About ten years ago, when I was teaching public speaking at a school in Canton, Ohio, I had a female student I’ll never forget. She was going through a deep depression and was suicidal. She told me that she’d attempted suicide twice by throwing herself under a bus. Both attempts had obviously failed. I advised her to see a psychologist as soon as possible. The memory of the 18-year-old girl was permanently etched into my mind because of the strangeness of her suicide attempts.
Last week, I ran into the girl. I recognized her face, but did not connect her to those sad circumstances right away.
“Hello,” I said.
“Do I know you?” she asked.
“I think you were one of my students.”
“What’s your name?” she asked.
I told her my name, and she remembered me. She told me her name, which I didn’t recall. Then, she said, “I was having some really hard times back then.” When she said that, it all came back to me. I realized she was the same student who had attempted suicide twice. “But I’m great now,” she said. Then, our reunion got even happier. She continued, “I’m buying some sundresses to wear at Disney World. I’m going to Florida tomorrow.”
From deep depression to Disney World. “That’s how life works,” I said.
“Yep,” she said. “The good with the bad.”
Reader, I’m sharing this with you because it can never be stated often enough. If you’re suicidal, don’t do it. Your situation will change if you can just wait things out.
My father died by suicide. He held on for many months, suffering from major depression, but on a cold day in March in 1982, he took his own life.
If he could have refrained from taking his own life, his situation would have eventually changed for the better. I firmly believe this. He would have gotten on better medication. He would have found a new job. Maybe he would have taken up alcohol and become an alcoholic, but at least, he’d be alive.
I’m reminded of Stephen Sondheim’s “I’m Still Here,” a song which narrates a long life of major ups and downs, but through it all, the singer reminds us that she’s still here.
I’ve been truly suicidal twice in my life. The first time was when I was in my twenties, and I was dating an extremely controlling man. He had taken me out to a beautiful restaurant with delicious food and fancy tablecloths. There were even ice sculptures carved into the shapes of lovely swans. But I was so miserable because he had my future mapped out for me; we were going to marry, and I was going to have his children. I felt as if I was with a kidnapper, and there was no Stockholm syndrome going on.
The second time was just after my first bout of cancer. My oncologist put me on a new anti-cancer med that had a possible side effect of making people suicidal. God, I just wanted to die.
So I know what it feels like to want to take my life, but by the grace of God, I never have tried. I’ve had the wherewithal to get myself out of these situations. In the first case, I ditched the crazy guy, and in the second case, I stopped taking the meds.
I held on until things changed.
I also knew how terrible suicide is on families and friends due to the death of my father. He put us through horrible times, and I wouldn’t want to do that to my family and people I love.
It’s an awful feeling to be abandoned by a parent. In many ways, you never get over it.
So reader, if you’re feeling suicidal, hold on. Your situation will eventually change, and the sun will come out.
Who knows? You might find yourself in a new outfit drinking a cocktail in Disney World.
It could happen.