Suicide Awareness Month Brings Hope to Troubled Minds

It’s 4 am and the phone is glued to my right ear. Leaning against the bed, with my legs splayed out across the floor, I am chatting with a life-long friend about our significant others.

At the age of 17, I found a guy I was completely in love with and devoted 14 months to our relationship. My friend was also in a longterm relationship. Our two boyfriends had one thing in common though: A dark side.

As much as we tried to talk to the guys about it, the conversation never really went anywhere. I had just spoken to my boyfriend Lee, two hours earlier and he sounded really depressed. After repeatedly asking him if he was alright, he didn’t tell me what was going on with him. Jenny and I were talking about it when the call waiting beeped in.

I put her on hold and heard the voice of Lee’s brother on the other end of the line.

“Lee hung himself,” he said. “What?” I did not believe what I was hearing. “Is he OK?”

“No Michelle,” he answered. “He’s dead.”

In that very second, my world was ripped away from me. All the air was sucked out of the room. I desperately held on to the idea that the paramedics could save him. I kept saying, “He’s going to be OK though, right?”

Thoughts of him in the back of an ambulance flashed through my mind as I held on to some unrealistic hope that he would be alive. I had just talked to him a couple of hours ago. How could this be real?

His brother sounded so detached. He had found him hanging in the garage.

How completely horrific. He told me to put my parents on the phone, and I lost it.

I went screaming through the house as the pain tore through my body like fire. My parents woke up in a panic and completely overwhelmed as to what was going on. I was screaming.

“Lee is dead!”

All I remember is my Mom saying, “Oh my god!”

I told my friend, Jenny, who was on hold, what had happened as we were just talking about our boyfriends suicidal tendencies. Even though she lived an hour and a half away, she got right in her car and came to see me. I will never forget what she did for me that day. She got me through it. After I spoke to her on the phone, my life was a blur until the next afternoon.

I had some film with pictures of Lee on it. Jenny took me to get them developed so I would have them right away. I was desperate for something. I needed a piece of him to hold on to. But when we went back to my house, things would come crashing down on me again.

My dearest friend, Debbie, had called while we were out and I returned her call right away. She was calling me to say goodbye. She ingested a lethal amount of prescription medication and wanted to talk to me one last time.

She found out about Lee when she first called and was now regretting her life-threatening decision. Debbie did not want to leave me after Lee just did.

My boyfriend and best friend both attempted suicide on the same day. Only one survived.

Debbie was really out of it and crying. I did not have the address where she was staying, and had her read it to me from a piece of mail. I called 911 right away. They saved her.

And after that, she saved me.

With Lee gone, all I could think about was him lying in the casket. Every time I closed my eyes I saw him. All I wanted to do was be with him, and I did not know how to go on. The pain was so deep and overwhelming. Debbie was my lifeline.

Then the moment came that changed everything inside me. I was on the interstate heading back from visiting Lee’s brother about a week after he died. The sun reflected on the hood of the car as the wind rustled my hair. It was spring; warm. Not a hint of white in the sea-blue sky. Rock music was vibrating through me, and it hit me.

Lee was not here.

He was not here to see this beautiful day. He will never see this again. He was only 18 years old.

I decided that day that I would never hurt anyone like he hurt me. As much as I was suffering, I would never torture my loved ones with taking my own life. Since that day, I have never thought of suicide the same way again.

September is suicide awareness month and I am sharing this in the hope that others might understand how devastating losing a loved one that way can be. I have been through hell and back in my life. I am sure many readers have had their own dark and troubling times, too. As difficult as life can be, suicide is never the answer. It is just giving your family ten times the pain that you are in.

This cut hurt the deepest. Losing him was a feeling I never want to experience again. I only wish there was more I could do to help him at the time, but he refused to reach out.

As I get older, I realize how truly young he was. I have my own children now. My firstborn bears his name in memory of my precious friend. I am sorry he felt so hopeless and could not find another way to cope. There is help out there, and it is up to you to reach out for it.