Preventing the Darkness: World Suicide Prevention Day 2013

I am a left-behind.  
I have been a left-behind since August of 2001.
I have been affected by suicide.

Today, I want to take a moment and talk about suicide prevention.  Not only to educate, but to possibly save a life.


It took me many years to come to terms with my friends death.  I spent the majority of those years blaming myself until I could finally see the bigger picture.

The hardest part of losing someone to suicide is that you will never know who they were meant to be.  As a left-behind, you spend the remainder of your life wondering what they would have done for a living, would they have been a parent, would they have gotten married?  It is damning, to an extent.  While I don't spend the majority of my days thinking about it; at least two days a year those thoughts enter my brain.  I have come to terms with her death, but I will never come to terms with the thought that she could have done something great with her life.

I have been through the stages of grief.  Some took longer than others to get through, but I made it.  It took me eight years.  It took me 2,920 days to be okay enough to continue my life as a left-behind.

Some left-behind's never recover.  They are forever damaged and haunted.  Some left-behind's even become another statistic.  I wanted to several times through those eight years, but I never did.  Something always stopped me.  Something, loud and clear, always came to me at those most desperate moments, shouting, "No!"  And so I remained in the living world, as a left-behind, and I made my way through to the other side.

Once I made it through the other side, I vowed to be more involved in the prevention of suicide.  I believe one of the best things a left-behind can do is to be active in the education and prevention of suicide.   This is the one thing that I can do for my friend who is no longer here to speak for herself.  This is part of my life.  I will do it until I cannot any longer.

Here are some warning signs to watch for:  

My friend had a few of these.  At one point, in the weeks before her death, I remember having the fleeting thought that she may be suicidal.  I dismissed the thought and continued to reassure her that she was loved and cared for and we needed her around.

The thing about suicide is that once someone has made up their mind that they are going to do it, there is no turning back.  They will attempt it and they will either succeed or fail at that attempt.  No matter how many words I said to her, no matter how many hugs I gave her, once she made up her mind, that was that.

She made up her mind without anyone around.  There was no control over that.  She didn't phone anyone in the hours before.  There was no control over that either.  She made the choice and that was that.

And on a Sunday afternoon, a beautiful late summer day, it was over.

Suicide is more than someone wanting to end their life.  It's about wanting the pain from whatever they are suffering from to stop.  They just want the pain to stop.  A person can only travel with so much pain for so long before it becomes too much.  Some people seek help, other's decide to end it all.  It doesn't make them a horrible person if they choose to end it all.  Yes, those of us that have been left behind get angry, but staying angry is just as damning.  I learned that a long time ago too.

So, please, if you or someone you know is showing any of the traits above, please reach out to this  person or seek help.  Please do not think that ending your life is the answer.  Your life can get better.  If you snuff it out, you will never know, and never knowing is the most damning thing of all.

If you are in emotional distress or thinking about suicide, please know that help is available.
For confidential crisis counseling, you can always contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and

"To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire, and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery." -from the TWLOHA website  

Please reach out today to someone you feel is in need.  Call them up, offer them a kind word, get together for coffee, etc.  Show people you care before it's too late.  You don't know what hides behind the mask they put on every day.  You don't know at all unless you talk to them.

You never know when you are saving a life. 


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