A Serious Post

April 25, 2011

Yesterday’s post was full of fun and frolic, which is generally how we roll here at Intergalactic Writers Inc. However, as long-time readers will know, there is sometimes a need to lower the mask of comedy, to do away with the smokescreens of jokes and wisecracks. There is sometimes a need to be serious.

This is one of those times.

I learned today that a young man with whom I went to elementary school took his own life. What’s worse, I learned that this was not a recent event; indeed, it was just over a year ago.

There is very little more chilling than reading the name of someone who has died… and realizing you knew them.

I had not seen this boy for years. I cannot honestly say that we were friends in elementary school. We behaved as little boys and girls do in elementary school- he threw balls of paper at me, and I avoided sitting too close to him. Then he moved to another city, and I never saw or spoke to him again.


I knew him. He is in my class photos, and I am in his. I can still see him, hunched over a math test, reading a book, looking away innocently as I brushed another paper wad off my desk. We were never friends, but neither was there genuine hostility between us. And he is gone, has in fact been gone for quite some time.

Looking at those class photos, you would never guess.

My deepest condolences are to his family. I cannot imagine what they have gone through. But I do, perhaps, have some inkling of what their child felt. And that is perhaps the root of this sick knot lodged in the pit of my stomach: the deep empathy from having known him, and having faced similar demons.

So I would like to take this opportunity to say: there is help. If you are suffering now, or if you know someone who is suffering, the darkness does not have to be faced alone. There is no shame in the fight, nor is there shame in asking for help. The mind is an organ, like the liver, like the heart, like the lungs. People with heart disease have no stigma attached to taking blood pressure medication or switching to a low-sodium diet. There should be no stigma attached to mental illness.

But there is. And this has to stop, because it is ultimately the silence that kills. The silence of the sufferer, and the silence of those who look back in retrospect and say, “I guess I did notice…”  

There are always, always, always options. Even in the blackest night of the soul, there is hope. So long as you live, there is hope. Please, if you know someone who is hurting, don’t stand by, even if help seems to be the last thing they want or need. Please, if you are hurting, know that people care for you, and that there is always help available. Asking for help does not make you weak. Asking for help is, in fact, one of the greatest acts of courage you can do.

Speak up. Speak out. Don’t stop speaking.


Kids Help Phone: http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/teens/home/splash.aspx

Hope Line: http://www.hopeline.com/

Teens’ Hope Line: http://www.teenhopeline.com

Directory of American Crisis Hotlines: http://www.psychotherapist.net/crisis-hotlines.htm

Directory of Canadian Crisis Hotlines: http://www.ementalhealth.ca/canada/en/_Telephone_Crisis_Lines_a1_b21.html

Directory of British Crisis Hotlines: http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/support/mental_health_emotional_usefulcontacts_index.shtml



  1. I’ve known several people who chose to kill themselves. From where I stood, they gave no outward indication of their plans before taking their own lives.

    My Ethics professor in college taught class one day and hung herself that night. Surprised all of us. She’d been laughing and joking with us the day before.

    A fellow law student who seemed incredibly well adjusted entered the JAG Corps and killed himself soon thereafter.

    I’m not convinced that either of them was mentally ill. They just decided that being here no longer interested them.

  2. And when you’re speaking and no one can hear you, start shouting instead of giving up. Scream until someone hears you. Which is extremely hard to do when you barely have the will to get out of bed.

    The flip side is to make sure people know that they matter to you.

    I worked crisis hotlines for years, I talked most out of taking that final step; some I wasn’t able to. Of those, a few even thanked me for being with them on the phone at the time of that final act, which is a horrible thing to live with. As writers we love the ‘what if’ question for our stories. But sometimes that question leaves nightmares.

    • Lisa, I am so glad that there are people like you. I doubt very much that I could do what you do…

  3. […] posts:  Suicide For All The WRONG Reasons * If I . . . *  A Serious Post (Intergalactic […]

  4. […] posts: Suicide For All The WRONG Reasons * If I . . . * A Serious Post (Intergalactic […]

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