The word itself stings – it seems harsh, wrong, untrue. It’s a word no one wants to talk about, one no one thinks can happen to someone close to them. It’s a swear word — a sick-to-your-stomach, punch-in-the-gut word.
After all, what could be so hard that someone would take their own life, right?
It’s real. Not real enough until it happens to someone close to you, though.
The words of the Clearfield-Jefferson Suicide Prevention Team “one is too many” have never held more true to me.
We do what we can, right? We try to be there for the people we love, even when we’re busy.
One day, I was worried about the latest diet fad or a work deadline. And the next day, just like that, I stepped outside into the fresh air, and felt nothing. My legs were weak, my head and my heart were pounding. The sunshine didn’t feel so real, and I couldn’t catch my breath — you were gone.
I couldn’t help but think, what could I have done, been a better friend, lent a helping hand on a hard day, or an ear when everyone’s backs were turned? The tears came and came, and the guilt seemed to stay... I couldn’t believe I didn’t do more.
We are all busy. We wake up in the morning and drink our coffee, we come home at night and take care of the house, our spouse, our kids and our animals, forgetting about the rest of the world. We turn down plans because we’re tired, we lose touch with old friends because times have changed — it’s just the way it is.
It’s not good enough.
We pass judgement on the people who post things on Facebook about depression or anxiety or whatever it may be. Instead, we worry about petty things, like what we’re going to eat for lunch or the latest selfie that earns a “like.”
It’s not good enough.
A smile does not mean everything is okay. One Facebook post is not everyone’s story. The person you held the door open for this morning, they may have just experienced a tragedy, or come from church where they prayed for a friend. The coworker who is quiet or lashing out, they cry themselves to sleep every night, fight to get out of bed at sunrise, and you could almost care less.
Not good enough.
We see comments on public platforms every day — negative, heartless comments that qualify as cyber bullying, yet they never stop, even when a heart does. When did we become a world full of such disregard?
Judgement is a powerful thing — ugly, fat, skinny, poor, rich, depressed, mentally ill — whatever you are, it’s often labeled, ridiculed, ignored or put down. Just know that the words that casually roll off your tongue could be the end for someone.
Ironically, just a year ago, the person about whom I write gave me a miniature angel figure with the words “Good friends are like stars, often unseen, but you know they’re there,” as well as a card congratulating me on my new job.
I know you’re there, dear friend, and I wish I would’ve been, too. But I will strive to be your voice, to be the end of what you went through.
There is help. For anyone and everyone who struggles to feel the warmth of the sunshine and to find the good in a harsh world — there is help.
These Kenny Chesney song lyrics come to mind: “Sunny days seem to hurt the most, I wear the pain like a heavy coat, I feel you everywhere I go.”
All I can do is be an advocate for all the people still fighting these battles, each and every day. You are not alone. The sun will rise again, and in me, you always have a friend.
“One” is far too many — one daughter, one friend, one mother, one hurting heart. Today, I will do everything I can to make sure “one” never happens again.
To get help, visit www.1istoomany.org or call the Clearfield-Jefferson Suicide Prevention hotline at 1-800-341-5040.
Brianne Fleming is a staff writer for the Courier Express. She makes her home in Falls Creek.