What You Left Behind (TW Suicide)

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Three weeks ago, you decided the world was better off without you. I don’t know what was going on. The very small circle of people who knew what you were going through kept your struggles quiet from the world. Maybe if more people had been let in, they could have supported you. I understand wanting to not bother anyone or bring them down, but some weights are too heavy to bear alone, and in the end they’ll crush you.

Circumstances don’t drive people to end their lives, feelings do. I try to imagine what you said about yourself–I’ve been there before, I have some ideas. You had a soulmate in your girlfriend, a decent relationship with your family, and a good job with a great company. You had really interesting hobbies and an active social life. There was nothing “wrong” with your life, so what was it? Depression is a very convincing liar that can darken any circumstances. My guess is something like this: “I am so depressed, when I have no reason to be. This will never get better because my situation is already great on paper. I am so ungrateful, I’m a waste of a good life. I am crushing my girlfriend with my depression. She’d be better off without me. I don’t want to put it on my friends, my role is as a light in their lives. I am replaceable at work. My family will heal. I am not as good as everyone seems to believe anyhow. I’m doing this world a favor.” But I guess no one will ever know what ultimately drove you to leave the world behind.

Now you’re gone. In your wake, you’ve left a young woman who lost her soulmate of 6 years, who will never recover from the trauma of finding the love of her life dead in their apartment. You left a hole in your family of 4 that will never be filled. You left your parents to bury a child, a horror no parent should have to face. You left a brother without his brother. You left behind dozens of friends who turned up at your memorial, all of whom spoke of your infectious smile, sense of humor, unwavering kindness, and big heart. You left behind a dog that you adopted from your favorite rescue organization, and you left a hole in their volunteer roster. You left behind a room full of musical instruments and a kitchen full of exotic ingredients, things you once used to bring other people joy, that are now just things. You left behind unanswered questions, questions so deep there are no words to ask them. You left behind the potential for so much more, not because of things you would have done, but just because you lived.

You did not make the world a better place by leaving. You made it a better place when you were here. I hate that you couldn’t see that, I hate that you didn’t want to let others in to show you. Your suicide didn’t solve anything, it prevented the possibility of things getting better. What I really hate though, is that you’re not alone. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in men under 45. You left behind a few hundred people whose lives you brightened, but you also contributed to the ranks of men who couldn’t handle the pressures the world put on them. I’d like to think this could make a difference and start conversations, and in small circles it might, but society will remember you as another tally mark in the column of men who couldn’t suffer in silence anymore. Maybe they’ll say “what a shame,” or maybe they’ll say “what a coward;” but they won’t talk about how nearly 50,000 people lose their lives to suicide every year in the US alone because they don’t want to think about it, and that might be the greatest tragedy of all.

You left behind a legacy of love, kindness, and enjoyment of life. You did not simply fade out of existence, and you didn’t make life easier for your loved ones. You will always be loved and missed. Time will heal wounds in those you left behind, but their scars will hurt until their lives conclude as well.

I believe I’ll see you again someday, and maybe then we can sit down and talk about what happened. For now, the final thing you left behind is reminders: tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone; you never know what the person next to you is struggling with; don’t wait to hang out with your friends; don’t hesitate to tell your family you love them; remember what’s important–work, bills, and other responsibilities get put on hold in death as love gets pushed to the forefront; and lastly, as alone as you may feel, there are people all around you who would have gladly held your hand to try to ease some of your pain. Reach out, you never know who’s waiting.


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