Tuesday was World Suicide Prevention Day. All this week, I’ve thought about him. How his life mattered to me. How his death forever changed me. I kept his memory close this week not sure I could find the words to say that I hadn’t said already.
And then I talked to my mom this morning and she asked had I seen? Did I know?
No, I hadn’t seen. I didn’t know. I’d gotten out of bed and begun the morning routine of drinking coffee and packing lunch and dressing children. I’d taken extra time to brush Joshua’s hair for picture day.
When I got home, I looked and I found a status update from my best friend expressing her grief at having lost one of her dear friends. I sent her a message expressing my sorrow for her loss and that’s when I found out how he died.
I asked her to tell me about him because sometimes talking about those we miss is the greatest source of comfort we have. Remembering them. Freezing the person they were in our heads so that we don’t forget should anger take hold. And only a month ago she’d done the same for me by listening.
Her friend was only 31 years old.
He was outspoken and funny. The kind of guy who could make you laugh until you cried with the fantastic and outlandish stories he told. He was a world-traveler with a passion for helping others spending time in Europe, China, and the Middle East as a nurse and consultant.
He believed in reserving judgment. He was a great listener.
He was a friend.
But he was also depressed. It seems more deeply than anyone knew. And despite therapy and medication and promises to meet soon for lunch, he’s still gone.
So here is my friend in the same place I was in just a few years ago. Stunned by a loss that no one imagined, one impossible to see coming. His loved ones are left to wonder if there’s something they should’ve seen or said or done differently to change his outcome.
I didn’t know him, but his life mattered. His life still matters.
Suicide is heartbreaking in so many different ways. It’s devastating to know that someone was hurting enough to see it as a way to stop hurting. Those of us in its wake hurt as we pick up the pieces.
Know the risk factors and warning signs for suicide. Talk to those you love if you’re afraid their contemplating taking their own life. Let them know they aren’t alone.
Reach out to those you love who may be hurting. Reach out if you are hurting. There is hope.
My heart and love is with you, G. May his memory be eternal.