Feel that place in the center of your chest. It’s hard, but pliable, right? It would be pretty difficult to get a knife through it, but that’s how Elliott Smith killed himself. He took a kitchen knife and used enough force to shred that protective sinew and stab himself in the heart. Twice. If you’re not familiar with how Elliott Smith made this world a better place, listen to this.
In spite of a heart that “bled white” with gorgeous words and melodies, the dude wanted to die. About 15 months ago, my nephew Ryan kicked a chair out from underneath him and died. The world is not a better place without Ryan. He had a kind heart and treated his cousin Kyle with a warm and understanding love. He wanted the world to be a better place for Kyle and he succeeded.
Just imagine someone you love wanting to die like that. Imagine your wife or sister swallowing a bottle of pills and never waking up, or your husband falling off to sleep in his car… running in a quiet, dark garage, feeling he had no hope left. No hope. Imagine your child planning… buying rope and learning how to tie it. My sister in law Tammy probably imagines that every day. She found her son and nothing she could say or do could bring him back.
It’s a cold fucking world sometimes and while most of us never contemplate a bridge jump or gun purchase, many do. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention states, “In the United States, a person dies by suicide every 15 minutes, claiming more than 34,000 lives each year. It is estimated that an attempt is made every minute; with close to one million people attempting suicide annually.”
On Saturday I made a donation to support Tammy’s participation in an AFSP “Out of the Darkness” community walk. Then last night I consoled a loved one worried a dear friend may be contemplating suicide. I hope my small gesture shakes some good karma for that good soul.
You never really know what anyone around you is facing in their life. Sometimes things seem OK, but a person may be hiding untold anguish while teetering on the rim of an infinite black hole encouraging them to step. All we can do is try to keep each other lifted up. That’s why we’re here. To listen. To smile. To tell a joke. To encourage. To love. You never know when the light of your kind gesture is illuminating someone’s reason to live.