Note from the Editor: Today’s Brilliance is a bit different and longer than most. We feel that it’s important to bring things like this up every now and then, so we wanted to share Carl’s wisdom with you today. If discussing suicide is hard for you, we encourage you to come back tomorrow.
One of my older brothers at age 22 took his life. I was just 16 years old. The effects on myself and my family were devastating, beyond description. We had but two choices: to pull together or tear each other apart.
We chose the former and used every bit of strength to rebuild our lives. The challenges were monumental as every day was day one. We had to start over with each sunrise because the aftereffects were so persistent and the pain so ever present that at times it seemed insurmountable. We wondered if we would ever be able to move forward and regain some semblance of life.
Life does go on, with us or without us; we had to forge on and live for ourselves and for my brother. Life is precious and affords us the advantage of reveling in the countless delicious experiences at every turn. There are so many beautiful things to enjoy in this life: the soothing sound of ocean waves lapping the shore, sweet heavenly mountain air, stunning sunrises and sunsets, birds symphonic echoes, the rustling of palm fronds in the warm breezes, brilliant starlit skies….
Kids need to know that no matter what, no matter how desperate they feel, that they are loved, that there is help for them and that suicide is never ever the answer. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Life is a gift and every day we wake up is a blessing. No matter the difficulty, we get a redo. We have the luxury of choice in how we will spend our time and what we will do with it.
Having lived through and survived the horrific experience of my brother’s suicide, I am awakened to the purpose in my life. I am paying it forward by illustrating the pain with which the surviving family members are imbued so perhaps it will draw someone back from that edge of desperation.
It is always present, that persistent bit of pain which lurks just beneath the surface, waiting to nudge you back to reality when it awakens with just the slightest influence. We must acknowledge it and never shut it out for we cannot deny who we are and all of the experiences that build upon our foundation. We take ourselves with us wherever we go; that library of records within which defines us and makes us individual.
I am on a mission to save lives… even one. This is my way of paying forward by taking the darkest days of my life and helping others to see the impact of a suicide on the surviving family members. I need to let those who have walked a similar devastating path know that life does go on and that life is for the living. Our scars become an integral part of us as the experiences imprint our souls, but it is what we do with that information that makes us who we are in the end.
If you know someone who is on that final edge of hopelessness, reach out to them. Get them to talk to a family member, a friend, a rabbi, a priest, a doctor, a nurse, a bartender, even a stranger. There are so many avenues of help available, 911, contact organizations, suicide hotlines and the list goes on. Don’t hesitate, second guess or wonder, just do it. Better to be a little over zealous than wishing you would have acted sooner. You might just save a life.
Remember, “Whoever saves a life saves the world entire….”