I had a wonderful friend named Steve who was intelligent, quirky and fun. He was my boss for a time, my work colleague for 18 years. We shared many a cup of coffee together, and he and his wife were so supportive of me during a period of illness. Their friendship made a huge difference in my life.
In 2008, on April 27th, I received a phone call that shocked me to my core. Steve had died by suicide. I had seen him just the day before, but I was rushing to someplace that felt more important at the time, and I waved at him as I passed by. I was then–and continue to be–baffled by the choice he made. I became furious with him, furious with me, sad for him, and confused for me. Even now, I can see his wave. Why didn’t he talk to me? Or to our other friends? Or to anyone?
I finally realized I would never know. None of us would. I miss him.
Little did I know that this experience with Steve would prepare me for something even more devastating two years later. I received another phone call on July 10, 2010. My nephew Jessi had made the same choice. He was 23 years old, the father of two children. He was my sister’s youngest son, the younger brother to my niece and nephew.
Honestly, I don’t understand it anymore the second time around but I think I had developed more compassion by then. Necessary compassion. I flew back to Alberta for his funeral, I watched as his three-year old son observed everything. He and his younger sister will know their daddy only through stories and pictures.
I care about preventing suicide because nothing hurts more than the inability to fix it afterwards.