The Mighty Logo

When Death By Suicide Leaves You Asking ‘Why?’

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

Things have been rough lately for me, my husband and several people we know. We have already experienced three suicides this year that have deeply effected us. One was the suicide of someone I met in 2001 who had struggled with depression and mental illness nearly all of his life. After his death, I was struck by one all-encompassing question: why?

It’s only been a few months, but I’m still asking that question. When I think about him, that question is at the forefront of my mind. It’s not just the regular kind of “why.” It’s the question of: why didn’t he reach out? Why didn’t he tell any of us? Why didn’t he ask for help? Why did this happen? Those questions are followed up by the question of what I could have done.

My husband, friends and I have all talked about it at length and decided we couldn’t have done anything. None of us knew because we saw what he wanted us to see. It doesn’t change the fact that he’s gone and we’re left with questions. We will not shame him for this. But we will be hurt and deeply saddened with the loss and grief that followed his death.

When Chris Cornell passed away, it was a very similar feeling for me. The “why” was present in the forefront of my mind. His lyrics stuck to me like glue — “She’s going to change the world, but she can’t change me.” Chris, like so many musicians, let us know who he was through his lyrics. Even people who weren’t particularly close to him could, I believe, see who he was — or at least who he wanted us to see.

Following Chester’s passing, I am now left to ask that same question. We might all be sitting here, shocked and grieving, blown away by how young and how sudden, asking, “Why?”

I can’t say that I’m alright. I think when someone dies by suicide, there are more questions than other types of deaths. Suicide affects you even if you don’t know the person directly. There are things that I know from experience about the effects of suicide from experience.

One of those things being: none of us, not a single one, will ever know the suffering, pain and choice that the victims of suicide had to endure or make. In those moments, we will never know the depth of their anguish. Even when there is a note, there will be questions. I will always be struck with grief when I hear of death by suicide. My grief is for the loss of life, the loss of love, the suffering that the victim endured and the brutal sadness of the realization that so many people couldn’t receive help. So many people just don’t know.

There are so many people in this world who are waiting.

We are waiting with open arms. We are here for you. We want to help. Even if we can’t help, there are people who can. There are trained professionals who offer help 24/7 around the world. We must ask ourselves if our friends and loved ones and even strangers know. Do they know that we’re there for them? Do they know about the resources available?

If they don’t, please let them know. Let people know that you are safe and you are a resource if you can be. I think we need to be more vocal about mental health, the stigmas attached to it, and talk more about what we can do to help those who are suffering. Even I suffer from depression. And had I not known about the resources available, I don’t know that I’d be here.

Chester Bennington was a part of me, just as so many others who I have lost to suicide. There have been so many. We’ve got to work harder to raise awareness. We’ve got to work harder to make ourselves available, to make ourselves open.

Please, if you know anyone who is in need of help and is suffering, share this with them. The numbers and addresses below are open resources, and the people associated with these organizations work to help save lives. I know that because I’m one of the lives they’ve saved.

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline‘s 24/7 online chat room
  • The Crisis Text Line‘s national 24/7 text line
  • The San Francisco Night Ministry provides crisis counseling to anyone nationally from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. PST.
  • The Veterans Crisis Line provides 24/7 crisis counseling to active duty military or veterans. Their phone number is 1-800-273-8255 press 1
  • The Trans Lifeline provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention to trans and non-binary people. Their US phone number is 1-877-565-8860 and their Canada phone number is 1-877-330-6366
  • HopeLine provides suicide prevention and crisis counseling nationally. They are based out of Raleigh, NC and can be called at 1-877-235-4525 or texted at 919-231-4525
  • Boys Town Suicide and Crisis Line provides suicide prevention counseling to teens, parents and families. Their phone number is 800-448-3000
  • The Trevor Project provides 24/7 crisis counseling and suicide prevention counseling to LGBT+ youth. Their phone number is 866-4-U-TREVOR

Here is also a list of other sites that offer suicide prevention and crisis counseling services.

Please speak out. Reach out. Be available. We need each other. We need you.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Lead image via contributor

Originally published: July 21, 2017
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home