The FaceTime Call That Changed My Life
I’d heard about suicide here and there when I was growing up, but I’d never been or known someone affected by it. That all changed in February of 2017. I had switched from a private school for kids with disabilities to homeschooling after being severely verbally bullied. Among many other health issues, including being a twin preemie, I was diagnosed with hydrocephalus at birth.
Thursday February 2, 2017–I had just finished up my last subject with my grandmother (who was my teacher), when I got a text that made my heart skip a beat. It was from one of my oldest friends (who also attended said school) telling me that she was going to FaceTime me and that my grandmother should be on the phone. I didn’t think anything of it at the time (I figured she was home sick from school or something), but when I answered the call, she was sobbing. I mean, full-on, ugly sobbing.
In all the years we’d known each other, I think I’d seen her cry maybe once or twice. When she finally calmed down enough to speak, the four words that she managed to get out made my heart stop completely. ‘Steve Thompson committed suicide.’ I don’t remember much about that day, but I remember just sitting back in my chair and just staring blankly ahead, her words not registering at first. When they finally did, it was like running into a brick wall.
My grandmother asked me what was wrong, but I was crying too much to speak. When I finally calmed down, all it took was those four words for us to break down all over again. Despite him being two years younger than me (three years younger than my friend) I had known him since Grade 2. In the classes we shared, he was always smiling and laughing and happy.
To this day, I still don’t know if he was struggling with anxiety or depression or some other mental illness, but whenever I see his picture or hear his name, I have to bite back tears. A few years after his death, I created a website focused on suicide prevention. Maybe one day, it’ll turn into a non-profit. I’ve also participated in several suicide prevention runs.
The website is still running strong, with a blog centered on suicide prevention and other mental health issues related to suicide. More than anything, though, I wish that he’d felt comfortable to talk to someone about what he was facing. Maybe it could have helped. I’ll never know now.
If you know someone who is struggling with depression or anxiety or any other mental health issues, reach out to them. Your phone call/text might be the only thing keeping them off the ledge. Take it from me, someone who has struggled with anxiety for most of her life and did, at one point, consider ending it all.
You matter. You are loved. Whatever you’re going through, you don’t have to go through it alone. Your family, friends, significant others—all of them love you and would be absolutely devastated if anything happened to you. Don’t keep it bottled up. Talk to someone you trust.