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From Darkness, Comes Light: September is Suicide Prevention Month

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Scrolling through Facebook, I saw a post about Suicide Prevention Month.

Ten years ago if someone brought up suicide, it was a taboo thought filled with stigma. Now it is the norm. We hear someone passed, and more often than not we think suicide as the first reason. I strongly believe being in active addiction is slow suicide. The post flooded me with a lot of emotions. I immediately knew I wanted to write a blog about a particular way suicide touched my life. 

It was a dark and cloudy day in California. We were just waiting for the rain to pour down on us. Two of my friends and I were driving around town on a mission. One of our friends had disappeared. Her phone was off, and we hadn’t had contact with her for a considerable amount of time. All of us are in recovery and have battled addiction for years. We knew that someone going MIA usually indicates a relapse. We also have learned after relapse, loneliness consumes us. We wanted to be able to support our friend in need. 

We really had no idea where to start looking for her. We went to every gas station and bar we could think of. Every place we entered with the hope to hear, “Yes we have seen her.” And every place we heard “no,” without feeling and compassion. They had no idea through our “recovery” eyes, a relapse is potential suicide. Our hearts were being beaten, place by place. Our friend had battled mental health issues over the years. We shared a lot of similarities with trauma and seeking help from mental health professionals. Deep down I knew this could not only be a potential relapse but a mental breakdown or worse. In the midst of all the madness of running around, I opened up my Facebook. I see that my friend had posted a lengthy goodbye letter. My heart sank. The emotion spilled through every sentence and included pictures in her past. I immediately read out loud and showed the post to my friends. The energy completely shifted in that article post. We all went into complete flight mode. 

My friend broke the monotonous silence. She stated a few weeks back she was driving with our friend, and she stated if she was to kill herself it would be at the train tracks and then proceeded to point them out. It was a whim, but we had to check. It was about 30 minutes away. We ran every red light on the way. Halfway there we decided we need to reach out to the police. We had no idea if she would be there, we had no credible evidence, but we also knew we couldn’t handle this on our own. We finally made it to the tracks, the police hadn’t arrived yet. We jetted out of the car and it started raining. We couldn’t find her. We decided to run along the tracks hoping to see her at some point along the way. We saw the cops behind us as we were running soaked on the gravel. 

After about a half of a mile, we found her lying under a bush next to the tracks. She was alive, but she refused to move. She was furious that we found her. We ruined her plan. She wanted nothing to do with us. Her soul was dead. Tears were flowing out of everyone’s eyes. The cops finally caught up with us. The tension with everyone was explosive. The cops separated us from her and we waited by the side of the tracks. The emotions we felt were indescribable. As we were being interviewed by the police a train went across those very tracks. At that moment, we all realized if we were 15 minutes later, the ending of the story would be fatal. The ambulance took her away, and the three of us were left emotionally broken and unwell. 

We were angry, sad, and broken. We really did not know how to deal with the aftermath. The terms we left the situation was not good. The three of us become inseparable in the following weeks. Still, now, we are inseparable and I am thankful they are apart of my life. We were able to openly talk about our emotions popping up. We knew we had to put our recovery first. We increased our work in the recovery community. We knew staying busy was key. We knew that our friend had a stay at the hospital and then headed to treatment for her mental and substance disorders. Our anger turned into gratitude. We were at peace knowing she was in a safe place. This helped with us being able to move forward. 

I knew prior to starting this blog, that I needed to reach out to my friend and make sure she was okay with me sharing this personal story. I was honestly very scared to bring the past up with her. I wasn’t sure if it would trigger her, or my friends by bringing up the subject. To my surprise, she was fully on board with the blog. She explained that her addiction and suicidal thoughts, ran side by side. When things would start to go downhill, the feeling of loneliness ensued. In turn, she started to not take her prescription as prescribed. She stressed the importance of following physician’s orders and prescriptions. Seeking help is key. Letting your feelings out is key. Loneliness can turn into a fatal downhill spiral. 

We were able to catch up on life! Mentally, physically, and spiritually she is doing amazing. She is in a wonderful relationship and got a house. She was elated to tell me all the good things going on. She went on to tell me about her job. She works in a hospice care unit. I got chills when I heard this. Here was a person trying to leave in darkness, and now she has the opportunity to help people leave in light. Full Circle. 

Suicide is becoming more normalized than ever. This does not have to be apart of your story. If you are having suicidal thoughts, please seek help. You are not alone. People do care. Be Well. 

National Suicide Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Chris McMullen is an advocate for the LGBT community, sexual assault awareness, and recovery. He uses his own experience, and wisdom as a platform to help others.

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