This morning I woke up and went to work like normal.  I was a little upset over some petty things that had happened the night before and wasn’t exactly enthused about the prospect of work but I went anyways, as one does.

About an hour into work I learned the terrible news that a friend of mine had taken his life yesterday.

I won’t go into the details as it would be disrespectful to the family.

The news completely threw me.  I couldn’t talk and had to have the relief dispatcher take my channel so I could leave the room.  I’m a 911 dispatcher, I see some form of tragedy every day but this was different.  I’d just seen this person on Monday and we’d eaten dinner together.  I’d had him over to my house to watch movies.  We liked talking about criminals and shoes and life.  Despite all of this I didn’t even realize that anything was wrong.

I mean, sure, he’d been a bit…aloof over the last several months.  He’d been grumpy, which wasn’t typical, but I chalked it up to burn out.  I thought he needed a vacation or to quit one of his jobs or start something new that he was excited about.  I didn’t know what was really going on in his head.

Looking back on it now, there are so many other things I would have done if only I’d been a little bit more astute.  I keep going over the things I remember about him and it makes me think oh, that makes sense now.

I think the most tragic part of this death is not necessarily that it happened (still tragic) but more that it could have been prevented.

I wish he had reached out.  I wish he had said something.  There were so many people in his life that would have bent over backwards to help him out in whatever way he needed if he’d just said something.  His family is devastated.  His friends are in shock.  So many people loved him and none of us knew.

I was speaking about this to another one of my friends and he revealed to me that he himself had had a suicide attempt that he had survived.  This was surprising to me because he’s such a cheerful, easy going individual and I never, ever dreamed that he would do something like that.  He said that someone who gets to the point where they have lost so much hope that death is the only way out is sort of stuck in a hole that they just don’t know how to get out of.  They’re in so deep that they can’t see the people around them that are trying to help them out.  It’s so dark in there that there just doesn’t seem to be any way out.

I’ve never been in a situation like that.  I can’t imagine it.  I personally don’t understand what it is like to be so hopeless that you just don’t know where to turn.  I’m not even going to pretend that I know how that feels.

But please, if that’s where you are, please reach out to someone.  The title of this blog post is the number for the National Suicide Hotline.  It’s free, it’s available 24 hours a day and there are people on the other end of that phone that want to help you out.

There are people in your life that love you.  There are people in your life that don’t understand how you feel, but want to help you out no matter what.

If I had one more day with my friend, just one, I would try everything in my power to help him out.  And it’s horrible to me to think that he thought no one cared.  Or, worse, that he knew people cared but was in such a dark place that it didn’t matter.

Someone cares about you!  I might not even know you, but if I found out you killed yourself, it would matter to me.  Please, reach out to someone and explain how you feel.  And if they don’t listen to you for whatever reason, call the hotline, find another person, call 911, do something.  There is always hope!  I know you might not see that right now and I know that you might not believe me, but I need you to.  I need you to reach out to someone for help.  Please don’t do what my friend did.

I miss him so much.  He thought I didn’t care.  He died thinking that there was no other way but this.  I wish I could go back just thirty-six hours and be there to talk him out of it.  I wish I could go back to Monday and hug him and ask him how he was doing really.  I wish I could text him and ask him to go hang out.  I wish…

For those of you who aren’t in the place where you’ve lost hope, please, look out for your friends.  If they’ve started withdrawing or if they’ve suddenly gotten angry or if something seems wrong, talk to them.  Ask them how they’re really doing.  Take them out for coffee and have a good conversation.  Don’t force them to open up but be there for them.  Show them you care.

I think too many of us are under the impression that we’re going to change the world but we need to grow up.  That’s just not going to happen.  You aren’t going to do much to affect 6 billion people but you can help the people around you.  You can affect your world – the individuals in your family, your friends.  That’s where you need to focus your energies.

We’re all small fish in a huge pond.  Stop thinking that you’re going to become famous or popular and just focus on the people who really care about you and who you care about. That’s where you can have an affect.  That’s where you can change things.  Pay attention to your people.

So text or call your siblings.  Text or call that friend that you haven’t heard from in awhile.  Check in on them.  Make sure they know you’re there.  Make sure they know you love them.

And please, if you are thinking about committing suicide, please reach out.


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