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home : insight & opinion : guest columns
September 17, 2019

9/9/2019 1:37:00 PM
Coming together to tackle suicide
For the Daily News

I have been asked by Crawford County LIFE to write an article to share about suicide and why I feel suicide awareness and prevention is important.

I have struggled most of my life with depression and have also had a long, personal struggle with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. I am not alone. I spent a lot of my late teens and early 20s using resources such as counseling, in patient care facilities, outpatient day treatment centers, and dialectical behavioral therapy. I am now very grateful that these services were available to me, as I feel they greatly impacted and benefited my life. I wish these services would have been available to my best friend so her story may have had a better ending - that it may not have ended yet.

My best friend died by suicide in late June 2016. She had many battles during her life, including addiction, which ultimately led to making other poor choices; what seemed like a downhill cycle of one poor choice after another resulted in consequences that haunted her for the rest of her life.

Somehow she bounced back after several years. She beat addiction; she served her time, admitted her wrongdoings, made amends and grew! She had such a sparkle in her eyes again, eyes that lit up any room she walked into, and a giggle that was super-contagious. She was so full of life again and it was amazing. We spent almost every day together, and if we couldn't see each other we talked on the phone or at least sent several text messages throughout the day. It was the greatest feeling ever having my best friend back and free of addiction and the other things that changed her and weighed her down. Of course she still had her bad days, we all do.

A few months before she passed away things were changing... She was losing that sparkle in her beautiful eyes and her giggle was less and less. She was "tired" a lot. She said there were days she only got out of bed for me. What I thought was just "not sleeping well" was more of an "I am mentally, emotionally, and physically exhausted." This was the first sign that I missed.

Another missed sign was that she took pictures of her things and started talking about "if anything happens..." basically a verbal will. I didn't even think of this as being a "sign," and just shrugged it off and told her nothing was going to happen to her for a long time so we didn't have to worry about that.

Earlier that year she had made an attempt but it didn't work. She survived, and I remember her telling me about it a few days later. We talked and we cried and one thing that will always stick with me is when she looked me in the eyes with tears pouring down her face and she said, "I am so pathetic that I can't even do that right... I am such a fat, pathetic, loser that I can't even kill myself."

I just remember wrapping my arms around her while we both sobbed; I told her that she wasn't pathetic and she wasn't a loser, that she was an amazing person and that if anything, she should look at it as her sign to stop trying to do that because it was NOT her time.

She didn't listen. Her struggle with depression and anxiety made her life too much for her to bear. I wish she would have had the resources available to her that were available to me just 10-15 years prior.

I know how it feels to be so overwhelmed by basic things and to feel like life is crushing you until you can no longer breathe. I understand why someone feels like making the choice to end their story is the only way to feel relief. But I can also tell you that if they can reach out and get help, if they just keep fighting, kicking and screaming through it, that it does get better - that there is light at the end of the darkness! If I can make it others can too!

This is why I want to help raise awareness, to those struggling, you are not alone! I have been there and made it and you can too! Reach out!

We need to make programs and resources available for everyone. Together we can help prevent this from happening to someone's best friend, parent, spouse, child, grandparent, teacher, soldier, or anyone else. Everyone's life is worth saving.

Please join us as we all come together Saturday from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m, at Washington Park in Robinson for our first Crawford County Out of the Darkness Walk, sponsored by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Mental Health Awareness Day, co-sponsored by the Crawford County Health Department and Crawford county LIFE. We will be walking two laps around the trail at Washington Park to show our support for one another, honor those whose story ended too soon and to help raise suicide awareness and prevention.

This is a family friendly event with activities such as face painting, games, rock painting, DJ, hot dogs and other various booths set up.

These occasional guest columns are provided by Crawford County LIFE, a local non-profit that "exists to liberate residents of preconceived ideas and addictive behaviors by educating to improve understanding of themselves and their needs; to facilitate community resources with the goal to empower residents toward better emotional, physical and mental health." For more information, check out Crawford County LIFE's Facebook page.

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