The S Word


Suicide. There, I said it. In the last 10 months suicide has touched my life twice. And in both cases, no one wanted to use The Word. The shame and secrecy of suicide is so prevalent that I’m not going to name these men, though if you know me personally, you will most likely figure out who I’m referring to.

Briefly then, the first instance was a very close long-time friend of mine who had been going through a rough time. He deleted his Facebook page and his last status was “I’m out.” I thought “Uh-oh,” but he’d deleted his page and then returned once before. This time though… he was gone. I read the news on Twitter and I died a little. I scrambled to contact mutual friends to see if it was true. It was true. My first words to a mutual friend that told me that he was really dead: “Did he do it to himself?” Yes, he did. It was without doubt the worst day of my life.

But in all the Internet reporting, no one said how he died. Once in a while someone would comment that it could be a suicide since no cause of death was ever reported, and the commenter would promptly be told to STFU.

At an impromptu memorial gathering several days later I said to another friend “I knew he’d been down lately, but…” And the friend who’d confirmed the suicide to me pulled me aside—very annoyed—and basically told me to shut up. That he wasn’t telling people the circumstances of the death and was in fact feigning ignorance and proposing alternate methods like ‘maybe it was a bar fight.’

It fucking sucks that my friend killed himself. And I can’t tell you how guilty I feel that I didn’t reach out to him when he deleted his Facebook page. That I didn’t demand that he talk to me. I had thousands of rescue fantasies in which I felt a disturbance in the Force, rushed to his home and saved him.

But here’s the thing. This is what he chose. His final message to the world, in essence was “Fuck this shit. I’m out.” And doesn’t his final “Fuck You” deserve to be heard?

It’s not for me to say. But I think his life and the way he chose to end it would have more meaning if people got the whole story including the unsatisfactory and heartbreaking ending.

Just last month a young man I knew went missing. I didn’t know him that well, but we ran in the same gaming circles, and he was kind enough to get me my iPad 2 with his employee discount. He was a sweet kid. When he left his house that night he deleted all the social media that meant anything to him and left behind his cell phone and wallet. His bicycle was found in a park.

When I heard those few facts I knew what had happened because now, this was not my first rodeo. Even though these facts were known widely people still got very annoyed when anyone suggested that this young man had perhaps killed himself. There’s having hope and there’s sticking your head in the sand. His body was discovered a few days ago. Not many people are calling it suicide outright. I chose to post links to suicide prevention lines which was a sort of passive-aggressive way of acknowledging things.

But this bright and funny young man decided, in his final act, to tell the world “I’m hurting. I reject this.” And I think we owe it to him to listen.

Suicide now kills more people than auto accidents. Depression is a disease with a pretty dismal survival rate. And it IS a disease. A disease that lies, that blinds, that is mostly inescapable without help.

If this young gamer guy had sent you a message on Xbox Live or Skype and said, “Man, I just can’t see any hope for me. I’m thinking I’d be happier if I were dead.” wouldn’t you jump all over that? Wouldn’t you talk to him, call his mom, go to his house and fucking abduct him if it could save him? Of course you would.

So don’t deny what he did. Don’t turn your back on him. He’s past help now, but the next guy isn’t.

Suicide isn’t shameful, it’s sad. What shameful is ignoring it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


  1. As a suicide survivor, I see where they are. Life ends when there is no longer any hope for anything different or better. Fortunately for me, women tend to do less final shit, like slashing wrists (a couple of millimeters to one side and I wouldn’t be here today… but now I joy in those damn millimeters) or pills (I am eternally thankful to the friend who got the cops/ambulance to my house, despite the fact that at the time I was furious). I have friends who have attempted suicide as recently as last year, and as early as 7th grade. It has surrounded me my whole life. I am thankful that most of those friends are with me today, and able to say, yeah, I am glad I didn’t succeed.
    There is a stigma to suicide. Burial on unhallowed ground. You get the picture.
    I know that sometimes going to someone’s house and kidnapping them isn’t possible. I also know that, in the case of suicide success, you would do anything for 5 more minutes with your friend.
    My sister once told me how selfish I was being to want to take myself from the world. It’s not something I’ve ever repeated, because, yes, it’s selfish, but seriously, when you actively want to die, there isn’t a whole lot of selflessness left in you.
    Thanks for making me cry, Christa. We all know how much I love to do that.

