This is a story about the time I talked someone out of committing suicide. Across the news lately there have been numerous articles and talking points about suicide and depression, mostly positive, some negative. I was spurred to talk about this when I learned that recently a young man I knew as child took his own life.
This past weekend the world lost a rare young man. I knew him when we were kids and had only reconnected with him several times since then. I have not a single negative memory of him and from what I have heard neither does anyone else. This loss is as tragic as any.
I would hope than anyone and everyone would agree that if they had the power to prevent suicide they would. That’s why talking about the gravity of these events is of such importance. For me it went like this.
It was a simple night out with some friends. It was early in the summertime and I was coming home from a bonfire. As I came around a turn on a road with little light or visibility a woman sitting in the street loomed into my headlights.
I was able to swerve around her, missing her, and stop. At first I was angry with her for doing that until I realized she hadn’t even flinched and only sat there with her head in her hands. I got out of my car and approached her cautiously.
When I got over to her I found her crying quietly and upon asking her what she was thinking she said: I just don’t want to live anymore. I was absolutely speechless for a moment. A moment was all I had as another car came around the turn and I had just enough time to grab her and drag her to the side of the street as they kept driving.
Again I found myself angry with her for not moving until I realized she was looking back to the street as if to go back. It was then I realized I had no business being angry and I felt only one thing: compassion. She truly was at the end of her rope.
I held her hand and asked why. She had a myriad of reasons, no boyfriend, bad job, no family, full of regrets. They all seemed to add to the overriding fact that she simply felt useless, unloved, and alone.
I didn’t know what to say for a second until I realized I didn’t really need to say anything. I just needed to BE THERE, I asked her to tell me more. She told me about how her boyfriend left because he felt too good for her, she hated her job but needed to pay bills, and her family lived across country so she was alone.
I didn’t do anything. I sat, I listened, and I held her hand the entire time. I learned she believed in God and felt lost. I explained to her that she deserved to live. I told her that her life was worth more than a man, that we might not like our jobs but we can become more, and that family will always be there, if not physically then emotionally.
I explained to her that she was important, that she did matter, and that her life meant more to those around her than she realized. Together we called for help. I waited until authorities arrived and spoke with her. When I couldn’t play a part any longer I gave her my number and left.
Several days later I received a text from her. It was short. Thanking me for being there when no one else would, that she wanted to live, and that she believed God had sent me to save her. That that had filled her with renewed purpose.
As much as many people would like to try to fix everything, sometimes there is nothing to fix. Sometimes we don’t even need to actually do anything except be there. I believe that that night I was the light in someone else’s darkness. I am glad I seized the opportunity to be there.
What started off with me being angry at what she was doing, turned into a life changing experience for more than one person. Be careful how quickly you are to judge. The only time you should ever be looking down on another person is when you are lifting them up.
In Memory of Brian Brice
If you or someone you know is suffering from depression or thoughts of suicide please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255