That One Thing I Think We Can Learn From All These Suicides

Last week alone we had Kate Spade. Then towards the end, it was Anthony Bourdain. Before that, it was Avicii, and even before that was the utterly devastating death of Robin Williams – a loss that I feel today even though I didn’t know the man personally.

I don’t know if you noticed, perhaps you had, the one thing in common among all these suicides:

  • “I just spoke her last night, and she was happy, she sounded happy.”

  • “I just met the man last week over a couple of pints, it was so shocking to know that he was suffering silently.”

  • “We just didn’t know he was in pain.”

  • “I wish we had known earlier and been there for her.”

It is generally known that people who feel pain so strongly try to mask it the best – the most unsuspicious way – possible, by faking happiness. Which can make things worse if things don’t stay in check.


I recently wrote a letter to a struggling friend, about the thoughts I wished to convey to her, and what I hope she would do to hopefully make things a tad bearable. Sad to say, it may not have been effective. Or it was effective, there’s no telling.

Most of the time it feels like walking on eggshells, trying to deal with such a fragile topic.

I spend more time feeling tired of dealing with the whole thing too, from an outsiders’ point of view, but I can imagine what it would be like, being depressed and hopeless every single day of your life, on repeat until it feels like insanity. I’ve been there. The only difference was that I never had serious suicidal thoughts. Every now and then we all get depressed, for different reasons and for different periods.


But I digress. This isn’t one of those let-me-tell-you-about-my-sufferings post.

This is about how that one thing I learned from this suicide season was that I shouldn’t just pay more attention to myself, I should pay even more attention to those I hold dear. 

I should make it a point to check up on my friends.

We’re busy, I know. We all have our own relationships, problems, stress, and other mess to deal with. As a friend mentioned just a few days ago:

“Let’s be real, no one is going to call a [suicide] hotline. But you can take the first step in calling your friends to check up on them.”

Not too sure about whether it was verbatim, but I paraphrased. Hope you don’t mind, Jackie.

There was obviously worry after hearing news about celebrity deaths and their suicides. It made me think about those closer to home. Closer to me. I know a couple of people who suffer, too, but when was the last time I sat down with them and really had a chat with them? When was the last time you had a chat with your friends you knew suffer?

It is tedious, I know. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I only mean that in a way that to alleviate someone’s suffering, you too, must suffer a little bit. You must give a bit of your soul, share some of your spirit in order to restore things. You will get tired. I get tired. But that’s better than discovering one of your friends has offed him/herself, and left you to discover their body – just like Anthony Bourdain’s best friend. Imagine that.

So if you’ve got time today, or every day (and if you’re a Dory fish like me, set up a reminder or a to-do on your phone), check up on your friends.

You know which ones. Even the ones you know aren’t having any sort of problems whatsoever. Just drop a quick line: “hey, how are we doing today?”, “hey, all good?”


Again, like I mentioned earlier on, it may or may not be effective but at least you tried. You tried telling them that they mattered, that you love them, and it isn’t the end of the world. You conveyed to them that there is at least – AT LEAST – one person who cares about them.

Do it. Do it for yourself, do it for them. Do it for the friendship, do it for love. Most of all, do it for life.

Do you need help?
Call the Befrienders’ Suicide Hotline

03 79568145

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