      1. It was post diagnosis, post marriage failure, and I hated everything. I know my mom made a big deal when I was labeled as bipolar, but it’s a little less kosher to say “Mindy spent another week in the psych ward because she wants to die…
        I’m just thankful to be on the other side of it. I won’t let myself get that low again, ever.
        Everyone has their own load of shit to get through. Mine happened to be less socially acceptable. Even today, I don’t think or talk much about that time. I was very dark for a very long time. And it’s painful to remember.
        But you are right. Stop hiding it. Stop making people feel like they are alone in feeling the way they do.
        Love you.

  2. This is a perfect sum of my feelings for suicide. A friend-of-a-friend killed himself when I was in high school, and the mutual friend was my own best friend. Going through the next year was horrifying because it was always this waiting game to see if he would try and follow in the late young man’s foot steps. Often times I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream where he had sent me a last good bye text, and I stole my mothers car to try and get to his home in time to help. Thank you for putting this out there.

  3. I’ve been deeply touched by all of this, and I’ve been thinking some of the same thoughts about how helpless I feel and how much I want to reach out to help anyone in this situation. I can only hope that if anyone I love, especially someone close like my children, feels this way, that they would have a friend who wasn’t afraid to talk about it, to do something to help.

  4. I tried, last year. I was in a very bad place. Ultimately, my attempt failed.

    The hardest part was admitting what I’d done, and then seeking help.

    1. “I can be surrounded by people and be completely alone. It’s not like any of them really know me. I don’t even know if they like me half the time.”

      1. Trust me on this… You’re not as alone as you feel.
        I often wonder how many of my friends REALLY know me, not just the reflection of them that I give them.
        I do have a few, though. I hope you do too.

  5. There is nothing shameful about suicide. In fact it’s the last resort that we can use to offset the Universal unfairness. It starts when a human gets conceived. Nobody asks it what kind of parents it wants to have , what kind of race, culture or country it wants to belong. It was imposed on us whether we wanted it or not. And here you are, been dragging through your whole life squeezed by rules and conventions that you’ve never been asked to agree with. And we suffer because of it. Most of the people take it for granted. They toil away the whole life never even asking themselves why in the hell they are doing it. But let them be. I was born by parents that I came to hate very soon. They were drunks and constant fighting was my life. When I was discharged from the army my only possession was what I had on me. I’ve been working like an elephant for about twenty years and never had enough money to go on holiday because providence decided that I was to be born in poor country called Russia. By my forty I came to the final conclusion that my birth was in fact a big mistake. Because I hate the country I live in, that I don’t understand the people I forced by fate to be with and I don’t want to live in “cell” that was designated for me. My point is that if you were given the thing that you hadn’t asked for you have right to get rid of it any time you want. And if someone thinks that it’s a shame my reply is “I don’t give a shit”

  6. His family never denied anything about suicide, so I don’t feel like they are ignoring the issue, but neither are they actively posting since his discovery. I feel like they are addressing the wonderful aspects of David’s life while not dwelling on his (rather horrifyingly public) passing. My heart aches for them but I applaud them for searching and reaching out while there was a chance he would be found alive. RIP David Dreger.

  7. I wrote recently about a suicide in my city and my own experiences with standing on the bridge. I thank you for writing this, for continuing the necessary conversation.

  8. Three years ago, on my birthday (April 1), the first call I got was at 12:45a from my sister. I’d been working all night trying to meet some deadlines and wasn’t really up for the whole sibling “Ha ha, I called you first!” sort of thing, so I let it go to voicemail. A few minutes later, my dad (who happened to be staying with me at the time) knocked on my door. He walked in, and I was expecting the same little “Happy birthday.” … but instead, I heard this:

    “Christy just called me. Your mom shot herself in the head.”

    It took me a while to really collect myself. And to this day, it sticks with me more than I care to admit. For months afterwards, I never even addressed the subject. Not out of shame, but out of anger. Eventually, I did manage to pull my thoughts together and decided to share my thoughts and also to hopefully help anyone who might be listening and need to hear what I had to say. So I took to my blog and wrote a long, two-part piece. Even now, three years later, it still sums everything up best:

  9. Yeah, the silence around depression and suicide has to stop. It has to be ok to ask for help, with no shame attached. It has to be ok to acknowledge someone’s final actions truthfully. Just had a friend go in a pretty horrifying and public way this year. Still pissed at a lot of aspects of it all right now.

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