How To Save A Life

It has been the highlight of the news since it happened. Almost everyone has written or spoken about it. Yet no one has delved into the depths of it. Instead they’ve woven circles around it resulting in an unsettling maze.

I am pondering death…not the kind contributed to old age or terminal illness or sudden circumstances. I am pondering suicide, especially the most recent person to succumb to this decision, Robin Williams.  He has been the topic of news ever since his death became public knowledge. People and even companies have paid tribute to him. Celebrities have voiced their sorrow. Family members released statements, the latest revealing a  diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The Bravo channel did a replay of Robin’s interview on the show Actor’s Studio. However what comes to my mind when I think of Robin’s death is how did someone so seemingly cheerful, full of life and  comical on the outside kill himself? And, how much was he suffering to think the only way out was to take his own life?

It seems no one, even those closest, really knows the truth lying dormant inside of another. No one really knows the pain, the suffering, the dark lurking in another’s soul, spirit and heart. Sadly, assumptions are made based on ‘performance’ or what we see the person doing or acting like. It deeply saddens me, of the pain, not only Robin endured, but millions are suffering from day after day after day. And the only way they feel they can truly end the pain is to snuff out their very breath and silence themselves for eternity.

Suicide has touched my life. In high school, a fellow student, named Andy came to a group of us, claiming he wanted to kill himself. Back then, suicide was not talked about nor was intervention. As a result, and I say this with deep shame, we all laughed and pooh-poohed him. Next morning, we found out he had taken his dad’s shotgun, walked to the field behind his house and blew his brains out. It was only then we all realized Andy was serious and asking for help. Instead of offering a hand, we turned our backs. I know whenever I think back, this is the only thing I regret about my life. Andy had a right to grow up into an adult. Andy had a right to have help for whatever he was experiencing. Andy had a right not to live as a tragic memory, but as a whole human being savoring life. Andy had a right to friends who should have listened, put an arm around his shoulders and talked with him. Unfortunately, Andy had none of these.

In order to understand why others commit suicide, I have read books by celebrities and families who have experienced suicide of a son, daughter, mother, father, friend or someone they knew, whether closely or not. The most important thing I learned is even though one ends one’s life, the pain is shifted to those left behind as guilt runs rampant, stabbing the hearts still beating, with questions of not only ‘why?’ but ‘what could I have done to prevent it?’

I definitely have experienced depression, sadness, doubt and emotional turmoil. However, none of these have ever reached a level where I have not been able to eventually see my way through to a better place. It is extremely overwhelming for me to imagine the pain a suicide victim is going through. And notice I said victim. For I believe those who are suffering so deeply within are victims. So what can the rest of us do?

Watch, listen and take seriously ANY promise another person may utter about killing themselves, even if that person says it ‘jokingly’  or appears to be ‘upbeat’ all the time. All of us wear masks. All of us hide secrets we feel shameful about or regretful for or embarrassed about. Some of us may even believe if we share what is darkening not only our hearts but our lives, we may be rejected or not believed or no longer loved. Just writing this brings tears to my eyes for I know there are SO MANY suffering with pain so deep they are petrified by fear and think if they end their lives, the pain will end as well. Maybe so…at least for the victims but not those left to deal with the aftermath.

Believe me, if I could go back in time, I would do whatever it took to guarantee Andy would see the light of day for a long time. He didn’t have to die. And neither does anyone else.

So, I implore you, please, if you know of someone who is going through a rough time, extend your hand, offer your help, do whatever you can to save their life. One person can make a difference. And with an open hand, an open heart and unconditional love, a life just may be saved.

Hopeful for those thinking of suicide, not to become a victim or a statistic, but a survivor of life.



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