Another post I was hesitant to write… and post.
On May 17th, my friend and neighbor was found dead in his apartment. I was the last phone call he made in the middle of the night of May 3rd. The call was hard to understand and mentioned something about calling the police. Before doing that, I tried to call him back several times, but the phone went straight to voicemail. I called the police. I told them I was unsure what was going on… no one came out.
The next morning I started going through recent texts and tried to determine what was going on. I still could not get ahold of him, and when I knocked on the door, there was no answer. He had been struggling with depression, and our messages over a couple of months had gone from friendly, to him being upset about various things, to silence, then friendship again, then more desperation from him. I immediately began worrying if something had happened. Had he done something? Days passed. I did not see him outside smoking and I did not see his car leave. I asked the other neighbor if they had seen or spoken to him, and they confirmed that it had been about a week. A few people told me that because of his up and down messages, I should not try to contact him or get into his apartment. But I just knew. In the pit of stomach, I knew.
When I came home one late afternoon on the 17th, there were 4 police cars outside and officers walking back and forth. I saw a key in his door and frantically asked the officers what happened. I said I was his friend upstairs and asked if he was dead. At first, the officer said he could not tell me anything because there was now an investigation. I asked about suicide. Then again about whether or not he was alive. Slowly, he shook his head “no.” I fell to the ground crying from sorrow and guilt. I kept saying, “I knew it!” They said they had planned to talk to me and could they ask me some questions. It was not until a few weeks later that I fully understood what happened.
Originally, I assumed he had overdosed, which heightened my guilt: if I had been more persistent about the police responding when I called on the 3rd, could he have been saved? Then I received a text from his sister saying that he had actually shot himself that night and left a note. It was addressed to “brothers, sisters, mom and dad, Laura in # (I’ll leave out my apartment number). For sure, he had been suffering greatly. I knew this. I knew of relationship troubles and his constant feeling of loneliness. And all along, I thought something had happened. Why didn’t I check on him? Was I afraid of what I would find? Did I not want to believe that could have been what happened? I still cannot answer these questions.
I attended his funeral. I went home. I felt so many things that at times I couldn’t feel anything.
I understand loneliness, depression, heartache. I have known many people now who have taken their own lives, and I understand this tragedy as well. I have come in contact with people who are cold towards it, calling these lost lives “selfish,” “unwilling to get help,” and more. But this is a lack of compassion and understanding that I cannot comprehend. Every life is precious, and every loss is a tragedy, especially those whos deaths are sudden.
If you know anyone who is suffering, even if you do not think suicide is anywhere possible, stop. Reach out. They need you more than you will ever know.