WARNING! Some of this post might be too upsetting, painful or offensive to some people. It’s about suicide. Not stats, but my story, at least part of it. There is also a small spoiler of 13 Reasons Why…consider yourself warned.
I know that this may be too hard, offensive or downright emotional for some people but this is what I am blogging about today, suicide. The painful, heart wrenching reality of it…at least my reality of it. That is not to say that everyone will see this topic as I do and that is ok. My experiences (yes, I have had more than 1 experience with suicide) is going to be different then others. In fact, I may have a unique perspective since I actually have been on both sides of the situation, so to speak.
The first experience I had with suicide is my own personal brush with attempted suicide. I was about 16, maybe 17 when I decided I couldn’t take life anymore. Which sounds weird to me now, since I had a good life as a kid. But you can’t only look at stuff like how well someone was cared for or if there was personal tragedy like abuse, nope, you have to look at other factors, like mental health. You see, depending on what expert you listen to, or what article you read, there is a percentage of suicides or attempted suicides that are connected to people with mental health issues. Now before you get upset, noticed I said a percentage, not all. There is always varying factors in something so desperate and crushing as someone deciding to take their on life. You don’t just wake up one day and decide, “hey, I think it’s a good day to leave this planet, permanently.” Well, at least I didn’t. There is a long build up of stuff, that when not properly handled, leads to an extremely huge amount of pain and helplessness which comes with such a terrible and difficult decision. I don’t think I will go in to details of my personal story just yet, maybe another time. But the short story is I didn’t do it, obviously, and I attribute that choice of not taking my own life to 2 things – God and my mom. (no offense Dad or anyone else). I will say that this is the first time I genuinely heard God’s voice speak to me. Again, I will go in to details of this whole unpleasant and MAJOR event in my life another time. Yes, I did hear God speak to me, (not an actual voice and I am not a loon) and no, I wasn’t a Christian at the time. I didn’t actually come to know Jesus until many, many years later. (That’s also another blog post….lol)
The Horrible and Long Aftermath…
The second event in my life that involved suicide, and the one I really want to dive into here, is the moment I found out one of my closest friends committed suicide. I knew he was suicidal because we had spent hours and hours and hours talking about suicide; how to do it so we would be more effective and not mess it up, when was a good time, if we would leave a note, would the note explain why or what lead us to such a decision, would anyone actually miss us and more. Yes, these conversations happened. I remember some parts as if they were like yesterday, they weren’t. My best buddy (at the time) died November 24, 1982, Thanksgiving Day to be exact, on the operating table as the medical team was trying to save his life. A life worth saving for sure. My phone rang just after 10 p.m. and my boyfriend answered it. That was it, I KNEW WHAT HAD HAPPENED without him even telling me, before he even hung up! I just somehow knew! I went weak at the knees and almost fell. All I could think of was, “Sh!t! He did it! He really ____ing did it!” (sorry). It took several days for reality to set in and honestly, I don’t remember much of anything until my friends Rosary and funeral. I remember going up to his casket at his Rosary and getting really ticked off at the way “they” did his hair. Under my breath and a ton of tears I said, “George would be pissed if he saw what they did to his hair! He NEVER wore his hair parted like THAT! It doesn’t look anything like him!” Sounds stupid, I know, but my buddy was particular about his hair, and I loved my friend.
After the allotted time for autopsy (which I couldn’t think about what they were doing to my friend) and arranging for a funeral that honestly, nobody wanted to be going to, (not like anybody ever wants a funeral but suicide, well it really sucks, just saying) the day and time came for us to bury a beloved friend, brother, son, nephew and what ever else George was to people around him. Yellow was his favorite color and George’s mom asked everyone to wear that color in honor of him and that he was finally at peace now. You see, his parents weren’t unaware of their son’s problems. To what extend they knew of them, I don’t know. I know they made my buddy go to counseling, until he turned 18, at which time he refused to continue. They tried, but couldn’t get him to go anymore. I and several other friends told him to continue with counseling. He didn’t. The scene of George’s mother crying uncontrollably at his graveside is an image that is burned into my brain forever. An image I decided that I did not want my family and loved ones to replay for me.
7 years. It took 7 years for me to not hate Thanksgiving and stop disliking Halloween and Christmas (the big 3!) Every year after 1982, I relived that moment we got the call and all the ugly events after. That is not to say that I didn’t cry and talk to George or visit his grave more often then Thanksgiving or the holidays. I did. Always going back to the same question, “Why did you do it George, why?” In the recent Netflix series 13 Reason’s Why, there is one show that hit home for me. The one where Clay Jensen finds out that he wasn’t one of the reason’s Hannah kills herself but that he is on the tapes for other reasons. His heartbreaking moment when he is ready to go over the edge, literally and is asking questions of himself through his tears is so very, very real to me. Questions like, “Why didn’t I stay? Why didn’t I keep asking what’s wrong? Why didn’t I see?” etc, etc. These, and many more questions are what people who are left behind ask daily, sometimes several times a day. What could we have done to prevent this? Could I have done more? Was I pushy enough? Why, why, why?
The truth is, we will never ever know the answers to these questions. And so we are left here, behind, with the aftermath of someone we loved, making a terrible, terrible decision to take their own life. I am not here to say it’s weak, brave, wrong or right. What I do know is this, IT IS NOT THE ANSWER and IT’S NOT THE ONLY WAY OUT! THERE IS ALWAYS OTHER OPTIONS!!!!
Here are just a couple resources for you or anyone that might be in crisis. I couldn’t end this post without providing at least some ways to get help. I know there is a lot more. One last note…if you know someone who seems to show the signs of possible suicide, don’t shy away from them, no matter what. Keep asking, keep pushing (though gently) if they need help. Better yet, give them the info below. Yeah, they may get ticked at you (but probably not)…but better ticked then the alternative! If you yourself are in need of some crisis help, check out the connections below. Get help…YOUR LIFE ISN’T OVER YET! There is so, so much more for you, and it is wonderful!!!!!!
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line – Text HOME 471471 (here is a video on how it works)
Till Next Time,
Rebecca & The Gang
Finding Our New Normal