A Kingman minister and other family members of a 21-year-old man who killed himself because he was despondent over a breakup have penned a primer to help others prevent suicide.
Fair of Desert Crossroads Free Methodist Church said the loss of his son, Mark Adam Fair, inspired him to write and self-publish "Suicide the Unmentionable Killer." Also contributing to the book are his wife, Marcia, 15-year-old daughter Alison; son Carl, also a minister; and his daughter-in-law, Christine.
The book, written in memory of their son, contains large print but covers a lot of ground in its 30 pages on suicide, which they wrote is the eighth leading cause of death for all Americans.
It provides statistics; discusses who is at risk of suicide and warning signs; attempts to shatter myths with facts; offers advice for families, friends and communities; and contains a simulated phone conversation with a person who is contemplating suicide.
"It's written to be very practical and quick reading," Fair said.
Fair, 59, said the book was not intended to be therapeutic for his family.
"I wrote this after this happened," he said.
"We decided to put emphasis on prevention of youth suicides."
He said his son killed himself by carbon monoxide poisoning after a breakup with his girlfriend and a mere seven hours before he completed his education in paleontology at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff.
He died Feb.
"We were not aware of all the things that were going on with our son, like planning to quit school when he was seven hours from finishing (and) not calling," Fair said.
"He said once to us, 'I'm so afraid,' and we just talked that through.
We did not pick up on it as a suicidal sign."
Fair, who counsels people who are depressed and troubled teens, said the family decided to go public after his son's suicide.
They wanted to establish a ministry to help families instead of staying quiet about their tragedy.
"It can happen to anybody," he said.
"The potential is in every family.
Depression is just a sweeping problem across the nation."
Fair said he believes newspapers should publicize suicides.
With rare exceptions, newspapers do not report suicides because of the fear that doing so would inspire others to take their lives.
"It would make the community more aware of this national tragedy," Fair said.
Besides serving as a minister for at Desert Crossroads for nine years, Fair has taught ethics, philosophy and world religions at the Kingman campus of Mohave Community College for eight years.
A former student in his ethics class, A.J.
Legault, said he attempted suicide at the age of 20 because he was in denial over being gay.
He said he was serving in the U.S.
Army in Panama when he put an M-16 in his mouth but did not pull the trigger.
"Had I successfully killed myself, nobody would have known the reason," Legault said.
"I was convinced that I was going to lose my family, I was going to lose my friends" if they found out his sexual orientation.
However, Legault, a former Kingman resident who now works as a ranger at Grand Canyon National Park, said his feelings for his friends stopped him from taking his life.
He said he knew Fair's son and felt "complete, absolute utter shock" when the college student killed himself.
"If his friends knew that he was planning to kill himself, they would have jumped in if they could to prevent him from doing that," Legault said.
Legault, who is in his 30s and now open about his homosexuality, said he has not read Fair's book yet.
One of Fair's congregants, Jack Long, said he contemplated suicide in 1960 because his father, Harry, died in a car accident and suspected his wife was cheating on him.
Long, a 72-year-old retired baker, said he drove from Los Angeles to his mother's home in Perry, Mich..
He recalled drinking a bottle of whiskey, locking himself in a bathroom, filling a bathtub with hot water, cutting his wrist twice and holding his arm in the water,
He passed out, and his brother, Clive, broke down the door when he noticed Jack had been in the bathroom for a while and was not responding to his pleas.
The doctor sewed up his wounds, he underwent a blood transfusion, and he was released.
Long said a foreman at work urged him to hire someone to beat up his wife's lover, but he decided to do that himself.
After breaking the man's jaw with a beer bottle, he spent seven days in a mental hospital.
The hospital stay changed his mind about suicide.
In retrospect, Long said reading Fair's book and literature "would have been a big help for me at that time."
Fair said, "I don't think people sit down and think, 'I will commit suicide.' I think it is a spontaneous blindness."
He and his family are trying to open eyes with the book, with about 50 copies now in print.
He is accepting donations, with proceeds going to the church or to make it possible to supply copies of the book for free.
The Fairs also created a Web site, www.suicide-youth-teen-college.com.