****This is a User Submission from Brad. It’s Incredibly heartfelt, Powerful, first-hand account about suicide and the destruction it leaves behind. Feel free to share Brads story.
Thank you, Brad, for sharing with us.
I am sitting hear listening to the beautiful and powerful voices of my youth that we have all lost this year. I was big fans of both Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. I have read numerous blogs and social media postings about the selfishness that these individuals had to do this. They will be role models to thousands of others who aim to commit suicide. It makes me shutter and feel even worse for these people who decide they didn’t want to deal with life anymore. We need to continue to focus on communication, compassion and most importantly love.
It was the summer of 1995, I was a 12-year-old boy, finally feeling confident about my parent’s divorce which happened four years previously. Both of my parents had steady relationships, my relationship with my siblings was great. I was an honor roll student and looking forward to tackling the world.
I still remember the night in August it was 10 days before my 13th birthday. I was able to stay up late one summer night and was in the basement playing video games. I heard an argument from up stairs and could hear my mom and her boyfriend Mark talking loudly but didn’t seem to be anything serious. I finished my current game and went upstairs. At this point my mom had gone upstairs, and I looked out our front window and saw Mark walking into his truck. He pulled away and I whispered good night and that I loved him. After saying goodnight to him, I walked up to bed and went to sleep.
I took a moment to myself, I couldn’t believe I could love another like my dad, but I did to Mark. My dad worked a lot, and after the divorce, we only saw him every other weekend, and some of those he was busy. He also had three other stepchildren (along with his own 4), so it was always chaotic. Mark was different, we bonded uniquely as he never had kids, and I was old enough that he could talk and be himself. He was able to become a male role model which I desperately needed.
Mark was not perfect in anyway, but he never professed to be. Even though he never graduated grade 8, he constantly encouraged me to use my brain as he was never smart enough to do the things I would be able to.
I woke up to a rainy day nine days before my birthday. My one brother was beside me playing a video game. We were sitting in our brown bean bag chairs from Mark. My mom came down our stairs in a panic. I will never forget the pain and emotion in her face as she told us Mark had killed himself last night. His brother had just found Mark dead at his business; he parked himself in the garage, and left the car on and went to sleep only to never wake up.
I became frozen in time, everything stopped. I cried, I yelled, I am still crying and shaking just reliving this day in my mind. How could he be dead? I just saw him; I told him I loved him, I needed him. Didn’t he know I loved him? I know I told him many times. What could I have done to fix this? He drove away, and I was the last to see him alive. Why didn’t I stop him from leaving and run out to his car?
To be honest, I don’t remember much after that. I remember my birthday coming and going and not meaning much. My mom even took us to a special restaurant in Toronto to try and get my mind off the tragedy that had happened. I couldn’t celebrate. I was still too hurt and too confused. I also had new feelings come into my brain that I had never had before. I was unsure of myself and every decision that I was now making. Was this the right decision, was it not, if I chose wrong again would another person I love die? I had a fear of everyone leaving and not being back when they said they would. I was deeply afraid of death. My brother dealt with Mark’s death in a different way, he needed time to himself. This only caused my panic to become worse. I couldn’t lose another person I loved. If my brother was more than five minutes late, I had to go search for him in a crying panic wondering if he was alive. This expanded to my other siblings and caused huge turmoil between me and them.
In school, I couldn’t concentrate every decision I made was the wrong one. My marks dropped to their lowest levels ever. In 2 months I gained over 50 pounds of fat and was afraid to leave the house. I didn’t want anyone to leave and to be far away from me, where I couldn’t be there beside them to say I love you and I need you.
I lost my male role model and took it out on my dad. I was enraged and didn’t know why, so I fought with him for years. I made sure to take myself away and not see him. I wouldn’t let him get close again so he could leave again.
I was in fights with everyone; I lost almost all my friends, had lost my role model, already felt like I lost my dad twice. I couldn’t leave my head and the fact that the common link between everything bad in my life was me. It was the only thing that added up and made sense to me. It answered every question I had and the realization that I didn’t have to continue to make bad decisions. I could end it, and be done. I wouldn’t have to be wrong anymore, I wouldn’t have to worry if my family would come home. I could be free.
This realization excited and scared me. I was excited because this would end all of my feelings. I wouldn’t have to care anymore. I wouldn’t have to worry. I was scared of the pain this would cause to me. I didn’t want to cause myself any pain; I already had enough of that. Then my mind went back to my mom’s face coming down the stairs telling us Mark was dead. I couldn’t be responsible for putting that face on my mom again. I told my mom for the first time my feelings, and we setup counseling for our family.
I remember first meeting the therapist, he reminded me of a nerdy Santa Clause. Through weeks and months of appointments, I came to express myself and get the feelings of pain, mourning and sadness out. I was able to get my anger out. Later on, my dad came in and joined me and we reconnected our relationship. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t quick, but I came to learn I wasn’t always wrong, and I wasn’t the cause of people not wanting to be alive.
I’m one of the lucky ones; I had a family who did focus on my communications, they were always compassionate, even when I wasn’t. Through out it all, they made sure to say they loved me, no matter what.
I can never say people who decide on suicide are selfish. They are hurt, unsure, feel unheard, don’t feel the compassion and don’t see the love. Putting the blame on them of being selfish is adding another negative check box to their life. Instead, I want to say sorry to Chris, Chester and everyone else that we as other humans weren’t there for you with compassion, communication, and love.