One summer in college, I became friends with a fellow student who was a talented graphic artist. At 21 he had already produced works for commission for local businesses. But he was a troubled soul; he had attempted suicide and he sometimes cut himself as punishment. Alcohol was his drug of choice to ease the pain.
We were friends but I couldn’t help him. I needed help almost as much as he did. I never actively contemplated suicide but I felt like I was at the bottom and couldn’t get out. Life seemed pointless and I wanted it to be over though without my involvement in ending it. When fleeting thoughts of suicide came into my head, the realization that my life was not my own to take kept the thoughts from becoming plans. I knew in my heart that God gives life and God takes it away according to his plan. My faith was weak at the time but that truth written on my heart kept me alive.
This friend was not the only troubled person that I knew. When I was 15 years old, a cousin passed out on the railroad tracks after a night of heavy drinking. Twelve years later, a cousin on the other side of the family committed suicide. Just before Christmas 2011, a cousin buried his 26 year old daughter who died from an overdose. I have other family members and friends who currently struggle with depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. You know them too.
I have come a long way since that fateful summer more than two decades ago. I deal with the issues as they arrive and I do what I need to do to stay emotionally healthy. Did my friend ever learn to do the same? Is he still alive? I pray that he is.
If you’re struggling, find someone who will listen. Don’t give up.
Requiscant in pace, my cousins.
How to Save a Life