I was 13 when I first began to understand suicide.
A boy my age at a neighboring school had committed suicide and it affected me deeply. Not because we were friends. At best, we were mild acquaintances because we had mutual friends. We knew each other, but that was as far as our relationship went.
However, in the moment I learned of his death, something inside me changed because of a boy I barely knew. Someone else felt what I felt. Someone else understood the struggle. Someone else made real every thought I had about suicide. In that moment, I wished I had known him better.
I’d like to say it woke me up to what a gift life was, but it didn’t. If anything, I became even more obsessed with death, but at least it came with a better understanding of the impact of suicide. It didn’t stop the thoughts, but it did serve as a tragic reminder for me that as much as I wanted my pain to stop, I also wanted more from life than 13 short years.
I was 13 when I realized I wasn’t alone.
There is, of course, more to this story, but for now, let’s just say that was the moment I began to understand I was actually on a journey. A very long journey.