Silence isn’t Golden: A Public Service Announcement about Suicide from A Friend “Left Behind”

This post is very difficult to write.  In fact, I’m not sure that I should even be posting it.  Unfortunately, the message behind it is one that is too important and must be shared.

I have struggled with depression in my lifetime.  My life has been a series of roller coaster rides.  I’ve had depression that lasted for months on end, but things always managed to get better and I moved on.  This month, however, has been a particularly difficult one for me.  I lost two friends to suicide in a matter of just a few weeks.

She was helping me to improve my quality of life.

I found out about the first death on Facebook in the week following Thanksgiving after she hadn’t returned any of my calls or texts.  She was more than just a friend to me; she was also my neighbor and personal trainer. She was helping me to improve my quality of life.  So when I tried to find out why she wasn’t returning my calls and texts and missed our appointment, I completely fell apart.

The next few weeks were not easy.  I met with my health professionals and was only starting to heal when I got a call earlier this week at about 2:30 in the morning: another friend had passed away.

Suicide isn’t an easy topic to me to discuss.  This may be because it has never affected me personally before.  I knew it existed.  I knew people who knew people who had done it.  I even had a neighbor in my previous residence who had done it, but I have never been the one who was “left behind” before.  Now that it has and now that I am, I feel the need to share my experience and reach out to others.

Suicide, or the act of intentionally taking one’s own life, is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.  The symptoms my friends displayed included difficulty with interpersonal relationships, unbearable physical pain, and withdrawing from family and friends.  Unfortunately, these are also symptoms of other difficulties, so it would have been difficult to know what they were thinking.  In hindsight, all of the signs were there, all over the first friend’s Facebook page.  The goodbyes, the unbearable pain; it was all there, and I can’t help but think that had I seen it sooner, I would have run over to her place and stopped her.

leading_causes_of_death_age_group_2015_1050w740h

One of my best friends often tells me that she frequently calls a suicide prevention hotline.  She has been calling this particular number for years.  She is not suicidal and has told me that she would never even consider it for herself, but she calls the number when she needs someone to talk to.  Sometimes we all just need an unbiased ear to vent to; someone who is not our mother, doctor or friend to unload on who will listen and advise without taking a side.

I am ending this post, since I am at a loss for words. I wish that there was something I could have done, but I know that their deaths are not my fault.  Now I can only hope for comfort and strength for the families who are affected by their losses.  I can educate, advocate and help others in the future.

 

If You Know Someone in Crisis
“Call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (NSPL) at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to everyone. The deaf and hard of hearing can contact the Lifeline via TTY at 1-800-799-4889. All calls are confidential. Contact social media outlets directly if you are concerned about a friend’s social media updates or dial 911 in an emergency.  Learn more on the NSPL’s website.” The National Institute of Mental Health

References

MedlinePlus (December, 2017). Suicide. Retrieved December 22, 2017 from https://medlineplus.gov/suicide.html

CDC/National Center for Health Statistics (March, 2017). Leading Causes of Death. Retrieved December 22, 2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm

The National Institute of Mental Health (March 2017). Suicide Prevention. Retrieved December 22, 2017 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/suicide-prevention/index.shtml

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (May, 2017). 10 Leading Causes of Death by Age Group, United States – 2015. Retrieved December 22, 2017 from https://www.cdc.gov/injury/wisqars/pdf/leading_causes_of_death_by_age_group_2015-a.pdf

Further Reading and Resources

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

1-800-273-8255

Veterans Crisis Line:

https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

1-800-273-8255

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