I've been trying to understand a suicide for nearly 25 years.
Suicide is so confusing. There's always why. Even if you know, it's impossible to be know everything, to fully know, to fully comprehend. This is such a trivial comparison but it's like missing the end of an amazing movie, one of those movies that fills the empty spaces in the heart. But then it's left unfinished. The cartoon's fourth frame is missing. The painting is abandoned. And there's nothing left to do now. No way to see it complete. The director stopped directing. No way to complete it yourself. It's just so unfinished.
And it's such a mess. So unfair. And dare I say it, so selfish. But maybe it's just as selfish to think I could have made any real difference. I don't know.
All our talking didn't seem to change the outcome for my friend. She kept losing the light. Why couldn't her psychologist do more? Why couldn't we have perceived just how serious it was?
After talking with my teens about this today, I realized something after nearly 25 years: a stranger possesses just as much power, and quite probably more power and influence to save the life of someone contemplating suicide. When friends fail, or when friends are not enough, or perhaps when friends are too familiar to be truly heard, then maybe it's the stranger who can change everything. If only someone had asked her to dance. If only someone had noticed the girl sitting on the bench and sat down beside her and said, "Hey." If only someone on YouTube had said "it gets better."
Maybe this is our true power. Maybe each of us, in a moment of pure random compassion for a lost someone, is the antidote to the giant loneliness of life. And we would say the right thing. Or enough of the right thing to be the tipping point to prevent an unfinished life. (Maybe it's happening right now.) And we would never even know.
Sometimes I'd like to believe we all have that power. I'd like to think so.