I think the biggest problem I have with the death of my ex is that the question still lingers in my mind: "Was it suicide or was it an accident?" If it was a suicide, that would mean that he couldn't go on with his life and couldn't handle it. His father was horribly abusive, and that was the only support system he had aside from us, his group of friends. If it was an accidental death, that would mean that his life got cut short unintentionally on his part. I thought about this for weeks.. I didn't know, and I'll probably never know. This fact I have to be okay with. I have to work with what I know and try not to dwell on the guilt.
It was March of 2011, and I was at school when I heard he had died. I ignored the thought for the rest of my day, but as soon as I got home, I needed to know what happened. Our friend told me it was drug-related. Perhaps he wasn't in the best condition the last time we saw him, but he had made a declaration that he was going to change things around. We were all 17, and emotional about almost everything. There might have been warning signs to his possible depression and I might not have seen them. I've thought about every interaction I had with him, and I can never come up with a good enough reason. It always seemed like he was slowly getting better with his drug dependencies and optimism level. I've also had the fleeting thought that perhaps he wouldn't have accepted my help even if I had known and had tried to help him.
I always had a very gross, Hollywood view of suicide before it occurred in my life to the people I cared about. I idolized a lot of celebrities that had killed themselves, and now I realize how much that's not okay. I've had a very strong realization lately of how real and how permanent suicide is, and how much it can affect the people who knew the person. You never know how suicide will affect you, even if you don't think you had that strong of a bond with this person, until it happens.
People use suicide as a careless figure of speech. I was sitting with a mutual friend after my ex had passed, and a friend called me up, casually exclaiming: "The White Stripes broke up... I'm going to fucking kill myself, this is the worst thing ever!" This friend had no idea that the friend sitting next to me would take offense to such a careless statement that he didn't think twice about saying. Some people don't quite understand how much statements like these can affect people. This illuminates the misunderstanding of mental illness in our society; it trivializes the experiences of those who truly struggle.
Two years after my ex had passed, my phone rang. It was my father. He confided in me that a good friend of his had taken her own life. He was the maintenance worker at the building she resided in, so he was the one who opened the door in order to let the police inside. The sight of finding his friend's body rattled him. Shortly after this phone call, we got together in person. My father and I don't have a typical father/daughter relationship, and we only talk maybe a few times a year. I remember this meeting as the first encounter I had of a conversation with someone who had also been affected this much by suicide, and it brought us closer together.
Presently, I've learned to deal with what's given to me, and I don't try to speculate too much these days. This experience, among others have taught me not to. This is officially the first time I've written in this manner about this stuff, so I'm not that great at it. It's important to keep an open mind about suicide and those who suffer from suicidal depression. Blaming yourself or blaming the other person/their choice is not fair. Although there are universal signs, each individual case and person is vastly different. It's important to educate yourself and celebrate the lives of those who have passed in order to create effective change in the world. There is no cure: only understanding and compassion.
If you are suffering with suicidal depression, or know someone who is, in the United States please call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline or check Suicide.org for more numbers.
Kathryn's Note: I want to express my immense gratitude and thanks to Miss Kendra for allowing me to publish and share her story. We were both recently inspired to continue spreading awareness of mental illness and realize that we must start talking about these issues casually and candidly in order to bring about any change in the way our society perceives them. I hope this encourages others to reach out to their friends or family members suffering with depression and get a dialogue started.