brother

Thank you to everyone who supported my brother and my parents during our recent crisis. Since I shared my brother’s situation, I’ve tried to respect his privacy.

I write about him today
because he could use continued encouragement.

A person may walk away from a suicide attempt. He may be told his body processed an overdose without any negative long-term impact to his overall health. He may hear over and over again, in therapy and at home, how much he matters.

He hasn’t given up. Doctors are adjusting his course of treatment. Next week, he’ll be evaluated for a program we both believe will help him heal.

Whether you’re the praying sort or the positive thoughts sort,
please reserve a space for him.

The mind is a tricky thing. It usually fixates on whether or not a life matters to specific people. When those people don’t care about a life, it’s easy to believe no one does.

Every life matters. Every. Life. Whether an individual thinks he matters is irrelevant. Every. Life. Matters. If you know my brother, once knew my brother, or are a stranger with a few seconds, I know he would appreciate that message in the coming days.

Thank you again to everyone who contacted my parents, my brother, and me. Thank you for the cards, letters, calls, visits, and messages of encouragement and hope. Thank you for the continued requests for additional information. While I don’t want to make multiple posts about a private matter, I believe it’s important to acknowledge the efforts of so many people. Thank you. Thank you. And thank you again.

world suicide prevention dayOn the eve of World Suicide Prevention Day, my brother tried to kill himself. I won’t be pithy or trite. A suicide attempt guts responses anyway. Synapses don’t fire. Fingers won’t type. Ideas refuse to flow…..or they overflow.

My brother first tried to kill himself at fourteen or fifteen. He found a loaded gun, but he couldn’t pull the trigger. Funny how triggers become life’s highlight. The thing in the cleft of the inevitable canyon. The constant no matter the speed of the fall.

For three decades, I watched my brother claw at immovable rock and sometimes climb to sunshine. When I was lucky enough to be in his life, I never saw more joy etched into a face. He made it. Sweaty, bruised, exhausted, battered, yes, but euphoria superseded everything. He inched himself back to living, and we who loved him basked in the glory of him whole.

A body can’t scale impossible cliffs forever. It breaks down, gives out, ages beyond its ability to thrive.

Much like a troubled mind.

It whiplashes from the pit of a roiling soul, a blackness no thought can expunge, no sentiment can quash, no love can surmount, until the psyche splats against the bottom, its sides too daunting to find the unreachable sliver of light. How many times did my brother lie alone in that chasm before he dragged himself to stand, groped through blackness and scratched a path to the light?

Time passes. It’s hard to celebrate another success. Light dulls when everyone knows there will be a next time.

I’ve never known how to cope with my brother’s flirtation with death. When I was younger, I lectured him, because I didn’t understand. The depression. The endless dark. Why couldn’t he pick himself up and be strong? Like me?

I begged my parents to force him to get help. I avoided him, because I couldn’t stand the wrecking ball of his presence. Would he welcome me? Or lock himself in his room and refuse to leave? I offered to help him when he lacked the energy to lift one mental finger and accept. Through everything, I gave him a broken kind of love. It never penetrated his churning spirit, never forced its way into the lightless expanse of his soul.

I know it isn’t my fault my brother now lies in a trauma unit, his body plugged into machines to eradicate the lingering effects of his latest suicide attempt. I understand no amount of love, of begging, of connection, can stop a determined person from harming himself when he’s too broken to undertake another climb.

My brother’s only hope, shackled within the prison of his own subconscious, is to finally find a path that works. A route to the top with tools to cushion his next fall. No matter how madly I want those things for him, he has to grasp them himself.

I mourn for those who’ve lost loved ones to suicide. I sob for my brother who can’t stop trying. I cry for myself and my parents, who live every day wondering when he’ll succeed.

I don’t know how to cope with suicide. I only know how to try.

***************

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. I pilfered links to resources from Tori Nelson Young’s exquisite post about her mother’s suicide (READ IT HERE), and I added a few more.

RESOURCES FOR SUICIDE PREVENTION & DISCUSSION

To Write Love On Her Arms

International Association for Suicide Prevention

It Gets Better Project

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Project Semicolon

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline