One of my sister’s best friends from childhood was lost to suicide this past week. You can find this story at this link. I was going to post this comment on her blog, but I do understand that suicide is a more taboo subject than I sometimes realize. (As Sinead O’connor recently pointed out on twitter.) I’ve been meaning to post for sometime, about my own experience over the past couple of months, since I nearly lost my own life, but I’ve had a hard time forcing myself to do it. Hopefully, I can muster up the strength to do it soon.
Her most recent post was titled “Will She Remember?” and contained a poem she wrote about her daughter, posing the question of whether she would remember these days of her youth. The post is prefaced by this quotation: “In the happiest of our childhood memories, our parents were happy, too.” ~Robert Brault …and a photo of her daughter.
This was my response:
This is a very haunting question to have as a final post. Amanda, my dear, I wish that I had words for these moments, but there simply aren’t any. I have had many friends of friends who have been lost to this battle, but I felt pretty distant from each of those instances. You were one of my sister’s best friends in middle school, and I remember that. I also recall seeing you on the park and ride at UNCG, and pretending not to notice, because I’m sure you understand how awkward it can be to talk to people from your past whom you were somehow distantly connected to. Now, I feel a slight twinge for not saying a simple “hello.” It makes me wonder if we could’ve hit it off. I almost died this past July 30th from a similar incident. I was grateful and humbled by surviving, but now I’m left recognizing that some don’t survive, which makes me wonder why. I know you are already missed terribly, I can see that from the memorial page they made for you on Facebook. I also know that few will really understand. I wish I could offer you that understanding, but I suppose it’d be of little value now. My heart breaks for your daughter. I want her to have the understanding of how much you loved her, and the understanding of why things happen as they do, without the pain of personal struggle. I’ll pray for her. My heart breaks for you too. I know what it is like in those final moments, when the world becomes a dream, and you decide to slip away. Sometimes you feel a stirring beneath your feet, as if the ground is about to open up. Sometimes you feel nothing at all. Every time I learn that someone has taken their own life, I pray for them. I pray for them, just as I did for myself in the moments when the fear set in, the final seconds before you hear the door shut behind you. I pray for their souls, though I can’t honestly justify the idea that a loving God could punish people so desperate, so consumed by the darkness… for caving under the pressure. I pray they find peace, love, protection… and strength. I prayed for you today, Amanda. I heard the news at lunch, though my parents were afraid to say the words in front of me, my own past being so fresh behind me. I had a moment alone to go to PetSmart for rabbit food, and I prayed as I walked into the store. I almost felt as if I was floating, and I could almost feel your presence there. I understand the loneliness. I understand being overwhelmed. I’m one of the few who can comprehend a moment of crisis, when you are certain you have no other options. I don’t know why I’m here, and you aren’t. I am torn between feeling blessed and feeling guilty. I’m also left with a nagging fear that I could still lose the battle one day too. I pray you are lifted gently to God without judgment or bitterness. Most people don’t understand the desperation, mainly because they’ve never felt it. I wish they could understand it without having to feel it. I know a lot of people make promises to themselves, though, a promise that they would never do such a thing, but who is to say where life will take us? How can any of us rest assured in what our future holds? I wish I could stop it. I wish, for everyone out there at this moment with a gun in their hand, a bottle of pills, a razorblade, on a bridge, or with something wrapped around their necks… I wish it would stop. And for their sakes, as for my own, I wish it would stay stopped. The truth is, it ebbs and flows, and we never know when the current may take us under, even when our feet seem planted, and steady. I wish, when people heard of suicide, they didn’t place judgment. I wish it allowed them an opportunity to stop and consider with gratitude, how blessed it is to live a life so distant from dismay that you can’t even comprehend such actions. My heart goes out to you, that you are safe now, wherever you are… I pray you are finding respite. My heart goes out to your family, friends, and students; that your life and their loss fills them with gratitude and allows them to realize the responsibility of support that is placed upon the stable who dwell amongst the troubled. I know I never said hello, but I hope my prayers find you now, and you are warmed by my understanding and reassured by the numbers of hearts going out to you and yours tonight.
If you, or someone you know is struggling with mental illness & contemplating suicide, there are options:
If you NEED HELP NOW… Call the NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
If you are a survivor or have survived an attempt, you can find resources from NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness).
To take a stand against the stigma associated with mental illness, you can find out more from BRING CHANGE 2 MIND.
You can find out about suicide prevention from the AMERICAN FOUNDATION FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION.
Please don’t wait until suicide affects you personally, find out how you can help. The AFSP does a walk to raise funds for suicide prevention research called: OUT OF THE DARKNESS. It is an 18 mile walk that ends at sunrise. In 2012, the walk will be in San Francisco. Sign up, raise money, train, and do something to not only save lives, but improve them as well. I’m hoping to start a team, and do the walk in 2012.
Please feel free to leave a comment.
Share your story.
Do what you can to start the conversation, and take the first steps on the road toward healing.
(this video was made to raise funds for the overnight walk that happened in NYC this past June)