When the answers aren’t clear
I can’t hear the message as clearly as I used to that bounced around my head so profoundly for years telling me to take my life. The constant and overwhelming belief that all the people in my life would be better off if I just followed through with taking my life no longer haunts me. The idea that I would somehow be better off if I just escaped the pain of feeling so alone in the world by taking my life no longer makes sense to me. And how did I get to this point? I don’t really know for sure, but nearly every day I am reminded, because of someone else’s pain, that I am fortunate to not be in this place because this is the embodiment of “hell on earth.” And for that I am grateful.
This past weekend I learned of a young man’s suicide who I never met, so when I was asked “why” would he do this I was at a complete loss for words. And then I spent some time thinking and realized that even if I knew this young man, I would still be at a loss of words on how to answer this question. The only answer I might have is that the pain he was living with was greater than his ability continue. I know this is a vague answer that is void of anything substantial, but often we have no clear answers about what pushes people to this final act.
It feels important to try and explain why people die by suicide. We do it out of the desire to make sense of it, to try and prevent others from doing it, to find the words to comfort the person’s loved ones, and I think we do it to either confirm or discredit views we have about the one lost to suicide. We want answers and we often never get them. I certainly can’t explain it. What I know is that my heart is heavy for those who die by suicide. I can never truly understand the pain this young man felt, and I am sorry we didn’t get a chance to talk to him.
In a TV interview not too long ago, Bill looked at the camera and said about those who die by suicide, “I would give anything to have just 5 minutes with that person. To tell him my story and share with him that I got better and so could he.” I’ve known Bill a long time and I have a pretty good sense of who Bill is and those were some of the sincerest words I have ever heard him speak. It’s not that Bill’s story would save this person, but rather in this story is hope and optimism that despite what feels and appears to be no reason for living, there might just be a glimmer of hope to keep trying. In this story is the promise that you’re not alone in this world and that while it all looks insurmountable, it can be done.
So, when the answers aren’t clear, and the explanations seem empty, then I think we turn to love. We never forget the one we lost, we hold their memory dear, and we try to learn. We think of someone in our lives who might be struggling, and we tell them they’re cared for and not alone. We do our best to be kind to one another and hold up those around us who need that extra hand. We do what we can to try and prevent this tragedy from happening again.
Take care and be kind to yourself and others,