People keep saying to “tell the people that you love them” when we hear someone has committed suicide.
That feels – to me – like saying “thoughts and prayers” after school shootings.
Having traveled through “the valley of the shadow of death” two times in my life where I entertained not living*, I knew that people loved me. That was a given. The problem was, the place I was in was so dark, so cold, so sunken that the concept of love (and the healing it brings) seemed light years away.
Each time, I slipped away gradually. It was a slow flowing, day by day over time. It was literally happening inside of me while I was still in school, getting good grades, crushing on boys, listening to music, learning how to drive or taking care of my brand new baby, going on vacation, getting promoted at work.
It was just a thick, heavy, unshakable shadow that kept stretching out behind me, so slowly that I’m not sure the people around me understood how powerful the force had become.
The loss of Robin Williams still leaves me at a loss for words because I identify with him the most. As we hear the news of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, my mind’s eye still turns back to him.
I can remember being able to make people laugh until tears came out of their eyes, but still getting into bed that night and being okay with the thought of never waking up.
And knowing people loved me added to my loneliness. See, they kept saying the loved me when they could not even see me. They were looking right at me and still I was invisible.
Look, I don’t know what we can do to keep our loved ones out of the grasp of suicide. I don’t know what makes the thought become action. I do know I am fortunate (VERY, VERY FORTUNATE) that something down within me ultimately wanted to live more than I didn’t.
But it has to be more than “I love you.” It has to be more “I see you and I don’t know what to do to reach you, but I will stick with you until you win.” It needs to be more, “I have an idea (or I have no idea) what it feels like to be in such a dark place, but I’m willing to listen so you can help me understand.”
By no means do I have the answers but I know words don’t reach that dark and dismal place. But perhaps our actions can…
I do not have answers, but I do have hope.
(*I use the term “not living” because the desire was never to die. The thought was “I don’t want to be here.” We look at suicide with non-depressive minds and assume the person wants to die. That’s not my experience or what I’ve heard. My experience is that your mind wants it all to STOP. Not die. STOP. And the words “suicide” and “killing myself” were never in my mind. It came to me as “end it” or “make it stop” or “stop myself from hurting.”)
Denitra Letrice; TFTBN