latest flawed -- embarrassing decision.

Her tragic words -- "I have been suicidal for many months now but this (forging her Dad's name to two checks to herself) has put me over the edge. I DID love you Dad very much. I know you are probably wondering how I did all I've done and love you. I was sick with a horrible addiction Dad, and it took over and I couldn't stop. I hope someday you will find a way to forgive me for all my sins . . . . . . I love you all very much ... Mary Ann DeLaPorte.

"Take care of Kasi for me." There was much more to the 3 page letter.

She hung herself from the stairwell in her 2 story condo. She was so pressed with all things closing in on her --utilities, house, car, that she was even going to have to forego possibly the happiest event in her life -- that of seeing her precious daughter graduate from Southern Methodist University in one month, summa cum laude, probably the #1 graduate in her graduating class. All of us but her precious Mom will be there to cheer her on. Tears!

Our pastor used the words to the well known hymn -- "What A Friend We Have in Jesus" in her Memorial Service. It is of course, too late to hope the truth of the words of this wonderful song had a healing balm for Mary Ann -- but at least it was good advice to the nearly 200 people attending her service with their problems with "just living." It ain't a piece of cake!

In case you have forgotten, these are the wonderful words -

"What a friend we have in Jesus, all our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit, O what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry everything to God in prayer.

Have we trials and temptations? Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged; take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness; take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy laden, cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge, take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do your friends despise, forsake you? Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms He'll take and shield you; you will find a solace there."

In addition, I prepared a handout at the service of my writing "It's a Girl" from my book It's Just Me. You will remember it was my joyous account forty six years earlier when Connie and I adopted that little pink squirming bundle of joy, our little Mary Ann. Obviously we have a lot of happy times to remember, thank you Lord!

Our family have and claim spiritual resources in Jesus Christ. I don't know how we would have coped without Him holding our hand all the way! Additional hope and encouragement - Mary Ann had made a profession of faith In Jesus Christ at the Falls Creek Baptist Church encampment in the Arbuckle Mountains of southern Oklahoma when she was in high school! Our loss, thank God is only temporary! But oh, how it hurts in the night!

And last, but certainly not least was the priceless help received from Detective Steve Birmingham of the Bartlesville Police Department. He is the detective assigned to suicides.

I didn't realize what a professional he is at his job until he came by my apartment to counsel me and talk about whatever I needed to talk about. He said that people like Mary Ann who once they make the decision to take their life are surprisingly at peace. They no longer suffer the panic attacks Mary Ann had told me were frequent and unbearable beyond description.

He said that Mary Ann no doubt experienced days of peace that were new and pleasant to her. I believe her suicide note to me was written in a time of that peace. Her letter didn't sound like the rattling of a deranged mind. She sounded calm in her writing.

Our son said that she had called him several days before (a rare experience) and he said they had the best sibling conversation visiting and laughing about everything -- no indication whatsoever of what was about to happen.

My granddaughter said she had a telephone call from her Mom a few hours before with nothing unusual being discussed -- all very normal -- all to be expected according to Detective Birmingham. I anticipate talking with Steve again if I have problems dealing -- what a PRO!

As you can see, I have been surrounded with wonderful helps - all provided by my dependable Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The song, "What A Friend ["I"] We Have In Jesus" has taken on new meaning for me, an 84 year old man.

Apparently Mary Ann was on her third day off work (probably contemplating her suicide) -- it was Wednesday morning and she perhaps knew that a co-worker would become concerned and use a key to her condo to check her whereabouts. It is thought she stepped off a lower landing in the stairwell of her two story condo and hung herself with an electric cord attached to an upstairs stair post. A friend said that by this method, Mary Ann was mercifully quickly unaware of anything.

Obviously, I haven't left much for you to wonder about after writing "When Someone You Love Takes Their Life." I know of no reason why this account will not be in my next book soon to be finished. It is not intended to be unduly graphic. I have prayed that God will use my experience to speak in some way to someone else who has already experienced or perhaps in the future will experience this worst of all tragedies -- the death of your child.

Please understand that although there are some things surrounding Mary Ann's untimely death where you may think that I am feeling guilty and pointing an incriminating finger at myself. If so, you have totally misunderstood.

Mary Ann didn't point a finger at me. If you are in doubt, reread her last words to me. I have read them many times with tear drenched eyes -- clinging to each word to get her exact meaning and demeanor. I can.

We were privileged to have her precious life for awhile. It was wonderful and God-given! Like a lot of people my age, there are a lot of things about my life I would like to do differently.... this is one of those obviously. The message is "TAKE DEPRESSION SERIOUSLY!"

Written by Mary Ann's Dad, Chuck Hinman. 25 April 2006



This story was posted on 2012-12-02 06:11:24
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