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My Brother’s Suicide

Typically, when you’re a teenager you never really think about the things you take for granted. You seem to think that everything will remain the same and when you wake up the next day, you’ll just go back to life the way you left it the day before when you went to sleep. I can honestly say, that’s not the case.

When I was fourteen, my best friend was my brother. We went everywhere together and did everything together. I was staying with him at his apartment when I got sick in 2003 and had to go home to my mother’s house for a couple days to try to get better. When I returned, my brother was nowhere to be found. It turned out that he had gotten in some trouble and went to jail. Fast forward several months and we end up in the next year when my brother was released.

He had looked for work everywhere, applying to job after job, whether he wanted to work there or not. He got nowhere and his probation officer told him that he would go back to jail if he didn’t get a job quickly. My brother showed up at my house for my birthday but I had already made plans so I told him I was leaving for the weekend. Little did I know, he was feeling down about not being able to get a job. I turned fifteen that weekend.

When I came back, he told me he was still trying to get a job but it was hard and that he felt like giving up. I thought I knew everything about life back then because, of course, most teens do, so I said, just keep trying, you’ll have one in no time. I was wrong. The following week, he went to my aunt’s house and I promised I would meet him there. I never went and I never saw my brother alive again.

I will never forget that Tuesday night in August of 2004. My mother had been calling me but couldn’t reach me because there wasn’t any service where we were out fishing, a few friends and I. She told me to go home and that there had been an accident. Then she left another message telling me to please go home and that my brother had been in an accident. I was thinking, alright, probably a car accident or something. I showed up at my grandma’s house because that was the place we had always called home. I got out of my friend’s van and started walking up the concrete that led to my grandma’s front door. My mom was walking toward me and as I watched I remember thinking that something didn’t seem right.

Her words, “He’s dead,” echoed in my ears as everything turned to slow motion. She told me that he had committed suicide. I heard a loud scream and felt a horrible pain seep through my arm as my mother caught my falling body. Later, I realized that the loud scream had come from me. My mother had asked me when my brain began to work properly again, if I wanted to go home with her. I refused.

I went to my friend’s house instead, an apartment complex where my brother’s friends lived in their own apartments spread out across the complexes. When I showed up, my friends asked me what was wrong, seeing that I had been crying and looked stressed. I took a beer from their fridge and I said, “My brother is dead.” Everyone stopped what they were doing, there were several people there because they were always having a party of some nature. No one believed me at first, that my brother had committed suicide because they had all seen him just a few days before and were making plans to go fishing and hang out with each other. He seemed fine. But he wasn’t and it was too late for us to see that by the time we got the memo.

My brother, who we’ll call John, was laughing and dancing and joking with us all about the past and making plans for the future the last time we saw him. He was sure he was going to turn his life around and wanted to get married and have a family. He was fine, happy, and a guy who laughed and shared his heart with everyone, until he wasn’t.

After that night in August of 2004, my life changed. I wasn’t the same anymore. I drank myself into oblivion, I quit school because everyone asked me about my brother every day, including teachers, because everyone knew him. Everyone loved him.

One day, I met my mom at her place of employment and I told her I just couldn’t live without him anymore. My mother took me to a counselor who referred me to a hospital an hour away from my home. When I spoke to the staff there, they didn’t help. I felt like no one understood what I was feeling and no one could help me, I must be the only one. When I was sent home, because I told them I was fine and lied through my teeth to get out so I could go home and focus on a way to leave this world, I was prescribed medication. I took the meds and thought, maybe my mom couldn’t handle it if I left her too. I read a book by Danelle Steele about a boy who died and how it made his mother feel. I watched my mother drown herself in alcohol every night after work. I needed her, but she couldn’t help me because she couldn’t help herself. I left home and went to stay with friends. I drank myself into oblivion every day and got into drugs really badly, wishing my brother was around and blaming myself for breaking my promise and not realizing that he was not okay. I hated myself for allowing it to happen. How did I not know? He was my best friend. He was my brother. Fifteen years of knowing someone, how could you not see the signs?

It took me years to understand that it wasn’t my fault. It took years of drinking, drugs, and ruining my life to understand that there was nothing I could’ve done differently. He made the choice before I made the promise. He was visiting everyone he could one last time before he left this world. He felt like the pain was just unbearable. His schizophrenia was relentless, and he couldn’t get a job to get himself out of the trouble he put himself in, which was just too much. There was nothing I could do and when I finally realized that, I pulled my life together. I began talking to people and helping them through their problems.

I’ll never forget the day my oldest brother told me that I had saved his life, just by being there and trying to see life through his eyes. Again, several years later, he called me and was ready to take his own life. I explained to him that his story wasn’t over yet and that I would help him find a way through the issues he was going through, and I did. Which I feel that I wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for losing my other brother years before.

The reason I am telling my story is, I know what suicide looks like. I know how it feels when someone leaves you without saying goodbye and without warning. I know what it’s like to stay up for hours watching over someone to just try to keep them alive because you just can’t see your life without them. I know what it’s like to feel hopeless and helpless. I know what it’s like to feel like you just don’t have a place in this world and that you would rather reside in the darkness of death than live in the light where everything seems so hard and pointless. I’ve been there, through it all. Since that day in August 2004, I have seen countless therapists, have been in a hospital for mental health, and have wrapped a noose around my own neck just forthe beam to snap when I was trying to commit suicide. I have walked through hell, trying to find some sort of light and this is what I found; a way to help others.

Take your pain and make people aware. Take the sorrow and turn it into something unforgettable. You can save a life so that others may not have to go through the pain of losing someone as you did. And if you are the one, feeling like it’s just not worth it to stick around, please think of this:

Everyone has something within them that is a spark, making the world go round. Whether it’s a story to write of inspiration or something made up that might help someone escape their own horrors for a little while. Maybe take a walk in the woods and look at the beauty that we often forget exists. Maybe, just maybe, you can send a message to your relative you haven’t heard from in a long time. You never know what they might be going through, too.

Set goals. Start small. Today, take a shower and go for a walk, or call your grandmother just to hear her laugh. Tomorrow, write a letter to your aunt, she won’t be expecting it, but when she gets it, she will smile and you have made a difference. Help a neighbor, give yourself a reason. Give yourself that push and reach out to others. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

I still push through losing my brother and there are times that I think to myself that people would be better off without me, but every day I find a reason, I find hope.

We are all in this together, even if we are going through different situations, we are all still living life in this world where there are limitations. You are someone to somebody. You are worth it. You are a human being. You are beautiful. You are amazing, strong, and courageous! There is help and there is hope. We are here, all of us. By: Lisa Anthony

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