This past Tuesday morning my colleagues and I were summoned to a 15 minute all-hands meeting within the hour. Of course, impromptu all-hands meetings never end up with “we think you all deserve a raise!” or anything else of any good, so folks were naturally nervous. The last meeting of this nature was an announcement of layoffs and restructuring and prior to that was the sale of the company — so folks were naturally imagining the worst.
Unfortunately, the news we received couldn’t have been any worse. A co-worker, who occupied the cube next to mine, could no longer cope with the demons inside him and took his own life on Sunday. It hit us all like a massive punch in the gut. Our friend and colleague, an extremely gregarious soul who was always full of laughter and always the life of the party, had committed suicide.
He was also a person who liked to push limits. He is one of the few individuals in my IT career that I’ve specifically taken away local administrative rights to their PC.
This afternoon, while sitting through the memorial service, I began thinking about the last four years he and I had worked together, and specifically the removal of those admin rights. After a few months of running without these rights, and much begging and pleading, I finally restored his admin rights and from that point on it was a running joke between us, “HEY Kevin… I haven’t messed up my computer yet!” It was always good for a little chuckle. But it got me to thinking about it all… I had taken away those admin rights to protect this person from himself. To limit the access he had over his PC so that he could remain productive. That’s when a bit of parallelism struck me… it’s too bad that there isn’t a better way for someone to remove the administrative rights to the master computer — the brain. Had those admin rights been removed from my colleague’s “personal” computer, he might still be around today as it would have protected him from doing harm to himself.
Rightfully so, the ability to grant or revoke that ultimate set of privileges are left to the supreme SysAdmin, nonetheless, the parallelism amused me.
So I guess my point is… I don’t really know. What I do know though is that 5 kids are now without a father because of a self-destructive behavior. For those of you with kids, take some additional time this weekend, and every day onward, to spend time with your kids and other loved ones. If you know of someone dealing with depression who also happens to have a self-destructive behavior, keep an eye on them and intervene if you can.
If I could add anything to Kevin’s story, it’d be this. If you are coping with depression and self-destructive behaviors of your own, get help. Talk to someone, now, before those are your kids without a parent, or your coworkers and friends who are left to wonder what might have been….