Suicide among friends

Since I was hospitalized earlier this year for depression and anxiety, I’ve started attending several support groups, and have made several new friends who have some form of mental illness.  To say this has been a godsend for me would be an understatement. We talk and we text a lot, and (wait for it) we even do FUN things like grabbing a bite to eat, going to the movies, or going to art museums.

But occasionally, there’s the reminder of the serious illness we share. Just tonight, I learned that a woman I became friends with when I was in the hospital attempted suicide last month. Thank goodness, she was not successful, and she said tonight that she is getting better every day. She is the second person I know who has made an attempt in the past few months. My other friend wasn’t successful either, and he still has a lot of bad days to go along with his occasional good days.

I’d be lying if I said that news like this is not triggering. Certainly, I’m glad that they opened up and told me what was going on. But news like this scares me, too. I like to think that I will not make another attempt myself. But there’s no way I can guarantee that. I am fortunate that I have not yet lost a friend to suicide. But I’d be kidding myself if I did not consider that sometime in the future, I will have to confront that kind of loss.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who has thought about this. A few days ago, one of my new friends texted me. I was very busy that day, and I simply forgot to text him back. He tried me again, but this time, his text was more frantic: Are you okay–with several question marks and exclamation points. Quickly, I reassured him that I was okay. I knew what he was thinking.

In the long run, this does make me realize that those of us with mental illness must be there for each other. We are in this together–even during times when we’re scared shitless.

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