Many of us who have experienced severe depression for an extended period of time have considered suicide. It can feel like a solution when we’ve tried and tried and can’t find our way out of the darkness. Sometimes we think we’ll be doing a favor to our families, who we feel are burdened by our depression.
Today I experienced a horrible reminder of what suicide really means. My mother called me early this morning to tell me that my cousin’s son shot himself last night. He didn’t die right away, so my cousin had to sit beside him at the hospital, hold his hand, and tell the doctors that it was okay to remove life support. Daniel was a beautiful young man, 29 years old, who had experienced a difficult life and enormous challenges getting free from his drug addiction. We all thought he was doing better. He was recently married and had a eight-month-old son.
The loss is enormous. My cousin is devastated at the loss of his only son. He had hired Daniel at the family business and was helping him get his life back again.
My aunt and uncle already lost one of their sons to an early heart attack, at age 37, and in some ways my uncle never recovered from that. I am very worried about their ability to cope with the loss of their grandson.
I haven’t met Daniel’s wife, but how must she feel, married to him for less than two years?
His baby boy will grow up with no memories of him. But he will surely think something like, “Why didn’t my father love me enough to stay around? Didn’t he realize I would need him?” Daniel also has an eight-year-old daughter from an earlier relationship. Her loss is catastrophic. She will remember her father, and she will remember this day forever.
My aunt and my mother are asking themselves, “Is there anything we could have done?” I’m sure Daniel’s father and grandparents are thinking the same. The shock, the loss, and the painful questions are going to last for years.
I know I’m not saying anything new. You all know this. But if you ever start to forget, in the depths of your depression, that you are important and that the loss of your life would cause great pain, please remember that there are many, many people who care for you. You might not realize it in the moment. I hadn’t seen Daniel for a couple of years, and I’m sure he had no idea how sad I would feel today. He had no idea that I would have done whatever I could to help him, if only I knew. There are no doubt people in your life who feel the same, even though you don’t see it in any given moment.
Your life matters. If your life is painful, it can get better. This is true even if it has been painful for a long time. Your life matters. It matters to people you might not have thought about for a while. It matters to your family, even if you have argued with them. Your life matters to the world–please remember that.