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.

To me.

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.


Anonymous said...

good advice.

Hope said...

My first male friend in AA committed suicide 10 years ago. I still remember the scream that came from my gut when we got the call. We were the ones to get his belongings from the police. Haunts me still.

Thank you for your kind comments on my blog. I sat there in a mixture of smiling and wanting to cry at the same time. Your words meant a lot to me. As do you.

wilsonian said...

I am so sorry for your loss, Steve. And so sorry for the lingering pain. I know you don't need me to tell you this, but you really weren't the straw... it wasn't your fault.

I am grateful that you've invested so much of your life in listening to those who hurt. You've been a healing agent for so many... I pray that you find healing in this too.

Love you.

ScottyO said...

Thank you Steve,

You have been an inspiration to me, I have started blogging on Google as well. God is good, but so dang hard to understand at times....

My prayers are with you and your's... I have my views on suicide as well.... I just can't think that someone has full understanding of what is available to them when they commit it, and I have a hard time accepting that the pain isn't the true cause of death... anyway... I am rambling.

God's peace,

Scott Olson

Birdie said...

April 18 was the 36th anniversary of my father's suicide. He finally lost his battle with alcohol. Every year I face that date and remember the call that came to me, a freshman in college. Moments like this are defined by before and after.

All of us in the family began to take on the burden of cause. It took me many years to accept that there was nothing I could have done differently to change the outcome. I don't have that kind of control over another person's actions. We cannot understand suicide because we have made the choice to live. I will never understand why.

All of us should always be alert to someone in need and do what is within reason to help. (I choose the phrase "within reason" because we would have endless possibilities if we try to do whatever we can. We simply cannot accept that burden of responsibility.) We can only hope that we will say what is right and do what is right within our capacity to do so.

May God give strength to those who are desperate, so they can reach out for help. And may we all find the hope that comes from His awesome grace.


P.S. I finally started a blog. Come visit sometime.

Bear Me Out said...

January 1986. David. My best friend. Because he could not deal with being gay. He felt trapped. So I have come to learn, after his death. And we were so close. In love? If only we had spoken the word. If only.

I miss him still.