John Rosendahl: 1955 – 9/1/2012
December 9, 2012 28 Comments
On September 1st, 2012, as I enjoyed a lazy Saturday morning in bed playing with my 4 month old daughter, we received news that my uncle had committed suicide, somewhere around 3:30 AM PT.
If you’ve received a call like this, you know the feeling of disbelief and numbness that sets in. You know the games your mind begins to play. It was a hard day for our family and close friends.
As you probably know, we’re not alone in our pain, as approximately 105 Americans take their own life daily.
Yesterday, on what would have been his 57th birthday, a few hundred friends, family, and faculty gathered at UCI. A number of close friends and co-workers led us through a recollection of his life, work, and passions. At least a dozen friends shared their memories of John.
What stood out to me was the number of people John impacted over the past 30+ years.
Climbing friends, students, and faculty all described a man with an intense passion for the pursuit of knowledge, a focused determination, and a unique ability to actively participate in the lives of the people around him. Both tears and laughter were shared.
What struck me is that a man who was so loved, and who seemingly gave so much of himself to others, reached a point where life seemed to hold no further promise. How can this be?
John leaves behind a tribe of people impacted, touched, and moved by both the magnitude of his life, and the circumstances of his death.
Through this experience, I’ve come to know people in my family I’ve never met, who are more similar to me than I would have expected. I’ve come to hear stories of my uncle, and how he changed lives through his fierce intelligence and quiet ambition.
I’m sad that my daughter will never get to know her great uncle, his unique laugh, and his love for puns. I can only wonder at what solace he may have found in her giggling, cooing, and loving embrace.
Suicide strikes families across the globe on an all too frequent basis. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, over 38,000 people in the United States die by suicide every year. In the United States:
- Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death.
- A person dies by suicide about every 14 minutes.
- Ninety percent of all people who die by suicide have a diagnosable psychiatric disorder at the time of their death.
- There are four male suicides for every female suicide, but three times as many females as males attempt suicide.
This is real stuff, and happens to real people like you and me every day.
Our family is thankful for everyone who came to the memorial, and those who have supported us through the past few months. Please continue to pray for my aunt (John’s wife), cousin (John’s son), mom (John’s sister), and grandma (John’s mom).
Here’s a slide show of pictures from the memorial. Click on a photo to enlarge it and see the caption.
If you knew John, I’d love to hear from you and your memories of my uncle. Leave me a comment below. If you’ve lost someone close to due to suicide, tell me how it has impacted you.
I’ll miss John dearly.
Update December 21st, 2012: This post has suddenly jumped to the #1 spot, receiving most of its traffic from search engines. I can clearly see there are a lot of you searching for information about John. If you have a specific question, or are wrestling with emotions related to this situation, I’d love to hear from you. Leave me a comment below or email me at email@example.com. Don’t hold back. I want to hear from you.
Update January 26th, 2013: This post continues to receive a lot of inbound traffic and correspondence. I’ve updated it to include a photo gallery of John’s memorial.