When you have walked in suicide’s dark shadow, have felt it there, over your shoulder, stalking someone you love, you will learn things you wish you never knew. Or at least never had to know. Maybe knowing “just in case” isn’t so bad, but knowing because you have to is awful.
Knowing that even “happy” people end their lives. That people can be happy, until they aren’t. And you may not see the switch.
Knowing that medication and therapy are great tools, but their powers are different in every case.
Knowing that someone you love, someone who loves you, can choose to leave because in that moment they cannot find a way to continue.
Knowing that you are powerless to stop it if it comes to that, but that you will try everything in your power and some things you thought were beyond your abilities.
Knowing that even if they are still here, you will never be “past” it. It will a part of your life, a part of you, forever.
We like to think that success, fame and money are like a talisman, providing a wall of protection behind which only good things can ever happen. But that has nothing to do with it. Neither does not wanting to “do that to your kids.” And it’s got nothing to do with being selfish.
It’s a level of desperation that most people, thank God, will never feel. But when you feel it, when you are stuck there, in the awful place, you can only see the one way out. Your mind lies to you and you cannot tell the difference. People in that spot may not really wish to die, but rather to just stop the feelings.
Having battled side by side with someone who was desperately suicidal gives you a perspective that is impossible for anyone who hasn’t been there to understand. And even at that, we who have fought alongside those who struggle can never truly understand what those moments and feelings are like for them. What makes some of them stay and some of them go? There is no one answer. Everyone battles their own demons. Not everyone wins.
So when Kate Spade took her life, it was heartbreaking. And then when Anthony Bourdain did the same thing, it was devastating. Why? It’s the feeling of a near miss. Of knowing that you could be walking that path, the path their families, their children, are walking right now. It’s the shadow that passes over the sun for just a moment, causing you to search desperately, knowing it is out there, maybe just out of sight, but not gone forever. It’s the reminder that while it isn’t you today, tomorrow is promised to no one.
So check on your people. The happy ones and the sad ones. The strong ones and the ones who are struggling. The ones who show up and the ones who don’t. Love them hard, let them know that the world needs them, that you need them. That if there ever is a moment, they need to just reach out…stretch their hand and we, the world that loves and values them, will reach back.
If you are having one of those moments, know that you are valued and loved, no matter what your disease is telling you right now. Hang on for this moment. Then let this moment become the next and just keep hanging on. Reach out. There are people ready to help you, hold you and love you. Make a phone call to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you can’t talk, chat online with them. Text them.
You matter. Please stay.