I welcome the end of the Summer of 2015. I welcome it enthusiastically, even. My summer never really got started. I consider it the Lost Summer of 2015, and I welcome moving on from it gratefully. I haven’t been able to write the words I’m about to below until now for some reason, but I figured this was as good an occasion as any to try. I only hope I do not offend any affected party with my candidness.
Near the beginning of summer, on June 26th, my 19 year old step brother committed suicide. Those words are still agony to type. I still have a lot of trouble saying the word, “suicide.” It’s getting easier with time, or maybe I’m just developing a sort of emotional callous to the whole thing. You click into survival mode. People that are not in a suicidal state can click into such a mode. More on this later. It has been hard for me to watch television shows or films having to do with suicide. I’ve shied away from the subject, and stayed away from shows, movies, or even songs or stand-up comedy that deals with the subject. Some in my orbit, some touched by this event directly even, do not seem to have this problem. I guess I do.
A few posts down I pontificated on the suicide of Robin Williams. It’s a post I almost took down and deleted out of sheer embarrassment. I knew nothing when I wrote that post, absolutely nothing. I hit a low point in my life emotionally, a time when I was still struggling to find my place in the world, and during that time I thought I had gained an understanding of suicidality and depression. I then thought I was smart enough to share it with whoever happened to stumble onto this page and read it. I was a fool, and I didn’t know shit. I know now that many depressed people never get to that suicidal place. I wish I knew the difference earlier.
And I want to correct one specific thing I said below: suicide does not bring peace or comfort, to anyone. It brings only death, and mourning, and pain. It’s a lie. Dying doesn’t release you from anything. It simply makes you not exist anymore, and it leaves everyone else here to deal with what comes next because you couldn’t. It’s not a character flaw to ask for help. It’s not a death sentence to feel lost in life, or to have a medical condition. Life’s meaning is to be alive. This is not to condemn, or minimize. After all, suicidal depression is a disease that eats away at a person's ability to see rationally. But I was not aware then of many things I know now. I wish I knew then what I know now, and I wish I had leaned on my stepbrother harder to get help. I didn’t know how. No one did. He wouldn’t accept help. If you’re feeling lost, get help. There IS help available. Go here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
When someone you knew takes their own life, particularly a family member, and especially a young family member, it quite literally shakes your whole life to its very core. They gave up, you think, and how could they when they’re so much younger and so much more able to do anything, go anywhere, and be anyone they want? When you get to be in your 30s and 40s you find yourself anchored to the life you’ve chosen, and at times you look back and wonder if things had gone differently where you’d be. You start questioning your own direction in life. You become preoccupied with death, especially early, tragic death. You become afraid of your own mortality. And on some level you still cannot accept that they actually went through with it, even though you never really thought they would, while freely ignoring ample evidence along the way. Or maybe that’s just me. Some people look at it as an example they’d rather not emulate. And then they move on agreeing that it was sad, tragic, and unfortunate. For me though, I cannot help but re-hash the events over and over in my head, wishing I had done this or that differently. But it won’t make a difference now.
So the summer of 2015 is lost to me. My stepbrother is lost to me. My only hope at this point is to try and pick up the pieces left behind, and try to forget in time that which is etched in my memory: a phone call, everyone in 2 states collapsing onto the floor in shock that the unthinkable did happen despite everyone’s efforts to stop it, the pure and horrible chaos that followed, and the cold, hard reality and finality of it all.
Suicide is not the answer.
Go hug a loved one.