On Tuesday, my friend John posted a message on Facebook about it being the 22nd--and that the 22nd of each month is a day that was chosen to think of veterans that have died by suicide. The number 22 is significant because that is the number of veterans who die each day by taking their own lives. The 22nd is considered a "buddy check" day for veterans; and John, being a veteran himself who has been affected from friends' suicides, posts frequently about it.
I bring this up because on this past Tuesday (the 22nd), one of Jerry's good friends chose to end his life.
I never imagined that this would affect me as much as it has over the past two days. I cannot stop thinking about it. I'm just so very sad about the whole situation. And I feel absolutely terrible for Jerry, who is taking it very hard.
Bill (not his real name) didn't show up for work on Tuesday morning, which was very unlike him, and his family started looking for him. On Tuesday afternoon, they learned that he took his own life.
When Jerry first got the news, all he was told was that Bill had died. He was upset enough about that, but then when he learned it was suicide, he was just so shocked and horrified. He said Bill never showed signs of depression or any sort of mental illness. He immediately started to play the "what if" game in his head, wondering if there was something he could have changed or done to prevent this.
After having Bill's death on my mind for two days, I decided I wanted to write about it in the hopes that I can do my part in letting each of you reading this post know that you matter. Really, you do! Anybody that you interact with--whether it's daily or just in passing--is impacted in some way by your life. I had never even met Bill (I just heard stories about him from Jerry), but I have actually cried and mourned over his death. It has changed my husband, which will then affect myself and my kids. Someone I had never met has made a big impact on me in his death.
I have been very open about the fact that I battle depression, and I have since I was about 13 years old. There have been several times over the years that I have been in a very dark place, and it felt like I would NEVER get out of it. That feeling of being completely hopeless is one of the worst feelings I've ever experienced. I basically had to turn myself on autopilot to make it through those times.
And you know what? Each and every time I've felt that way, it eventually got better. Those dark moments don't last forever, even though they feel like they will. I say this because if you're going through something like that, now or in the future, just keep reminding yourself that IT WILL GET BETTER. One day, you won't feel like that any more, and you'll be so glad that you persevered through that very tough time.
There are people that care about you--I certainly do, and you matter to me!
I don't know if Bill had any idea how many people care about him, and it makes me so sad that he didn't reach out to someone (or maybe he did--but everyone has been very shocked by this, because he didn't show any signs of being suicidal).
When Jerry and I were talking about Bill's death, he couldn't comprehend the thought process that a suicidal person has. The best analogy I could come up with is this: It's like being at the top floor of a burning building. There is no way out (that you know of) and you are just sitting there, suffering, waiting for the building to collapse around you. You could choose to jump from the building, dying immediately and ending the suffering; or you could stay and suffer. That's how it may feel to someone who is suicidal--it feels like there is no way out, so the options are to suffer until death, or just die immediately. I believe that is how some people get to the point of choosing to end their lives. They are suffering, and don't see any way out. (Maybe that's a bad analogy, but it's the best I could come up with.) It's not that the person thinks, "I want to die"; I believe the thought is more like, "I don't want to suffer anymore."
I'd never been directly affected by a suicide before; and like I said, I didn't know Bill, but his death has now had a permanent effect on my life. I wish I could tell him that he mattered to so many people, more than he could possibly imagine; I wish I could tell him that no matter how bad he was feeling, it would have gotten better; I wish I could tell him that even if he didn't feel like it, he was valued. And his life was worth something.
Just because Bill didn't show any outward signs of suffering doesn't mean that he was okay. But Jerry didn't know that--he couldn't have! A lot of people are good at hiding it, and it leaves their family members wondering if there was something they missed. I am so sad for Bill's family, friends, and the loved ones of his friends (like me). His life mattered. I just wish he knew how much.
This post was kind of all over the place, but I want to end with the info for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:
Here is the website and the phone number is 1-800-273-TALK. The website says to call if you are in crisis, whether or not you are thinking of ending your life. It's confidential, and the crisis worker will listen, and then tell you about mental health services in your area. If you're in crisis, and feel like it will never end, it doesn't hurt to call and give it a try! You do matter, and you are valued, even if you don't believe it.