I remember the first time I heard the word “suicide”. Seemingly said in a hush tone as though it were a dirty word. I was standing along the red brick wall in my second grade classroom awaiting dismissal. Whispers of his name echoed in the hallway as teachers gathered around. “Did you hear what happened?” Discreetly they shared details of what they knew as to protect our naive, developing minds from this secret. They kept referring to it as an “accident”. As if someone as young as we were couldn’t struggle with emotions and have no alternative to expressing them. But it was far from a secret in my life. My sister’s best friend ended his life & just like that he was gone.
Although he was five years older than I was, the pain was very present in our lives. My sister was hurting as she tried to piece the memories together to see if she could have helped. At that age I didn’t understand the complexity of suicide until I struggled with the decision in my adolescence. I let the emotions become so overwhelming until it was too exhausting to hide anymore. I became “that girl” who covered up the pain with long sleeves and silence. I realize now that holding it in never did me any good. It only made the pain more severe.
As much as I am transparent in sharing my experiences, I know there are some depths of me I still keep hidden. Everyday, through the work I do as a counselor, I witness many people lose hope and give into the pain. It only inspires me to work harder in raising awareness about mental health issues, including suicide. Don’t be afraid to ask someone if they are thinking of suicide. You could be the one to save their life.
These are real life struggles that real people encounter. These aren’t issues that are meant to be concealed and kept secret. Please if you are hurting, reach out and ask for help. If you know someone who is struggling, please help them find the right resources to get the help they need. You don’t have to struggle alone.
I know now that my story isn’t over & yours isn’t either. Please don’t give up.
Keep fighting. Love yourself & one another.
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