…as I mentioned, suicide is a very personal subject for me, and has touched, entered and affected my life in more ways than I can or care to count. So this subjected post had to become a two-parter.
When I read my friend’s message that Ru had taken his life, I was a stunned – I was surprised to see a message at all from her really, we aren’t that close, especially since I moved to Florida. And for the news to be about him. And for it to be that kind of news.
Let’s take roll the tape back twenty or so years. And start my story where it really begins. It was 1998, in the late summer after I graduated high school, that my own mother died by taking her own life. That whole time period surrounding her death is a blur, I remember few specific details – I’m positive that’s my brain protecting itself from the trauma of it all. I have a specific memory of standing in the outer hallway of the funeral home, next to the sign in book, but all the other memories of the funeral are vague and slight. I specifically remember riding up to the burial site, behind the car my Grandmother was in, watching her golden hair swing as the car turned through the curvy back roads. And seemingly most painful of the reality bites moments at the time, I remember my two high school best friends, sitting on my bed, telling me, quite emotionlessly that they were sorry but there was nothing they could do for me because they were about to leave for college [in state, within 30 miles away, mind you], and goodbye.
Obviously my mother’s suicide is a trauma in my life that has changed the way I am and who I am. I always say goodbye. I always say I love you. I’m sensitive, shy, keep many things and emotions to myself. Everything we experience in life changes us in some way, minuscule or gigantic.
Shortly thereafter my mother’s suicide, in the winter of 1999, a best friend and someone who I also dated, Marc, jumped off the Bay Bridge. We volunteered at the Maryland City firehouse together in Anne Arundel County. That same jurisdiction had men searching the cold Chesapeake Bay waters for his body for days and never found him. This time too, seems to be a blur, but I do remember walking into the Memorial Services, in this huge church, and it was packed with firemen, dressed in their blues, it was hundreds of people.I was heartbroken, I lost another best friend. Different terms, but again, how could I not see? I was a mere 19 this time, still naive as could be, especially because between my mother’s death and Marc’s death, I pretended like everything was ok, that nothing bothered me, that life was good. Maybe this was part of being naive, maybe this was a strange part of grieving. But I definitely still didn’t understand how complex suicidal behavior and mental health issues were. I had always thought Marc was depressed, but looking back now and understanding so much more, I think he had a personality disorder, probably one of the Cluster B disorders.
And lastly, because of many traumas, struggles, and my own depression, I too have attempted suicide. So I personally understand the hopelessness my lost loved ones felt in those last moments. In a way that makes a little easier, but in reality, it makes losing so many to suicide so much worse and more painful.
I share my story because I want others to know that if you feel depressed, if you’re struggling, you’re not alone. And it’s ok to reach out for help. PLEASE reach out for help. Call a friend. Call a family member. If you can’t any of them, call 911, they will help you. I have also listed some resources below that are helpful if you are in need. But please, don’t give up. It’s always darkest just before sunrise.
National Suicidal Prevention Hotline – The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a United States-based suicide prevention network of 161 crisis centers that provides a 24/7, toll-free hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention – The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is a voluntary health organization established in 1987. It funds research, runs educational programs, advocates for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention, and supports survivors of suicide loss.