A few years ago I lost a friend to suicide and whilst it is not something I often talk about, it is something that I think about everyday. Sometimes when suicide is mentioned it can be brushed over and simplified. The person died full stop, but there is no full stop, the person’s death is devastating and the pain continues for the rest of their friend’s and families lives. It makes me angry when suicide is romanicised. There is nothing romantic about your best friend crying until they are sick. There was nothing romantic about me laying flowers whilst the media watched on, I couldn’t even have privacy to say goodbye! I have seen some posts on social media saying, “They will love me when I’m gone” and so on. No, they love you now whilst you are alive to have a hug or a conversation with them, when you die you won’t know that people love you, that people talk about you. You won’t know the whirl of confusion, sadness, anger and pain that you leave behind. There is nothing romantic about dying, romance only exists in the living.
I blame myself, of course I do. I spoke to my friend the day before they died and I had absolutely no idea how they were feeling, it was the biggest shock when I got the text less than 48 hours after we spoke telling me that my friend had gone. That conversation will haunt me forever, I have played it in my head thousands of times and picked up on the potential hint, the hint that I did nothing about and the unanswered questions I have that will never get answered. Could I have done something different? Could I have saved their life? I’m not alone in these feelings of blame, I imagine everyone who knew my friend feels the same. Could we have done more?
My friend’s face didn’t disappear from the photographs, it just made each of those happy memories painful. It makes remembering the fun times sad. Some days I don’t want to remember, I don’t want to remember that I wasn’t there in the weeks or months running up to their death because I was in hospital. I can’t handle that hanging over me. I don’t like to think about the pain I may have caused them. ‘If it was my fault then maybe I should die’ is a thought that has happened a lot.
I have felt so many different things about my friend’s death. There’s the ‘it should have been me’ feelings. The guilt that I am alive and my friend isn’t. There’s the anger at my friend because my friend has the potential to become anything they so wished to be, they were clever enough to be a doctor, kind enough to be a charity worker. The world was their oyster and they threw it away and maybe if they would’ve hung on a year or two their life would’ve really taken off and they would be glad that they didn’t die. I’ve felt sad that I can never have a conversation with them again, I will never walk through town and bump into them. The months following their suicide I saw their face in everyone and then I’d remember and be locked in a public toilet sobbing. Sometimes I feel glad that my friend is at peace but mostly I feel confused. I will never know why, I will never know what our friendship would’ve become, whether what they told me was a hint or a coincidence.
I understand though, I’ve been there thinking that I couldn’t stand another minute of this life. I’ve tried to end my life but there will always come a time after my survival when I feel glad that I am alive. They are temporary feelings, unbearable I know, but temporary and I just wish I could have told my friend that.
I don’t think I’ll ever get over it, it’s already been years and it plays on my mind as much as it always has. In a way it is worse now, I’m worried I’ve forgotten what their voice sounds like. I dread to think what it is like for my friend’s immediate family. Losing someone to suicide is horrific, painful and full of unanswered questions. It’ll stay with me for the rest of my life and the worst thing is I will never know why.
If you have lost someone to suicide, you may find these links helpful:
If you are feeling suicidal, please seek help: