It’s one o’clock in the afternoon on Thursday, July 20. I’m in the middle of writing a story at work about renewable energy. And, I’m crying. Tears, literally bubbling up at the brim of my under eyes. Crying. I hope I can pull myself together before a coworker walks by and notices. I just learned of Chester Bennington’s suicide. He was the lead singer of Linkin Park, a favorite band of mine and he was responsible for much of the soundtrack to my college life. The first thing I did when I heard of his death was listen to this.
Thus, the crying. At my desk.
His words, the lyrics, the sounds, the life and family he left behind, all so confusing. I know he had a past riddled with addiction, pain, and trauma that we will never understand. But it seemed he was also deeply impacted by the death of his good friend by suicide, Chris Cornell. It’s beyond imaginable to me how someone’s mind, especially after losing a loved one to suicide, can go there too. Suicide has been weighing heavy on my heart today, and lately.
Suicide. It’s something people don’t talk about much. It’s an act viewed in many different lights. Selfish, cowardly, brave, freeing, unforgivable, shameful, and unconceivable among other things. I’ve honestly never had a suicidal thought in my life. But, I know others have and I feel true compassion for that, whether you believe me or not. And, I know, all too well, others who have acted on it. Hearing of someone’s suicide breaks my heart. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Strangers, children, transgendered people, parents, the lonely, the confused, the bullied, the addicted, public figures, and musicians.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. and I want anyone who’s ever had a thought about it to know that there is someone out there who loves you. Mental illness, instability in life, depression, or suicidal thoughts do not define your destiny, and they are not set in stone. I’m a true believer that God had a plan for each and every one of us. But suicide throws all that stuff into a big ball of confusion.
I just want anyone who is struggling to know that there’s another place you’re supposed to go as long as you can keep HOPE. Hold On, Pain Ends. No matter how much I try and put myself in the mindset of someone who’s on the verge of taking their own life, I can’t. But, I’ve been on the receiving end of what’s left behind and the last thing I would tell anyone on that ledge is to always know that the world is a better place with you in it. No matter what. Even if I don’t know you, I know this to be true. So please, please don’t suffer in silence and don’t listen to your negative thoughts.
There are good, kind people who care and want to see you thrive in life. To you, this might sound like the most desperate and cheezy thing to do, but please call a friend or call a suicide hotline if you need help.
If you need help right now, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.
And likely, the ones who would never consider calling a hotline are the ones who die by suicide anyway. But please know that there are kind people on the other end who care. Like my Mom who spent years volunteering her Sunday nights to staff a suicide hotline and talked to people, week after week, who just needed someone to listen. She cares if one more light goes out. I care if one more light goes out. Friends, even if I would never guess you were struggling, I am always available to talk if you need me. What’s scarier than reaching out for help is to never be able to reach out to anyone you’ve ever loved in life again.
We are not bound to the day that came before us.
If you know someone who’s been changed by suicide, you might not want to bring up the subject because asking them about it might be uncomfortable or painful. But I think the truth is, people left behind by loved ones from suicide, in some instances, do want to talk. They do want to know that the spirit of their loved one who left this earth in a tragic and unthinkable way is still living on in the good memories and thoughts of others.
As Macklemore says in my new favorite song Glorious, “I heard you die twice, once when they bury you in the grave, and the second time is the last time that somebody mentions your name.”
Mention their name.
It’s natural to try and organize things in our minds to understand why things happen. The truth about suicide is we’ll never know why. And for everyone who has ever known someone who killed themselves, that question will never go away. So, rather than asking and talking about the “why,” just mention their name. The wounds get smaller as time goes on and the memories get brighter. If you think of a fond memory of the person who’s gone, tell them. It might bring a smile to their face or a reminder of the way in which their loved one had an impression on others.
I’ve always used this blog as a place to park my feelings and thoughts, and so this time is no different. Let’s all try and do a better job to be kind and careful with others because you never know what struggles lie beneath the surface. I love you all and I care if one more light goes out. I really do.