The Day Suicide Changed My Life Forever
Update: I wrote this five years ago and post it each and every year on the anniversary of his death. For years, I've done this for me. This year, I post it for you. I want you to know the signs. I want you to be aware of what people may be going through. I want you to avoid feeling how I do when I read it myself. Please take the time to care for one another.
May 13th, 2008. It was just another day. It was beautiful outside. Nice and sunny. I got up and took the kids to the park. It was a normal day. We headed over to McDonald’s to celebrate the sun for lunch. As I sat there I thought about the conversation that I had with my friend the day before. He was pretty shook up over a recent breakup and had been calling a lot for advice from me.
What advice did I have for him? It had been almost 10 years since I had broken up with anyone. I didn’t know what to tell him. But I was willing to try for him. He had been through a divorce already and still had some open scars from that one. This was just a fresh wound that would heal. Everybody goes through a breakup sometime in their life right? “I’ll talk to you tomorrow bud,” I said to him and hung up the phone.
“It’s too bad Tim has to work today. We could hang out,” I thought as we finished up lunch. Well, maybe after I get the kids home and down for a nap, I’ll check in on him to see how he’s holding up.
So we went home and as much as I wanted to let the kids stay up to enjoy the weather, it was nap time so I put them down. I did a little cleaning up and turned on the TV. That’s when I got the phone call.
“Hey Brett, we have a problem.” She started off the conversation. “We think Tim may have hung himself.”
Then there was nothing.
What? My friend Tim? You must be talking about someone else. Not my friend Tim. The guy who was always making everyone laugh. The guy who always made me laugh? The guy who was always my rock to stand on? You can’t be talking about him. He’s been through some tough things in his life and he’s always come out with a smile on his face. He’s the guy who can take anything! Are you sure?
They weren’t sure. They were going to call me back when they had more information. So now what? I sat there not sure if my best friend was going to have another day or if he had already left this life. I remember not knowing what to do. What do you do after you receive news like that? I broke into tears. I sat on the stairs trying to muffle my sniffles to avoid the explanation that I’d have to give to my two sleeping children. But there was no containing the tears. I have never cried like I did that day.
I called in to work to tell them that I wouldn’t be in that night and my words were hardly audible. I tried to reach my wife but she wasn’t accessible where she was working so I called the only other person who might be able to console me in a time like this. I called my dad. He lived about 30 minutes away from me. He could tell by the desperation in my voice that I need him. He made it to my house in 15 minutes. This is the first time that I remember getting mad about it. I remember being completely confused with my dad asking him why he would do it and still not totally believing that he was gone. Then came the second phone call.
“He’s gone," said the voice on the other line. It was official. And time stood still once again.
That was it. In a matter of a couple hours, I had lost a best friend who was like a brother to me. Without question, he was the most selfless person I’ve ever met when it came to his friends and family. He would go to incredible lengths for someone that he cared for. But now he was gone. And my life was changed forever.
I’ve heard people turn their noses up in disgust when I talk about suicide and they talk about how selfish it is. That may be true. It is a selfish act. It’s the disgust that bothers me. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not something that should be glamorized. There’s nothing glamorous about it, the act is terrible. But the people who commit suicide should not be looked down upon. They’re people who have real problems that they're trying to deal with. People shouldn’t have such strong feelings about something they know so little about. You can’t know what was going through the mind of someone who committed suicide. I know that my friend was a good person. He was just in a very dark place. He had a moment of weakness that he couldn’t overcome. I know that there were better days ahead for him. He just decided to cash in his chips before the game was over.
So it’s been 3 years to the day now since I lost my best friend. I’m still plagued by it everyday. The question of what could I have done to avoid it lingers. If I would have answered my phone or been in a different place, would he still be here? They’re all questions that can’t be answered.
But there are things that can be done to help stop the next one. There are places to go, and people to call if you’re considering suicide. I cannot put into words the amount of pain that is spread amongst survivors of suicide. Please call someone if you need help. Check out The American Foundation For Suicide Prevention if you feel like someone you know may be considering suicide. If you need help you can call Crisis Services at 834-3131 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-Talk). And join me as we walk to eliminate the stigma of suicide at the Buffalo Out Of The Darkness Walk on September 17, 2011. It’s a great opportunity to share your stories about the people that we lost all too soon.