By Shae Hansen
I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while but I haven’t been able to pull myself together enough to do it. That’s because this subject, the lasting impact of suicide on loved ones, is so close to my heart. Even now I’m holding back tears and I haven’t even started getting to the personal part.
But OK, here I go.
Back in 2012 I was in a really rough place. I was 17 and I thought I knew everything. I was stubborn and I didn’t want to do anything except sleep all day and stay up all night. My parents had to drag me to school, and my best grade there was a D. One day my dad had had enough. We ended up getting into a fight that turned physical. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it out alive.
After that incident I was sent to live with my aunt and uncle. I felt abandoned, betrayed, unloved and unwanted.
It took me a few months to warm up to my aunt and uncle. However, I soon developed a very close relationship with them, my uncle in particular. They became like second parents to me. They treated me differently to how my actual parents did. They gave me more responsibilities and trust, and in return I flourished with them.
I finished my last year of high school while still living with them. This time my lowest grade was a B. I decided to leave for a trade school in Montana just three days after my high school graduation. By now I had also mended my relationship with my dad. Life was looking up for me and I was so excited.
A few weeks after I started at the school I got a text from my uncle saying that he missed me. I cried so hard when I read that. I was really homesick and I missed him so much. My homesickness never really went away. The next time I saw him was when I skyped him on Thanksgiving. I was able to talk to him for just a few minutes before I had to go.
My world fell apart
Five days after Thanksgiving I received a phone call from my mom. She was crying, and she told me to find a place to sit down. My mind was reeling. I knew somebody must have died, there couldn’t be any other reason for a phone call like that. My blood turned to ice as I raced to find an empty room. I sat down on the floor of a storeroom, leaning against the wall. My mother then proceeded to tell me that my uncle, the one that I had lived with and loved like a father, had shot himself earlier that day.
With that phone call, my world fell apart. I felt like a completely different person, completely empty. I didn’t understand any of it. I got time off school and was on the first available flight home. My dad came to get me from the airport. When I saw him I knew we were both in the same kind of pain, and for the first time in a long time, we hugged each other.
The next week went by in a whirlwind of tears and long periods of depressed silence. We had his funeral exactly a week after he died, on my birthday. Instead of celebrating my 19th birthday I gave a talk at my uncle’s funeral. I didn’t know how things would ever be okay again.
Still… years later
Worse than my grief and pain however was my worry for my dad. He had taken my uncle’s death incredibly hard. My uncle was his little brother. Sometimes my dad would disappear for hours without saying anything to anybody, and he would isolate himself from everyone for long periods of time. My mom and I were so worried about him.
Years have passed since the death of my uncle, but the impact of his death is still strong. After he died, my dad and I both slipped into depression. This still plagues us. Some days are worse than others. Sometimes I can’t even convince myself to get out of bed. Yes, anti-depressants do work for some things, but there are other things pills just can’t fix.
Are you considering suicide?
When someone you love decides to kill themselves, it’s not just them that dies, a part of you dies with them. The part that wonders, if you had been there more for them or been a better friend to them then maybe they would have stayed. I think about it all the time. I ask myself, if I had talked to him more, if I had asked him more often how he was doing, would my uncle have confided in me?
If you’re considering suicide, I beg you to talk to someone. Tell someone how you’re feeling. I know my uncle was afraid, that he didn’t want his family to judge him. If only he had known that we would have never in a million years judged him for the hardship that he was going through, then maybe he could have gotten the help he needed. We would have been right there for him the entire time.
Please, if you need someone to talk to, text MATTERS to 741741 or call 1-800-273-8255
I love you all. Please stay safe.