Friday, May 02, 2008
Hold on, indeed
I saw it first on Erin's blog. Then I followed the link to Patchouli's. Both postings crushed my soul, it seems.
Suicide. Not one, but two.
Each time I hear of someone who has taken their own life, I am swept back to April 8, 1990. Palm Sunday. I'd spent the night advising a youth-group overnighter, and got the call from my then-wife that my dear friend Skip Bevens was missing.
And then, when I got home, I got the call that he'd been found.
I vaguely remember the rest. How it seemed impossible to even imagine. How it seemed that the phone suddenly weighed a thousand pounds. Going downtown, to what was then the Toledo Safety Building. The numbness. How everything just went gray, at least in my mind. I remember the memorial service, when the family who had rejected him were wondering why he would do this. I remember the priest trying to talk about mental illness, and part of my mind denying that my friend was "crazy" and hoping at the same time that he was - that this was not some conscious act of saying "Screw you!" to the world. To his friends and loved ones.
I remembered how we had parted, a week and a half earlier. It had not been a happy encounter; in retrospect, it looked like the straw that broke the camel's back. All I knew was that everyone - everyone - had gotten a suicide letter. Everyone, that is, except me.
In this wave of emotional recollection, I have to share with you the wise words of my friend Erin. These are the words I wish I had written:
Today is the day to check in with those you know. Do you know someone who just hasn't been themselves lately? Call them. Go out for coffee. Be ready to listen. Has someone just dropped out of the picture? Find them. Today is the 30th of the month, and thousands face foreclosure of their homes tomorrow. Is someone you know facing homelessness? Invite them home. If you are afraid that someone you know might harm themselves, make a call to get them help.
Pray. Listen. If God brings someone to your mind and heart, make a call. If you can't reach them, call again. And again.
If you are reading this, and you have been thinking of taking your life, hold on. Call someone. Email me. Just hold on.
Amen, and amen, Erin. You preach it, sister.