There were ribbons – silver if you were simply raising awareness, red if you lost a parent, purple if you lost a child, blue if you lost a spouse, green if you lost a sibling, and yellow if you lost someone from your extended family. It was a rainbow of sadness. I wore a silver ribbon around my wrist and a sticker of an oragami crane to symbolize the special meaning of the walk for me – a survived suicide attempt.
I’ve never been to a suicide support group because I believe they mostly serve those that are left in the wake of the tragedy. They provide support for those wearing the colored ribbons.
I am the tragedy that survived.
I was thankful for the sunny day that allowed me to wear over-sized sunglasses to hide my tears as I looked at the memory wall of photos of those who died, of those who didn’t have to die. I cried because it was senseless and because I understood how each of those being remembered had once felt. I have yet to find those words to describe that feeling – perhaps a crushing pain, perhaps a sucking of all air leaving nothing to breathe. All I know is how it feels to be so depressed you would rather die than live.
209. The military chaplain read 209 names of the dead. They had tissue boxes taped to the pavilion posts, set out on picnic tables. I sat there listening, tears rolling down my face, watching the woman in front of me rub another woman’s back who was wearing a purple ribbon. And I thought “At one time, that could have been my name and that could have been my mother” and it made me so very sad.
But I am not a tragedy, I am alive and well so I raised money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Out of the Darkness walk and I went around a lake with hundreds of others, many of whom also know suicide, each in his or her own way. My boyfriend was with me, the one I love most, the one I met after my suicide attempt. The one I wouldn’t have been with if I had succeeded. I didn’t know he was waiting for me, just around the bend, just less than a year after I tried to kill myself.
You have to live to find out these joys and pleasures because they will come. You will come out of the darkness.
If you or someone you know is depressed or suicidal, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.