Some people say that the best writing comes from what you know.
So this is what I know.
I know how it feels to hear the phone ring and answer it, not knowing that life will never be the same after hearing the words on the other end.
I know how it feels to be left with nothing but questions that will never be answered.
I know the guilt of someone that has been left behind.
I am a survivor of suicide… three times over.
Writing Aftermath was not easy for me. I know that millions of people struggle with suicide and depression. They feel like no one loves them or that no one could possibly understand.
The families that they leave behind are left with a different kind of pain. It's the pain of feeling like a failure to someone you loved. There isn't much worse in this world. There's the guilt and the anger, the fear and the desperation for answers that will never come.
It's impossible to ever really understand the choice that someone makes when they choose death over life.
For me, it's been over 10 years since the first of my friends completed suicide. To this day I don't understand what he was thinking or why he didn't come to me for help.
I would have been there for him. I would have done anything for him.
I can still hear the exact words of the friend who called to tell me that a student I had been a mentor to in college the previous semester had completed suicide. I doubled over and opened my mouth to scream but no sound came out. He just kept talking, as if he were delivering the news about the weather, instead of telling me someone was gone.
I can hear my mother's sobbing as she told me what my sister had done.
It changes everything.
So why did I write something as painful as Aftermath?
There's no easy answer for that. One is to show people that those of us that are left behind, the survivors of suicide, have a story to tell. It's not easy to talk about, especially to people who can't possibly understand what it's like to go through something of that nature. Another reason is that I'm hoping, probably selfishly, that people who read this and are struggling with suicide realize that maybe there is something to live for and that there may be more people than they ever noticed before that love them and will be affected if they die. People who struggle with this often believe that either no one will notice if they are gone or that the people they love will truly be better off. I hope that, if anyone reading this is struggling, they will be influenced by the pain of the characters left behind by Edward.
You are loved more than you know.
Finally, I wrote this story to tell mine, in a way. Suicide isn't talked about much and it's usually done in hushed whispers. People that are struggling don't seek help because they don't want people to know. It's time to shine a light on this issue that affects millions every year.
Please know that it is ok to ask for help.
I wrote this story for National Survivors of Suicide Day. It's held every November on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. It's a day for people like me to remember those that are gone by their own choice and to talk to others that understand. It's a bond we all wish we didn't share.
For more information on suicide awareness, support groups, or National Survivors of Suicide Day, please visit: w w w . afsp . org.
If you are struggling with suicide or know someone that is, please call the national suicide hotline at 1-800-273-8255.
It's free and someone is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Life is precious.