This week is World Suicide Prevention Week as well as the eleventh anniversary of September 11th. My stories are stories of loss of two young women struck down in the prime of their lives. Yet they each made a huge impact on those who loved them. I am reminded of both of them as I marked this somber anniversary. Part 1 is my story of a beautiful soul who saw no way out of her own suffering except to take her own life.
Nearly twenty years ago, a high school friend of mine committed suicide. She was beautiful, smart, friendly and kind. She was one of the most popular students in our high school. People were drawn to her kindness and her genuineness. She was our yearbook co-editor and our homecoming queen. She was planning on studying premed in college. She was a Porter Scholar, a high school student who attended classes at Beloit College based on their grades and overall academic excellence.
I remember working with her during yearbook that year. I was so excited to be a copy editor that year. I was looking forward to the increased responsibility and the opportunity to work even more closely with her. I wish I could have asked her truly how she was doing. I had no idea that she was struggling. What I remember from that day at school was my calculus teacher pleading with all of us in tears to talk to someone, anyone if we were feeling depressed. She urged us to keep talking and reaching out to each other. She reminded us that we had our whole lives in front of us. She implored us that life was so short and so precious.
I have struggled with depression and anxiety, and I have also dealt with horrible intrusive thoughts that have involved flashes of me harming myself. I could not act on these impulses because I was forever changed the day I attended my friend’s funeral. Seeing the pain in the eyes of her parents and her siblings haunted me. I know how depression can steal the fight and life from you. I realize how it may seem like suicide is the only way out. It is not. You are loved. You matter. Reach out. Ask for help. Below is the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.