There is beauty in death
[I was really torn about writing this post. It's a very personal post. My gut is saying I need to share it, though. All names are changed to protect privacy] It's late. I'm about to go to bed. I'm wrapping up what I'm doing on the computer. It's a typical night of surfing the web, listening to music on Spotify, and checking out Facebook, when I suddenly see, at the top of my News Feed, this post from an old friend/co-worker of mine from 5 years ago (paraphrased):
Mark: Good bye world. I hope you got some good energy from me. See you on the other side.
Mark is an old friend who I haven't spoken to since we stopped working together. What did he mean by that? Is he serious? When did he post this? Literally a minute ago. I immediately fuddled with composing a comment. What do you say to that? I think I wrote something like, "You all right?" When I pressed enter, an error message popped up. Huh? That never happens on Facebook. But you know what....it's actually familiar. It's what happens when you try to post on a comment that was recently deleted. Fuck. He wrote a suicide note and deleted it within 2 minutes.
At this point, my palms are starting to sweat. My mind is racing and my heart is beating. There's part of me that says this is not my business. It's been 4 years since we've hung out in any sort of social way. Is it my place to step in? What kind of state is he in? Maybe this is some kind of joke? ...I can't let this go. So I direct message him.
Hey, you okay??
Mark. Would you like to talk? I'm here. I'd be happy to listen. [I put in my phone number]. Seriously.
I kind of can't believe I put in my phone number. I have NO IDEA what kind of state he's in. If he finds my involvement threatening, who knows what he may do toward me? But I can't shake that this is the right thing to do. I have to take that chance. Thanks to the new Facebook, I can see that he's read this message. Okay. So any moment now he's going to reply. ...right?
No reply. This might be serious. I start to look at our mutual friends. If he won't reply to me, maybe he'll reply to a friend. I text my closest friend that also knows him:
Me: Are you still friends with Mark? He just posted this on his wall: "Good bye world. I hope you got some good energy from me. See you on the other side." He deleted it within 2 minutes. I messaged him on Facebook immediately. My palms are sweating.
Me: Not joking.
Me: Do you know who's close to him?
Me: Or closest?
Her: hmm no
Her: I haven't spoken to him in forever.
Her: lmk what's up
Her: love u guys
As you can imagine, during all of this texting, I'm going back and forth between his Facebook page, our mutual friends page, and the messages. I even open up a page on how to deal with suicidal people. I've dealt with this in the past in a very personal way. During my time as a Resident Assistant in college, I counseled a suicidal resident in my dormitory who had tried to commit suicide. He messaged me on instant messenger saying that he woke up after 48 hours of being passed out. He tried to kill himself by taking pills. Remembering my training, I told him to not do anything rash and went over to his room. I stayed with him for many, many hours, just listening to him and being there for him. It was an extremely low moment for him and my heart went out to him. At the end of my time there, I promised him I would arrange for him to go to the Counseling Center and to meet with my Supervisor early the next morning so that we could make this better. I wrote an extremely detailed report to her which she raved about the next day. She swore I saved his life. Some months later, he thanked me profusely saying I did indeed save his life. That whole situation flashed in my mind as I looked over this material.
I clicked back to Mark's Facebook wall. I find a new post:
There is beauty in death.
My heart just drops. This is completely real. Please don't let this be happening. Trying to maintain his privacy, I go back to Facebook messages and write to him:
Listen: I can only hope your message wasn't intentional or directed toward suicide, but I want to make sure. I saw your post on your wall. I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
I wait about 1 or 2 minutes to see if it marks as read. It doesn't. Shit. All right. So this is the moment. Do I potentially embarrass him and ask plainly on his wall post what's going on? My mind is going through 2,000 possibilites, but the instinct is clear. I've got to do it. I comment:
Mark, you all right?
Come on. Say something. I go back to my Facebook message. Still marked as unread. No. No, no, no, no. READ MY MESSAGE, DAMN IT. Nothing. So I start searching again. It says he is engaged, so I look up his fiancee, April. Turns out April and I have 3 friends in common: Mark and 2 other people, Richard and Bryan. I know both of those 2 people very well. I decide to text Richard because I've had recent contact with him:
Hey....you awake. It's a legitimate emergency. Suicide threat from an acquaintance of mine. You can help.
I also call him twice. No answer. I go back to Facebook. MARK STILL HAS NOT READ THE MESSAGE. UGH! I check his wall. OMG, someone else has posted. After my 'you all right?' post, his friend Amanda comments with this:
Yeah, I second that question.
