Just finished a long day. Close friend on suicide alert. Not sure that’s actually the right term. But it’s a scary prospect. I’ve never known anyone who killed himself. I’m more than a little familiar with folks who have teetered on the brink, and I have personally faced off with the kind of darkness that leads one to the edge of that cliff. I often wonder if someone who hasn’t suffered from major depression can even begin to understand how suicide can honestly seem like someone’s best or most viable option. If you’ve never experienced the halting and insurmountable pain of that darkness, how can you even approach an understanding of it.
A lot of kids commit suicide. They’re often bright kids; heads of their class, well liked, accomplished in several areas. But in spite of how the rest of the world sees them, they are internally drowning in a turbulent sea of blackness that is unrelenting, overwhelming and hopeless.
I think about my own kids a lot; will they ever fall prey to the merciless and unpredictable villain of depression? My funny, playful little boys who race around the backyard chasing puppy tails and running through sprinklers. Will they ever be so overcome with pain that they will contemplate leaving this world, just as I have done? And will I know it in time to help? Will I see the signs? Will I be capable of objective observation; the distance that’s necessary to see the bigger picture?
My friend is still alive. And aside from the obvious, maybe there’s another gift that comes with this kind of close call. It allowed us to hear the warning cry, the blaring siren of distress that screams, “Stop being so self-absorbed. Stop living in your tiny, self-contained little world. Look around. See who needs you. Reach out. Step up to the plate. Share your life with people you care about. Stop pretending this couldn’t all end in a millisecond.”