A few weeks ago I found out that a former classmate of mine committed suicide. Now, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I’m all broken up over his demise, especially considering the fact that he was never a friend of mine. In fact, the only real interaction I can remember of him was being told by a frenemy, that he told her I wasn’t “too easy on the eyes,” after learning I had a crush on his best friend. But like with most deaths in general, I immediately “missed him.” Well, not really missed him at all really, rather I was taken aback by the fact that as an adult, I’ll never run into him in life ever again. The last memories or glimpses of his life I’ll ever have are of those words, as well as his obituary. Suicide in particular always hits me hard, because as someone who has dealt with mental health issues for practically all my life, I’ve been there myself. I know what it’s like to want to die, to not want to go on, to think that life will always be this way.
When I was 8 my mother’s boyfriend tried to kill himself in our bathtub. It was a weekday, my mother picked me up from daycare and we headed home. Things had been tense, the economy was for shit, and she and her man had both lost her jobs. On the way, we stopped at a Revco, I had ten dollars that was burning a hole in my pocket. For some dumb ass reason I bought a dictionary. When we got home I made a beeline for the kitchen and began making my way to the top of the fridge which had a box of oatmeal cream pies with my name on it. My mother went to the bathroom and started screaming my name, asking for the phone. “Dang, couldn’t this wait?” The pie was almost mine. I climbed down from the chair to get the phone for her. When I handed it to her she was still on the toilet, and he was in the bathtub. She was in shock, his eyes were closed and the water was red. I stared at his body for a few seconds before she closed the door and told me to go downstairs and wait for the ambulance.
My eyes met the first responder as he was walking up the stairs, he paused and said, “Everything is going to be okay.” We never talked about what happened that day, I only heard my mother angrily mused on how stupid it was for him to do such a thing because he couldn’t find a job. He lived and they stayed together for a bit longer. Sometimes I see him on facebook and I’m happy that he seems to be experiencing better days.
Most people would say people who choose to end their lives are cowards or selfish for only thinking about themselves. But what if they aren’t? If I’m being honest, when I find out that someone has chosen to end their life, I’m a little awestruck that they were able to do something I’ve never been able to succeed at. The truth is, I’ve tried several times to work up the courage to do the same thing. Last year in my old apartment I stood on the ledge of my 10th floor balcony, dangling my feet out the window, I tried to push myself off the ledge, closing my eyes, daring myself to let go, but in the end couldn’t. I did that twice. This summer it was pills. Collecting all of my diabetes medication in my hand I understood in that moment why the Chinese government doesn’t give out too much at one time.
I guess since I haven’t done it I really don’t want to die, I just don’t want to feel this way anymore. But I wonder what finally pushes them over the edge? Had they tried before? Was it a snap decision? Was there a plan? A particularly bad day, or week or month? What was the straw that finally broke their back? Sometimes I am scared of myself. I’m scared that the only real reason that I didn’t do what he did, or what countless others did, is because I don’t want to prove all the people in my past right. All the people who think I am crazy or that something is wrong with me. I am scared that I will stop caring about my parents finding out what I have done, or what people will say about the actions I have chosen. I’m afraid that one day, I won’t care anymore if my eulogy reads suicide or “died suddenly.”
When you die you don’t have to think of anything. No worries, no bills, no loneliness, nothing. There will be no cares in the world, and most importantly, there will be no heartache and no pain.