Body, Relationships, Society — September 11, 2013 at 3:57 pm

The Other Side of Suicide

by

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via Katrina W.

In recognition of Suicide Prevention Week I’m sharing my story with the hopes that you might share it, so that it has the chance of helping more people. I know it isn’t bright and happy, and it isn’t the usual suicide survival story, but its mine.

When I was 16 years old, my best friend of 4 years committed suicide. He was schizophrenic, manic-depressive, and mentally unstable. He was on medications, going to therapy, and had many friends trying to support him.

We used to talk almost every single day, for hours, about everything and anything. He’d often tell me that he put the gun down today, after thoughts of me ran through his head. It happened every other week, I’m sure. I was 16 years old. Young and foolish. I wanted to keep my best friend alive at all cost, so I put the responsibility of his life on my own shoulders, doing everything I could to make him happy. I thought I could get through to him that things would get better.

Well, he came to visit me, all the way from Iowa, and for the first time ever, we met and talked face to face. I had just been through a rough breakup, and again, I was young and so very, very stupid. I’d known for some time that he had feelings for me, but I just didn’t feel the same. He knew that. Well in the time that he was visiting, I was getting involved with a pretty bad character, and he was worried about me.

Long story short, he decided to take his opportunity face to face to convince me to be with him, and I reacted very, very, poorly. I sent him home, all the way to Iowa, and wouldn’t talk to him, wouldn’t answer his calls or emails, until he said he would wait for me to be ready to talk, and stopped trying.

Please understand, I wasn’t truly angry, but I was hurting and so afraid to admit that he was right.

The next time I heard from Iowa was weeks later, the call from another friend of his. He had the news that made my heart stop. I didn’t believe him at first. I held on to the sliver of hope that it was a horrible prank to get back at me; until I was allowed to be on speakerphone for the funeral.

I’ve battled with the effects of his suicide for years, even to this day. I blamed myself for years, and in my darker times, I still beat myself up, thinking of everything I could and should have done. I’ve cycled between hating him for hurting me and causing so much pain, and begging God to give me a sign that he was better now. I formed an extreme anxiety around guns, and I still have to shield my eyes and ears when I think someone is going to get shot or shoot themselves in the head in movies or TV. At first, if someone around me began to have suicidal thoughts, especially if they came to me for comfort or for a convincing that it was worth it, I took it upon myself to do everything I could, for fear of failing someone else. As time went on, I ended up cutting myself away from people like that, so that I wouldn’t feel so responsible. I know now how to handle these things better, and I’m slowly healing from the experience, but it completely changed my life, and it will forever be a scar that I have to live with.

I know now that there was nothing I could do. I was a silly 16 year old girl with her own demons and her own issues who didn’t know how to handle the situation she was in. It doesn’t change how it did and does effect me, though.
His suicide didn’t make his life better. None of us were better off without him. I’m sure that at the time, he felt hopeless and lonely and miserable, but here we are, 5 years later, he’s gone, and we’re still here with gaping holes in our hearts where he belongs, trying to hold ourselves together from the loss of this brilliant, creative, insightful, kind, and all around amazing friend. How is this better? How does this end suffering?

I still battle myself with questions or what ifs regarding his suicide, but one thing is clear. It is dealing with his suicide that makes me determined to make it through my bad times, to find my bright times, and to help others do the same.
I wish I could bring this to some fulfilling and gratifying conclusion, but the truth is that there isn’t one. There is no happy ending with suicide. Yes, we’ve come a long way in dealing with what happened, but there is still a long way to go. Even as I write this, I battle myself over it. Am I being selfish? What if I’m wrong? It was a tragedy that tore our lives into another direction, and left us with pain to carry forever. But I don’t hate him all the time, I cared for him too much for that.

We’ve just got to find a way to live with it as best we can, because there will never be answers.

We still miss you, John.

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