Monday, October 19, 2009

Learning from Tragedy

Today, I learned that someone who graduated with me from high school committed suicide. I haven't seen him in years. I think I've ran into him maybe 2 or 3 times since I graduated. We weren't good friends, but I wouldn't hesitate to include him as one of my friends. He was always a good guy. Not overly bright, but he had a good heart. He always seemed like a happy person, so the news that he took his own life is shocking.

People always try to look for reasons or come to some sort of understanding when things like this happen. I certainly can't make any sense of it. I always thought he was one of those guys that had everything you could ask for. He was a good person. He was good looking and athletic. He had bulging biceps and shredded abs since he was 12 years old. He played basketball with me in middle school. Mind you, he had absolutely no basketball skills whatsoever. He was on the team because he was just about the most athletic kid you've ever seen. I'm fast. He made me look like I'm standing still. He could run, jump, and play defense... and that's all we asked him to do. He was happy to contribute however he could.

He was a police officer in a neighboring town, and from all reports, he did a very good job. I used to joke around with friends that I'd feel bad for the criminal that tried to run away from him. Unless you were Usain Bolt, you weren't outrunning him.

A "self-inflicted gunshot wound" is how the newspaper worded it. All my friends on Facebook immediately posted how it was a tragedy. They said things like "RIP" and "we'll miss you." You know... the standard things everyone says when someone dies. I couldn't help but think that if all of us had showed him how much we cared about him when he was alive, he may have not wanted to end his life.

Why do we always wait until after someone dies to show an outpouring of love and support? I'm guilty of this as anyone else. We take so many things and so many people for granted. We fight over little, insignificant things. We don't make enough of an effort to support the people we care about. Then we talk about how it's such a tragedy when someone decides to take his own life at such a young age.

I think it's a tragedy too... a tragedy that we weren't good enough friends to at least try to help him overcome his problems. I'm sorry that I didn't know he was having such great personal troubles. He was a good guy. He always treated others with decency and respect. A part of me feels like we failed him.

I don't believe in heaven or hell, so I can't make such throw-away statements as "I hope he's in a better place now." If things were really that bad for him that he felt the only option he had was to end his life, I can only say I'm sorry. I hope we remember the good in him and strive to cherish the friends we have.


Anonymous said...

Suicide is as sad as someone else taking a life, except the victim is the perpetrator. It's a mystery of conflicting ideas and how to resolve or reconcile; those left wonder what they could have done differently to help change a person's life decision.

I am sorry that you feel bad.

Is there any way that a person can know someone's at risk of suicide? Major stressors upset the balance of neurotransmitters, and am inclined to think at these times if we could watch that others are getting sleep, and talking and listening, and getting exercise, and doing something productive, that's about all we can do as humans. Unless, someone has other ideas.

Sometimes I wonder what my six years plus of 'pharmacy school' (or professional health career training) taught me about mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy humans.

I guess it's something wise elders of society attempt to tell us, and then we have to find out for ourselves. My Catholic upbringing, tells me many answers are recounted in the New Testament. That tempered with my spouse's Buddhist upbringing and Shintoism, reminds me that it's something universally experienced no matter who writes the story. A sense of loss, a void, a hope that a legacy can be realized by those left.

pharmacy chick said...

I can't begin to get into HIS head but as a person who has had depression I can tell you what has been in my own head. Rationalization is out the window. you can tell yourself you have the greatest life in the world. You can put the pros and cons on a piece of paper and show yourself that the pros seriously outweigh the cons, but when you are depressed, you cannot make yourself believe it. you feel like shit all the time, and that the world would be a better place without you in it, even if it was only to give in to the despair that you are feeling at the moment. There is no sense to it. You didn't fail him. Many never let on the seriousness of their despair and self loathing. We can be very convincing liars, but fall apart when we are alone. Outwardly we can act very happy. WE dont always act depressed and sad. But the overwelming temptation is "get me out of here!!" Have I thought about suicide. yes. Have I considered it enough to go thru with I've promised my family that if I ever get that low again, I'd seek help.

Probably a lot more than you wanted to know, hope it helped.