A member of my roommate’s family committed suicide on Sunday night. And honestly…my beautiful, caring, soulful, goofy roommate is broken now. She looks dizzy and lost and completely baffled, and she isn’t even his mother, or his father, or his big brother. I can’t imagine what they look like.
This post is mainly to show what happens after someone we love commits suicide, either for those who are thinking about it or for those who see the signs in someone else. Because it hurts. It hurts everyone. Like absolute hell. It hurts even people who didn’t know he existed before he committed this violent act of self-harm. It hurts people he never imagined being affected by him or his actions. My past (to be explained later in this post) makes stuff like this pretty damn tough. And that’s nothing compared to the pain his family feels.
I know he can’t see that. Or couldn’t. I really do get that. I’ve been suicidal. I didn’t care about my parents’ feelings about my life and I didn’t even think about anyone else. The main reason I didn’t do anything was because I knew it would be incredibly selfish, and I didn’t want to hate myself any more than I already did. He was so tied up with his own personal hell that it would never have been possible.
Because he couldn’t think about them, I’ll think about those other people for him. I’ll think about his parents, his big brother, his aunts and uncles and grandparents. I’ll think about his classmates and his teachers and his best friend from second grade. The minister who will perform his funeral rites. His parents’ work friends. People he’s never met and never known…like me.
I know his brother blames himself. I heard my roommate on the phone with him. She was trying so hard not to cry, trying so hard to stay strong for a guy who absolutely needs someone he trusts and loves to tell him that he did nothing wrong. Will he ever believe that it isn’t his fault? After all, we’re supposed to know our families inside and out and backwards, even when they lock their emotions away and put on a perfect act. Right? How could anyone miss the signs, however small they might have been? How could we dare to be selfish when someone we care about so incredibly much has this evil beast locked inside, when they’re locked in a battle of life and death? How could we possibly miss that?
To be honest…I wouldn’t be able to get rid of that guilt. I would live the rest of my life knowing that I could have done something (anything) more and I hadn’t done it. Even if he’d resented my attempt at rescue forever, at least he’d be alive. And that’s always better than being dead. Right? I pray and pray that he accepts that it wasn’t his fault, that it couldn’t have been his fault, that he lets go of that guilt and he’s able to live his life without such a painful burden.
I’ve known people who have attempted suicide. I’ve seen people attempt suicide. I’ve seen people attempt suicide and tell me it’s my fault they want to do it. So…I know the guilt. I know the pain of betraying their trust and calling an ambulance, or parents, or whoever. I get it. And I now know it’s not my fault…but when I was 19, and again when I was 20, I was terrified of myself. Who’d have known that I could be so evil?
I carried that guilt for a couple of years. I carried the knowledge that two people had wanted to die because I had made their lives total hell. On the surface, I’d tell people that I knew it wasn’t my fault, and I’d even tell myself that. Somewhere down there though, I felt like I was evil. It wasn’t until I told a therapist these stories that the guilt started to lift. She asked me to look her in the eye, and she told me that it was not my fault. She told me that I am not responsible for anyone else’s emotions. She told me that there were major issues in these peoples’ lives way before I came along. I don’t know how many times she repeated those things, but she only stopped when I finally swallowed, hesitated, then nodded my acceptance of her words. I walked out of that room about 50 pounds lighter, and at least a year younger.
The point of all of this babble is to make anyone understand how widespread the effects of one death can be. My roommate’s family member brought up all of this pain again for me, and additional pain for him, his battles, and now his family and friends’ struggle to cope. I never knew the guy. I still don’t know his name. I did not know he existed until he committed suicide. And all of the above…that’s just my hurt. There are so many other people in this world who are hurting so much more than I am over this boy.
So think about all of that. Think about all of that when you see signs of a dragon, when you feel your own prepare for a fatal blow. Do something about it. Do anything about it. Ignoring it, or indulging it, only causes pain.