Whenever we read an obituary of a young twenty-something-year-old with no cause of death listed, it typically leaves one incredibly sad option: suicide.
I found out that a classmate took his life about a week or so ago; you never would’ve known or guessed by talking to him. I can only imagine the pain he must have been in–so intelligent, thoughtful, and bitingly witty, and he hid his sadness so well.
While I certainly was not close with him and hadn’t spoken to him since graduation, moments like this and seeing such loss creates a space for reflection.
Mental illness and suicide are terrifying things, particularly when we don’t talk about them. Mental illness can take us to scary places. If you know someone struggling, check in on them. If someone looks sad, give a smile. While these small acts may not make any real changes, you never know what it could mean. While this might sound trite, it’s true. I was crying on the train home about a week ago, and some random stranger gave me his pack of tissues. I’m not exaggerating when I say that lifted my spirits significantly.
I’ve seen so many untimely deaths in the past year and I’ve thought a lot about what it means to live well and what “success” looks like. Unfortunately, I think a lot of us have it all wrong. It’s not about the job. It’s not about the money. It’s not about the great vacation. It’s about the people, the short conversations, the connections, the joy that make the minutes count.
I have been going through a difficult few weeks with the one year anniversary of my ex-boyfriend’s death, and I know some days I’ve struggled to get out of bed and struggled to make it through an hour, let alone a day. These days happen, and when they do, practice self-care by doing whatever you can to feel good. Calling a friend, journaling, screaming into a pillow, getting into therapy. It’s different for everyone, but we have to make this a conversation that everyone can have.
If you or someone you know is struggling, reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: Call 1-800-273-8255