Maybe she's close to him! So I immediately message Amanda:
Can you call me please???? [I put in my phone number.]
Knowing that messages from non-friends often go to the "Other" box, I comment on that post:
Amanda! Check your Facebook messages, not the inbox, but the other box.
Seconds later, my message shows up as read. Thinking my comment for her may freak Mark out, I delete my comment. I post again in his messages:
Mark. Please. Let me know you're all right. I am very concerned about you.
After a minute or two, I get a phone call from a number I don't recognize. It's Amanda! Seeing as she only saw the second vague and cryptic post about beauty in death, I relay my concern because I had seen the first post, which was more direct and suicidal. She gasps. "Oh my God. I can't believe that. I'm so glad you said something. I'm going to get his best friend Josh involved." Amanda promises to keep me updated and we end the call. This is promising. I go back to Mark's wall and....there's Josh!!! Josh comments:
After a moment, another comment shows up from Amanda:
Josh, I just called you call me back!
Okay. Good. Things are starting to get in motion. Do I stop here? I just don't feel comfortable yet. My Facebook messages to him are still not read. This does not feel good. Has he already harmed himself? God, please no. I have a pit in my stomach. I look up his best friend Josh's location to find out he lives OUT OF STATE. I've got to do more. I message Mark again:
When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute "” whatever you can manage. I am available, help is available, I care deeply about your welfare, Mark.
I get an idea. Remember his fiancee April? We had two friends in common? Richard and Bryan? Both of them live in the city so maybe they can physically show up and do something. Richard must be passed out. (It is 2:30a, after all.) So now I try Bryan. I don't have his number anymore, so I Facebook message him:
HEY. Are you awake/??? it's an emergency.
Within a minute, it's marked as read. Thank God! I continue in my message:
Bryan - call me. [I put in my phone number.] Mark is in trouble.
Who knows what he's doing, so it's understandable that it takes a few minutes for him to call me back. And, for all I know, he may not hang out with Mark anymore! FOUR YEARS have passed! God knows how their relationship is now. And Bryan and I had a very comical and social relationship. It was always based on humor. We commonly talked about meeting up at an improv show. That was our kind of connection. I hope he takes this seriously. Come on, Bryan. Call me back. Seconds later, my phone rings. YES. It's Bryan!
Hey! Bryan! I'm sorry to jump right to it, but Mark is in trouble. Are you still friends with Mark?
He says yes. THANK GOD! I explain to him the situation and he is taken aback. He starts to freak out a little bit and says he needs to find out what's going on. He explains that Mark even called him earlier today. Oh man, he feels awful for not answering the phone or calling him back. He decides to find out right away. I tell him to keep me updated. He says thanks and we hang up.
What now? I decide, while I'm at it, I'm going to message his fiancee April too! So I do. No immediate response.
Okay. I'm truly about out of options at this point. My messages to Mark are still unread. I have gotten two close friends of his to take action. I'm really exhausted because my adrenaline has been running and I'm past my bedtime. I just want to get confirmation that he's okay!! What else can I do? HELLO. What I should have done to begin with! I get on my knees, I put my head on my bed, and I pray. I pray for Mark. I pray that he reconsiders. I pray that he has peace in his heart. I pray that, even if it's just a short moment of delay, that he gives his friends a chance to hear him. I pray his friends get there in time. I send a lot of healing. And honestly, I can feel the healing myself. I start to feel a little better.
Finally, after 20 long minutes, I get a message from Bryan:
mark is ok
THANK GOD! Literally. I'm so grateful to hear that. In the next 15 minutes, I get messages from Amanda and April that they're in touch with him and that he's okay. What. a. relief. His friends are reaching out to him from all over at this point.
So why did I tell you this story? I'm not exactly sure. I just know I needed to. If anything, please, know this. It's true. You are loved. You are loved dearly. Even your friend from four years ago who hasn't said a word to you is still genuinely concerned with your well-being. If you're ever feeling like you need to end your life, understand it is only temporary. And you can get help. Go here: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. And if you're someone that isn't sure how to help someone in trouble, read this page: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/GetHelp/Someone. You are not alone in this journey.
The next morning, I woke up to two messages in my Facebook inbox. I get choked up even reading them now. The first one is from Mark's friend Josh:
mark is ok he said he was a little depressed i told him there are people that love him on this planet, and not to for get it. leigh your absolutely amazing thank you so much for having a beautiful heart. i would of not known if it wasn;t for you love you brother
The second one is from Mark:
Leigh your awesome
No, Mark. You are. That's why I did all of this.