Thursday, August 5, 2010

Help. Thursday, August 5, 2010.

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can't help them, at least don't hurt them.” – Dalai Lama

You would think, having survived a suicide attempt, that I would be able to stop others from doing what I did.

After all, I know how it feels to want to die – or rather, to want the pain to stop in the only way you can imagine it will. I know how it feels to look into the future and see only darkness, to pray to a God that doesn’t seem to answer, to wrestle with pain that threatens to be never-ending.

And now I have a friend who wants to die. She wants to die so badly she’s attempted to take her life several times in the short time I’ve known her.

Because of the Facebook circles I travel in, I know a lot of people who are suicidal, and I’ve communicated with them on many occasions. But I’ve gotten to know this young woman particularly well, even though it’s in cyberspace.

We’ve talked not just about suicide, but about lots of things friends talk about – our families, our talents, our fears, TV shows and the things that make us happy. She’s a writer, like me; she’s smart, like me; and she has a wicked-dark sense of humor, like me. So maybe that’s why we click even though we’ve never met face-to-face. I can honestly call her a “friend” – not just in the Facebook sense, but “IRL.”

My friend has suffered trauma in her life – not just once or twice, but on multiple occasions over many years. Just dealing with one or two of her traumas would cause most people to be depressed. I can’t imagine someone suffering as many traumas as my friend has and not have the idea of suicide cross his mind.

Nothing can erase those experiences from my friend’s life. But there is hope for her. Many people care for her, and many people have been praying for her. Inpatient treatment has been made available, but my friend chose not to stay in the facility. Therapists have worked with her, but she’s not honest with them about the depth of her depression and her unrelenting wish to die. She treats herself poorly, the way she’d never treat a friend – or probably a stranger, for that matter.

I care about my friend, and I want her to live. If she dies, she’ll leave an empty spot in my life – and in the lives of many others. She knows how I feel about her, and other people have expressed their feelings as well. But my friend decided a long time ago that she’s worthless, that she’s not worthy of life. And so our words fall on deaf ears.

When I attempted to take my life, I did not feel I was making a “choice.” I even wrote at the top of my suicide note, “THIS IS NOT A CHOICE.” Today, I see that it was – a strange kind of choice, different from other kinds of choices in that it’s borne of desperation, a “choice” made when there seem to be no other choices.

But I want to open up my magic bag of anti-suicide tricks and tell my friend that she does have a choice, that there are resources available to help her, that there are people who care for her deeply. There is a door for my friend, but I can’t walk through it on her behalf, and neither can anyone else. She needs to be the one to walk through it, or decide to leave it closed.

How I hope she will decide to open the door and find the treasure that is on the other side.

“You were not a mistake, for all your days are written in My book.” Psalm 139:15-16

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