I will never, ever forget that call. When I answered the phone, I heard the broken voice of my friend’s sister and I knew something was wrong. ‘It’s Sarah*.’ She said. ‘Something’s happened.’
‘Is she alright?!’ I instantly imagined a car crash and pictured her in hospital with a broken arm. It took a few minutes to sink it exactly what she was trying to say.
There had been no accident. My friend had committed suicide.
My mind raced. I sat. Numb. Staring at the phone.
Then I recalled that I had spoken to her only a few hours earlier. As she answered the phone, she sounded glum. I asked what was wrong; ‘You just caught me in the middle of something.’ She replied, distantly.
She went on to tell me how things were so confused with her ex and it was making her feel down. I asked if she wanted to catch up and she said she had an assignment due the next day and a few things coming up over the next few weeks. I realised it would be a while before we saw each other again and my heart sank a little bit.
Her final words to me were ‘I’ll see you soon and speak to you soon.’ I realised later they were probably the last words she spoke to anyone. Her brother found her body 3 hours later. She was 19.
No one really talked about suicide back then. It never occurred to me that she had even considered it as an option. I replayed my final conversation with her over and over again in my mind. Wishing, wishing, wishing I had something more to offer her than just ‘you deserve better. He’s a loser etc.’ I would give up everything I own to go back to that afternoon and do that conversation over. Now I have a message of faith and life and hope to give.
Teaching young people about anxiety and depression in school is so vital. Seemingly small things can weigh heavily on the mind of a teenager. And even if you’re okay, how do you know if your friend isn’t, if you don’t know the signs to look out for? If only I’d been given that information at school. Perhaps it was in the curriculum and I was too busy talking to my friend to hear it.
If you’re feeling down, please talk to someone about it. If, like me, your best friend doesn’t know what to say, please please please talk to a professional and get help. Your life matters so much. Even if you don’t think so right now.
Every now and then I hear a new song or see a new movie and I feel sad that my best friend has missed it. She wasn’t at my wedding. She didn’t get to meet my babies. We never did that backpacking trip through Europe we always talked about. So many things she missed. And I will miss her for the rest of my life.
(*I’ve omitted my friend’s name out of respect for her family)
An edited version of this story is on page 14 of the Spring 2013 edition of Bella Magazine – a great read for teen girls.