Monday, February 20, 2012

In Case You Missed It - WBTV's David Whisenent Shares a Painful Family Story

WBTV reporter David Whisenent tells of his father's suicide 25 years ago and the affect it has had on his life. In this short clip from WBT's Keith Larson show, David talks about his father, the pain even 25 years later is palatable.

By David Whisenant

Every now and then I feel the need to write a long form note like this one. Sometimes it’s just for fun, or maybe to inform friends about upcoming events. That’s not the case with this note. This is something I feel obligated to share with the specific intention of addressing anyone who has seriously considered suicide. Did that last word carry a punch? It certainly did for me when I heard it used to describe what happened on February 17, 1987. It was 25 years ago this week.

For reasons that I still don’t hold with any certainty, my father, J.R. “Jake” Whisenant, put a .22 pistol to the side of his head and pulled the trigger. He did this while sitting at his desk in the business he had owned and operated on South Main Street in Salisbury for more than 40 years.

At the time I was working at WSTP/WRDX Radio. My mother called and told me that something was wrong and asked me to come home. When I got to my parents’ home, I called my dad’s store. One of his employees answered in a very normal manner, saying, “City Sales, can I help you?” I told him who it was and asked if everything was OK. His reply still runs through my mind frequently. He said, “David, your dad’s dead, I don’t know what’s going on.” I thanked him and hung up.

So there it is, the reason I wanted to post this note. It’s to say to anyone who has ever considered suicide that it should be immediately ruled out as a viable option. What may appear to be an alluring answer and immediate exit from the troubles of the day is, in reality, a horror that continually renews itself for those who are left behind. I’m a survivor, and that’s tougher than you may think. When someone commits this act, I’m convinced they are not giving any thought to what will happen to loved ones. It certainly puts an end to their trouble, but it opens up difficulties and challenges that last for years, at least for 25.

The rest of David's story is here.

Cedar's Take: Major props to David for telling his story. I caught bits of David's conversation with Keith Larson while running errands around Charlotte on Friday morning and thought then as I do now it took a lot of courage to face this publicly. But maybe it will make someone else think twice before committing the most selfish of acts.

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