I usually try and refrain from serious and/or depressing subjects when writing here, but in this case I felt that the importance of the subject warranted further examination. A couple days ago, a dear friend of ours attempted suicide by shooting herself in the head. We have yet to hear whether or not she has survived, and if she has, what sort of damage has resulted.
I know I just delivered this news in a rather detached and clinical way. Is this because I don’t care? Quite the opposite, in fact. The situation is so horrifying and heart-wrenching that I find myself quite unable to deal with it. This friend of ours is a total delight. Her energy and spirit always fill up any room she enters, and her empathy and sense of humor are remarkably uplifting. In short, she is adored. Not to trivialize her circumstances, but I feel as if I have undergone some sort of trauma myself, to have the memory of this lovely woman forcefully ripped from my mind and replaced with the intruding knowledge of what has befallen her.
In our country, suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death, ahead of liver disease and Parkinson’s. It outnumbers homicides two to one. Worldwide, a full one million people die at their own hands every year. I can’t decide what I think of these statistics. Is life so seemingly futile for so many people that they feel they must end it? As one who has suffered from depression in the past, I can understand some of what it feels like, though I was never in the pit of despair that others sometimes experience. So, what does it feel like? I describe it as being inside with sunglasses on. Everything you see is dim, and even the bright spots in your life are considerably dulled. If you have ever accidentally worn your sunglasses inside, you know that it can be challenging to see things clearly.
I thought about this friend just the other day, only a few short days before it happened. I thought, “I need to call her, see what she’s up to.” If I had followed through on that thought, what would I have heard on the other end of the phone? Would I have heard her pain, or would I have continued on, unaware, wrapped in my own self-serving pursuits as I am most days? It’s hard to say.
Is there a lesson in all this? I hope so. I hope that somewhere in this seeming black hole, there is some small ray of light trying to escape. I don’t yet know what it might be, but I still hold out hope that it’s there. God would not let such a tragedy occur without at least some small gain for His glory.
Please pray for her and her family.