Hindsight is a mean creature. Imagine the lives that could be saved, if we knew today what we will find out tomorrow. Suicide stole a friend of mine. As cliché as it sounds…suicide really did steal a piece of everyone who knew him that day.
I’m 20, and I’m sitting at a friend’s funeral. I didn’t think this was coming for another 50 years. Ten days earlier, we’d been chatting away, making plans to catch up. The next day, he took his life. He didn’t seem himself the weekend before he did it. I knew he wasn’t happy and we were worried. I asked him if he was going to “do something silly” but he said he “was fine,” so I assumed he was. I spoke to him the next day and he said he was great, and we organized to go to a football game the next week.
The following day, driving to work, I heard there was an “accident” nearby and someone had died, a suspected suicide. Something told me it was Dan, but common sense took over. Friends of mine don’t die, and they sure as hell don’t commit suicide. I sent him text messages from work, no reply. I figured he was just busy. No reason to freak out. I finished work, walked outside, and my mom was there. Odd. She’d been phoned, and had come to tell me and drive me home. “It was DAN.” Everything hit me. Anger, frustration, guilt and shock.
I didn’t know what was going on. I had to give a statement to the police, something that scared me. I thought people would think I was a terrible friend for not speaking out when I suspected he might do something like he did. I was mad at Dan for putting me in this situation. Why didn’t he speak out? I’d never faced anything like this, and for once, I didn’t know if I could handle things on my own. I had a million things going on in my head and I really needed to get it out. My parents didn’t know what to do as it was, and my friends were struggling as much as I was. I should point out that I’m not a big fan of deep and meaningful conversations (ie. I run as far away as possible as fast as I can at the sound of “we need to talk…”) but I knew I had to talk to someone. I started to talk to a friend. It was awkward talking about stuff I’d spent 20 years avoiding. I stuttered my way through the story and “how I was feeling” but it was such a relief to get it all out of my head. I told everyone else that things were fine, and hid my feelings behind laughter and a bubbly, “no worries” exterior. I was still struggling but things seemed so much easier with someone behind me who knew the story.
As with life, things changed, and I found myself falling back into old habits. I stopped talking about things. Things were piling up on me big time. It felt like a brick wall had fallen from the sky, blocking my way and I’d been given a toothpick to bury my way through. I’d never felt so overwhelmed. One day when things all seemed too much, I took a packet of prescription painkillers. Death scared me, but I’d had enough of the crap going on in my head. Death wouldn’t keep me up at night. It couldn’t get worse everyday. I just didn’t care what happened. It was up to the drugs now. I wasn’t crazy, I was just really sad.
Jump forward a couple of days. I’m sitting in a shrinks office. My worst nightmare sitting in front of me asking me “how I was feeling.” The consultation seemed to drag on and on. He was my dad’s age, and talked to me like I was ten. Needless to say, I wasn’t keen to head back to his nicely decorated office. Strongly encouraged by my GP and a few awesome friends, I went and saw another psych. He was young, relaxed and seemed pretty cool compared to the last guy. I walked out of the first consultation three months ago feeling positive, and have been going back since. Some days are still tough, but they’re not nearly as overwhelming. It was a tough lesson to learn, and in circumstances, I don’t wish on anyone, but I’ve learned that “reaching out” really is one of the most important lessons anyone can learn. If only Dan had learned the lesson.
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