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When You've Witnessed the Aftermath of a Suicide

It’s been more than a month. That’s how long I’ve been silent. An incident occurred outside of my apartment one night, and I awoke to a bang. The rest of what transpired that night is too graphic to put into detail and too triggering for me to say.

What you need to know is at that moment I was scared, lost and without understanding of the situation. What you need to know is I didn’t know what was going to happen next. What you need to know is a life was lost by suicide that evening. What you don’t know is I was severely depressed throughout that time as my own suicidal thoughts pummelled my mind. It was to the point where my mind was numb and without reason. At that moment, I saw myself.

The next day was a blur all throughout, until I reached the ferry terminal in this port city. I would always go through it in the early hours of the morning on my way to school. John, the ticket master, was at his post. We started off with usual pleasantries.

For some reason, I still don’t know why, I told him what had occurred the night before. John, formerly in the armed forces, said he could relate. He talked to me, and at one point, without hesitation he got up and gave me a hug. I don’t think I’ve ever cried so hard in front of another man before.

This entire experience begs so many questions. Where do we go from here? Do I have the right to feel this way despite not knowing the person? Am I selfish for feeling this way? What do we do when we’ve been witness to the aftermath of a suicide?

In all honesty, I don’t know. I don’t think anyone does. What I do know though, is you can’t keep how you feel hidden. If you do, it’ll eat you alive. Maybe what I saw and experienced wasn’t as horrific as many others have witnessed, but it’s as John said when he was comforting me: “A life was lost that night, and for you to feel as much as you do doesn’t make you any less of a man.”

No. It just means, I’m human.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.
If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255