28th of June 2018
As I am leaving my brother’s house, I say bye to him in our signature
hello/goodbye dance, and give my 6 year-old nephew and 1 year-old niece a
hug and kiss before I head out the door, a strange and unfamiliar feeling comes
over me, something that I have not experienced before. I shake it off and get into
my mother in law’s Kia; I had let my good friend David hold my truck because he
was I town, and started to head back home. Again, this strange and unfamiliar
feeling is still lingering and I just cold not shake it, so I decided to make a left and
head down I-35S towards Austin rather than make that right to go home.
My mind is going a million miles an hour. What the fuck is going on with
me? Why am I feeling like this? Still not sure what is going on, I continue to
drive south, thinking to myself, all I need is time to figure this out, figuring out
what is still the lingering question. Out of nowhere, I start to cry uncontrollably.
My emotions are at 100! Anxiety; Guilt; Sadness; but most of all fear. Fear of
the unknown, I still have no idea what is wrong with me. I start to cry even more,
not knowing what the outcome will be.
“Channing, You’re better off dead.”
WHAT? Where did that come from? Who are you and why are you
telling me to kill myself? Immediately, I know what is happening. I am about to
commit suicide! Oh my God! This is how it ends…me driving on the highway,
ending my life as I know it. I try to shake the feeling but I cant think of anything
“You are going to die today. This is meant to be. All will be better in
just a few moments.”
“Keep driving, Channing.”
I start to cry even harder. The feeling is so intense, so intimate, how can I
say no to something that I feel so passionate about. My brain is saying yes but in
my heart, I know it was the wrong thing to do.
“Just keep driving, Channing.”
Everything around me was telling me to go through with it; the songs on
the radio…the billboards on the highway…the on lookers in the cars passing me
by…everything. I look to my right and notice that I am on the upper level of I-35
looking at Texas University. I can see the capital building in the distance. All I
have to do is speed up and make this sharp right and with the speed of the car,
the impact of the barrier, and the semi truck behind me, it should be the perfect
combination to get the job done.
“Every twenty-two seconds, a veteran takes their life…now…it’s your
“Get out of my fucking head!”
By now, the tears are flooding down my face so much that my eyesight
becomes blurry, the neck of my shirt looks like I’ve ran a marathon, and I’m
saying to myself that I will just become another statistic…just another weak,
powerless, insubstantial war veteran that cant deal with his shit. A pussy of a
I continue to drive south on I-35 not realizing that I am now on the west
side of San Antonio. I am not even on I-35 anymore. I’m on Highway 90 headed
west towards Castroville.
The music stops.
I close my eyes.
It’s suddenly silent.
It’s my wife, Patrice, on the phone.
“Where are you?’
“I don’t know.” Still very emotional, I start to cry. In my mind, I want to say
please help me! I don’t know what I am doing! Save me! But the tears keep my
silent. By this time, Patrice is crying.
“Do you need me to get you?”
Then I hear three words that broke me down even more.
“Please come home.”
As I try to clear my voice, I muster up the courage and say, “ok.”
Retired ARMY Sergeant First Class, Channing J. Washington wrote this from a VA mental health facility in Temple, TX while getting professional treatment for being a high risk suicide threat. We're fortunate this story ended with him seeking medical attention as so many of these stories do not. If you or someone you know is at risk of committing suicide, please reach out to 800-273-8255. For veterans please call Veterans Crisis Line at 800-273-8255.