We sat in a restaurant hoping to catch up on news about each other. But my friend Richard, who I had not seen in 6 months, quietly announced that he was going to kill himself.
Richard had many demons. He had been behind the wheel when a car accident badly injured a friend who later died. For years, Richard believed he should have been killed too.
He was hot tempered, once demanding that I pay him for a freelance job he had done for me – “or else”.
I learned that Richard heard voices. He said they would come any time of the day or night, and the voices urged him to commit suicide.
Richard’s doctor prescribed a multitude of drugs. But Richard rarely took them, saying they made him tired.
At times, he was full of life, energetic, charming and capable of making people laugh. At other times, he would sulk, and nobody knew why.
Confronted by his plan to kill himself, I asked why. He answered by saying he simply had enough of life. This was not a crazy person sitting in front of me, but someone who appeared to have thought it through.
I became confused and agitated, urging him to reconsider. And I convinced myself that this was just talk.
Two weeks later, Richard’s frozen body was found in a remote area.
It has been years since I lost my friend. Often, I would think about our chat in the restaurant and what I could have said differently to motivate him to stay in this world.
I’ve thought also about the time we all have left.
- Our lives are captured in memories. Let’s make as many good memories as we can.
- We all have the same amount of time. Let’s use our time to uplift and encourage rather than to criticize and knock down.
- Never be embarrassed to express your appreciation or love for someone. They’ll likely remember it for life, even if they don’t react or reciprocate.
- Let us vow not to blame ourselves for the decisions of others. Instead, respect them – even if they’re wrong.
- Time moves so quickly, that the person we’ve been meaning to call may have passed. Another friend I had not talked to in a number of years was on my “got to call” list when one day, I received an email about this death. If there’s someone you need to contact, do it now.
- We need to give people the time of day, and not just pay lip service to listening. We need to turn off our own mind and become totally tuned into what others are expressing. And, to take it seriously.
- For many years, when I was confused and frustrated, I got angry. But anger made things worse and scared people away. Today, I just allow the confusion to be – and try to wait things out, until the fog clears.
People in our lives come and go. Some, we value a great deal. Let them know it.
My friend suffered from Bipolar disorder, a condition marked by severe mood swings and which, if untreated, can lead to suicide. In many cases, before carrying out the act, the sufferer will reach out to people he or she cares about. For more information, see the Mayo Clinic: