“In most cases, suicide is a solitary event and yet, it has far-reaching repercussions for many others. It is rather like throwing a stone into a pond – the ripples spread and spread.” – Alison Wertheimer

Have you met suicide?

… as you existed in the aftermath after it tore through your family like a tornado?

Have you thought about scheduling a meeting with suicide when the pain became too much to bear?

Cancel your meeting.

I am pleading with you: do whatever you can to avoid meeting suicide.

I’ve met suicide.

It was my mother’s steady, hysterical bang on the kitchen counter at 4 AM.

It was my father practising CPR on my brother’s lifeless body.

It was ambulance sirens bouncing off chaos and ringing in my ears.

Suicide was my tiny feet breaking ice on the curb while I became acquainted with death for the first time.

It was a little girl making her parents sing to her every night, “See you in the morning. See you in the morning. Promise.”

Suicide wasn’t just an act to rid my brother of his pain. It was a lifetime commitment of pain for the rest of my family.

Suicide was heartbreak.

It was anger.

It was grief.

He, a non-smoker, was sitting on the roof late one February night smoking a cigar. When my dad asked him what he was doing, he responded with, “I think every man has to smoke a cigar once in his life.” It never rang any alarm bells for us – naïve, but hopeful, that we would never have to meet suicide the way we did.

My brother was a handsome, athletic, intelligent eighteen-year-old. He was vibrant, laid back, and level-headed. In fact, we never even knew he was struggling until he ended his life after months of planning his exit. That late February night turned into March 3, which collectively turned into the worst day of our lives. My brother was a personification of the notion that nobody is immune to the darkest of demons.

After his death, I spent years angry with him. Followed by years of intense, painful, irreconcilable heartbreak. Followed by years being certain that his fate was mine, and that by eighteen, I would end up killing myself too. Followed, finally, by forgiveness, understanding, and peace.

Years later, as my mom took her last breath, she was surrounded by her three remaining children. As we all held her hand and told her we loved her, I couldn’t help but wonder if her heart was breaking with the absence that my brother left in that room.

Cancel your meeting with suicide.

Understand the torrential aftermath that follows.

Check in with everyone around you. Ask questions, be a lighthouse, and be kind to everyone you meet.

Suicide is running rampant in today’s society: It is one of the leading causes of death in Canada, perpetuated by mental illness, loss of support systems, and financial burdens.

Suicide has begun to swallow our brothers, sisters, friends and parents.

So here’s to our growing together instead of apart – to fearlessly battling mental illness in the face of our growing pain and uncertainty.

… to refusing to lose our brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers and friends to suicide.

… to speaking candidly and openly about our pain.

… to offering love and light to those who are fighting their own silent battle.

… to not allowing my brother’s name to be tarnished by the stigma of the illness he succumbed to.

Here’s to cancelling our meetings.

Written by Celina Dawdy