Dealing with Suicide

One week ago, an old friend of mine killed himself. He jumped in front of a train.

I had not seen him in almost a year, so I guess we weren’t really what I’d call friends anymore. For several reasons I’m not going to go into we barely acknowledged each other’s existence, though we went to high school together and knew each other pretty well. We actually met at a party last year and laughed about our depressions. It turned out we both had been diagnosed and were hospitalized into the same psych ward, just a couple of weeks apart, and were both on anti-depressants. He was drinking that night. Remembering something about the possibility of unforeseen side effects, I wasn’t, and went home early.

He was always the more fatalistic and bipolar type. Having incredible heights, there were times he was convinced he could achieve anything, followed by lows of equal magnitude. I know it is crude to talk bad about a dead person, but I always imagined him drinking himself to death by accident or something. Never him committing suicide, though. Nothing ‘active’. At least not that violent and public. I don’t know what state of mind he was in, only that he was out with friends of his, drinking, the night before. While I know he still was being treated, I am not sure about the specific type of drug. I can only guess how depressed he was by third-hand stories. Ultimately we can’t look into people’s heads (yet), but somehow that still isn’t a satisfying answer to the why.

I don’t know how to deal with this. No feelings, no tears from me. But I do feel very sorry for his family and loved ones. I think no one should ever have to experience this kind of pain.

I do know that I, during a particularly terrible depressive episode of mine, had suicidal thoughts. But I now know those were more self-loathing and whining about what-ifs and feeling sorry for myself than making actual plans. I think that’s not how this works anyway. As I understand it, people suffering from severe depression sometimes reach a point where they’re actually convinced that they are doing everyone a favor by ending their life.

Talking about depression isn’t easy due to social stigma, but it is a real mental illness someone can’t just ‘snap out’ of without the help of others. As Wil Wheaton put it:

So, please, if you or someone you know suffer from Depression — with or without thoughts of suicide — please talk to someone, and get help from a doctor.