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When a Friend's Suicide Hits Close to Home

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Editor's Note

If you experience suicidal thoughts, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741741.

I have to tell you something. I need you to hear me, even though it’s the last thing in the world I want to talk about. After it happened, my questions had no answers, or I was told the same old story:

“It wasn’t your fault.”

“It was her decision.”

“Nothing could have stopped her.”

And it’s that last part that we really need to talk about.

Grieving is unique for each person, and I was no stranger to it. However, when she died by suicide, I grieved in such an ugly and unusual way that I still have nightmares of finding her body. I tried to “get through it” as I had before. Distractions, time, talking. It was a stubborn wound that didn’t want to heal.

Looking back, it’s easy to see her warning signs. She isolated herself, spoke and messaged in cryptic riddles, and wasn’t able or didn’t want to vocalize what was going on in her head. I remember faces and movements, which when replayed with context, told a different story I wasn’t able to read then.

I lost time after she died. Months of my life are gone. I remember leaving her winter funeral, and suddenly it was summer. I forgot her when my memory came back. For six months she didn’t enter my mind even once, though her ghost came back with a vengeance.

When the memory of her returned, it brought guilt along with it. My mind repeated a familiar song of self blame, accusing myself of not seeing her pain or of even worse, ignoring it. I wasn’t mentally healthy enough to prove myself innocent.

So I walked around, taking the blame for the suicide of someone else. Years later, I can confidently say I wasn’t responsible. This might be obvious to everyone else, but for me it was a struggle to believe. However, there’s still a nagging doubt.

She and I were so similar. Not in pasts or in interests, but in world views and emotions. We cried at the same movies and got angry at the same problems. We bonded over a shared sadness and warmth, and we could give each other those knowing looks when another person said something foolish. We had a comfort level that is rare to find with another person.

Five years later, I attempted suicide. The only difference between her and I is how quickly we were found.

“Nothing could have stopped her.” I have to tell you something. That isn’t good enough anymore. Because if nothing could have stopped her, does that mean nothing will stop me? I can’t live my life believing some people are just too broken to help.

Five years and a few months later, I realize why the hole in my heart where her name used to be could never really heal. The lie she was too broken to save was something some people told themselves, and it never sat right with me. The truth I’d ignored is that the line separating her and I is too thin.

To be perfectly honest, suicide is not my favorite topic. For someone who talks as much about mental health as I do, suicide has always been the one closed door in my mind. Just a bit too personal and a bit too painful. It’s time though. Dismissing the suicidal as broken beyond repair is no longer an answer I can accept. And now, more than ever, I need to know how to save her.

Follow this journey on Broke Bi Borderline Boy

Getty image by unomat

Originally published: October 18, 2019
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