‘Eight Oh One‘ is our local PD code for suicide. Today is the unfortunate anniversary of a coworker/friend’s death by suicide 9 years ago. She shot herself in a moment of sadness and her light was forever extinquished. Her death was especially painful for me. We weren’t besties but we were friends and I always considered her a kindred spirit. And in moments alone, she would often open up a little more to me and share in that connection. Our connection stemmed in part due to similar struggles in life. We both experienced a harsh and abusive childhood because we had the audacity to be born gay. Having already survived my own brush with suicide, it was a big blow to hear of her death. I knew what she must have been going thru internally and lamented that she didn’t reach out to me. Of course, no one knew how bad she felt. She was very stoic and kept it all hidden.
People often think of suicides as cowardly or selfish. That is simply not true. That is just a projection of our own pain over the loss. When you reach that awful stage there is no thought of self.1 There is no reason. There is no right or wrong. There is no thought of those who will miss you after you are gone. All of it is stripped away, layer by layer, until nothing is left but an all-encompassing blinding pain. A singular thought remains….escape! Sadly, suicide is often the only mechanism that seems to offer a solution at that moment. But, I am here to tell you you can escape it without resorting to death. I am living proof.
Anyway, I decided to take her badge to work and remind everyone of her anniversary. On a side note, LGBT folks are 4-6 times more likely to commit suicide before the age of 25.2 In my line of work, suicides are also higher due to the stress and constant raw emotions that we process day after day. After decades of exposure, it can really wear you down. So, I wanted to reach out to my coworkers in the hopes that if they should ever be in such a dark place, they should also feel comfortable reaching out to me or anyone in their life for help. We all talked about fond memories of her and how she impacted us.
As for my coworker, where ever you are my dear, I hope you are in a better place. I hope you escaped the misery and pain. I hope that those around you can experience your light and love and be better for it.