Last week I got a phone call from a friend asking me if I would go with her to the hospital. As I quickly got ready to go and met her outside, she told me a friend of her family had overdosed on his medication. The doctors didn't think he'd make it through the night and she wanted to say her goodbyes.
Hearing that, I was stopped in my tracks, slapped upside my head, and I didn't hear a word she said after that. She had to come back to me and ask if I was okay. Too many thoughts went through my mind.
The reason it hit me hard (I didn't know him personally) is because I've often thought about it. I'll admit there was a time when I would wake up mad that I woke up at all. I didn't want to be here. I didn't care to be here and I was so tired of always hurting. I would often ask a friend to take me out in his field and put me down like a horse...put me out of my misery. He's always refused me though saying he'd miss me too much. My desire not to be here has wavered over the years. There are times I'm glad I'm still here and there are other times I'd be perfectly okay if I wasn't.
There have been many times when I've responded "I'm not feeling well" because I know there is no way I can share what I'm really feeling some days. I can't explain it. I don't want to talk about it (even if may need to). I just feel it. Because you see? I'm not scared of suicide. I'm scared of what would happen if I failed.
Well, I found out what would happen and it was another hard hit.
Turning the corner into his cubical at the Intensive Critical Care Unit (ICCU), I was not prepared for what we would find. Seeing him attached to all the machines, so many wires and tubes coming to and from him, was hard to see. As a Mom myself, I shed a few tears and said many prayers for his Mom...and for him.
We approached his bed very slowly and I think my friend was in shock. Her face went pale and she looked scared. I know I was. Could we touch him? Would he hear us if we talked to him? What do you say to someone who has tried this? So many questions went through my mind. One thought that kept coming back up was that this should never have happened. He was so young, so vibrant, yes he was struggling and life was hard, but he had other options and now another young life was in peril.
Did he tell his Mom how he felt? I don't know. I don't know if he had someone to talk to like a counselor, or a trusted friend. I don't know if this was his first attempt or if it was an accident. What was he trying to do? Most likely numb and stop the pain he felt. But this should never have happened.
Many people won't talk about their suicidal thoughts for fear of reprisal and rejection. Instead they stew in it until the act of suicide seems like their only option for reprieve. Is our society capable of handling these thoughts? I don't think so. Sadly we live in a time where understanding of something that can't be seen (like problems of the mind) are simply shunned and shuffled away...put off as "not my problem". Well, it is our problem. Too many people are losing their lives and that's not okay! it's unacceptable.
While we stayed with Warren, we touched his hands (he was so cold), gently stroking them. We chose to believe that he could he hear us. My friend told him she loved him and she shared a few funny memories. I swear his hand got warmer where I was touching him. Hearing the machines beep off his every breath, every beat of his heart, made for a surreal moment. And in that time, I realized that seeing this young man just saved my life.
To commit suicide, some believe it's a selfish action. I disagree. In that moment the only thing that comes to mind is the desire to make the pain stop. Thinking our family and friends would be better off without us as burdens. That even the world would be better of without us. I'm not saying these thoughts are rational but they're the truth.
I'm sharing this with you for a reason. If you have thoughts like this too...you're not alone. And I'm sharing this because I hope that if you know what this feels like, that you'll reach out and talk to someone. There are other options and this is NOT our best one. Yes life is hard, and some days it's hell, but I think it would be even worse without you in it. When your thoughts have you thinking of this, find that one thing that means the world to you and hold on for it. Let it be your anchor.
For me? the thing that keeps me here, is my daughter. I don't want her growing up without me. I want to see her get old, To have babies. To get married and make a life of her own, and I can't see that if I'm not here. When these thoughts crash through my life, I give thought to what keeps me here and I keep thinking of that until I can think myself out of my negative thoughts. And yes, you may need to remind yourself of this multiple times in a day, for days on end...but do it! Call a crisis line, go to the hospital, call a trusted friend...just DO NOT give up your life.
My friend said he passed the next day.
In memory of Warren I write this, with thanks for teaching me a lesson and for saving my life.