There comes a time in every teenager’s life when they contemplate ending it all. Actually, wait, is that just me? Unfortunately, I’m only half kidding here. And by half kidding, I mean not kidding at all. July 2nd, 2020. I’ll never forget the day. The day I almost left my life behind. But this story has a happy ending, I promise. I mean, look at me now. I’m still here. Besides, I learned something important about people in this process.
After I survived that day in July, I studied suicide for a little while. One of the cases which stuck out to me was Chester Bennington’s. The lead singer of Linkin Park died in 2017 when he hung himself. The strange thing was he was just on a vacation with his family the day before. And no one saw it coming. They didn’t know that was the last time they’d ever see him. They had no idea.
That part of the story has bothered me for a long time. It makes me wonder: How many of the people I know are like this? How many of them are hanging on for dear life? How many conversations have I had with people who are barely walking the edge?
Because here’s the thing: Almost anyone could’ve stopped me that day in July. All it would’ve taken was someone — even a stranger, for goodness sake — to say, “You belong here.” Or, “You’ll find your place in the world, some day.” Forget the “I appreciate you” or “I care about you a lot”. I didn’t even need something that nice.
But instead, my dad went to work as usual. Completely oblivious to the call he’d get the next morning. My mom was going off about some insignificant little problem, as usual. And the whole time, I wanted to say to her, “You know, you can be a real piece of work, sometimes. But I feel sorry for you. Because this nagging is the last thing you’ll ever say to your only son.”
My point is, it doesn’t take much to save a life. The problem is we have no idea when we need to. People aren’t great at communicating what they need and when in these situations. And no wonder. Life as they know it is crumbling. You really expect them to look out for themselves? And articulate how you can help? It’s not realistic.
I’m writing this because I believe we can do better. This might be a controversial stance, but I think in the tragic event that we lose someone we love this way, it’s always partly our fault. We could’ve said something, sometime. We could’ve done something differently. We could’ve helped some way, somehow. But we didn’t. Whether or not it was intentional is irrelevant. It doesn’t matter even if it wasn’t your fault. Because at the end of the day, you’re the one who has to live with a world without them in it. That’s why I believe we can do better.
I’ve nearly lost a couple friends to suicide before. Thankfully, they’re still here. But after seeing all that, and going through the same thing myself, I’m done being passive. I’m calling on you now: Tell people what they mean to you. Especially if they mean a lot. And do it all the time. Make sure they know that they mean something to someone. You never know how much they might need to hear it.