My senior year of undergrad, a long-term couple among my close friends broke up.
I don’t remember the details of the breakup, but it wasn’t pretty. Over the winter semester in particular, Jeremy imploded. He more or less completely lost the will to live. Things like hitchhiking—or at least threatening to hitchhike—30 or more miles from a weekend away with the college Ren Faire group. Things like writing what seemed to amount to an extremely long farewell note on LiveJournal. It got so bad that a bunch of us started an active suicide watch for him. I remember one night where my roommates and I brought him back to our campus apartment and took shifts sitting with him, making sure he slept on the couch.
Things wound up okay in the end. A few days before graduation I went to his parents and made sure they understood just how badly Jeremy was self-destructing. It turned out they knew, and made him check into a mental health institute for a week or two that night same night. It wound up being the wake-up call he needed; he got vastly better after that. Last I heard he was happily married with two kids.
I bring this up because, in retrospect, we were “lucky.” There was nothing subtle about Jeremy’s self-destruction; it was a rough time, but it made it obvious that intervention was necessary. Most suicides, like Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, seem to be more subtle. And we only hear about people like them because they’re celebrities. How many people do I know who are, right now, struggling with these thoughts?
If you’re in that situation, please: get help.
Originally written circa April 2004
I grieve like I’ve already lost a friend.
You seem so dead inside, like there’s a void
That nothing I could do could ever mend.
I want to fix it. I have been annoyed
By you in distant ages. I’ve been hurt.
But that no longer matters. All I want
Is that you’d rise again out of the dirt
That you believe surrounds you. Though she haunts
Your waking dreams, and though the pain is great,
This, too, will pass. It’s true, though you deny.
I’d take this pain from you; I’d take your hate.
I’d take your anger, take the tears you cry—
If I were able; make it go away—
Please, let me know that you will be okay.
NOTE: I drew today’s header image while Jeremy was getting increasingly depressed. I scanned it in ages ago, so it’s not the highest quality image, but it does a pretty good job of representing Jeremy’s body language at the time.