I’ve never known someone who committed suicide. I had a friend who was murdered by her boyfriend a few years back and try to participate in the Walk Out On Domestic Violence fundraiser my town holds in her honor each year, but I’ve never known anyone–not even distantly–who has killed themselves. I struggled with suicidal thoughts when I was younger and going to the very school you just transferred to. But I managed to break free of all that and I pushed away anything that reminds me of those difficult times; including talking about suicide and trying to give hope to others who are presently struggling with the very same thoughts I once had. I now realize how horribly selfish that was of me and deeply regret it.
I wish I hadn’t ignored Suicide Prevention Week now. I wish I would have talked about my own struggles and maybe, just maybe, you would’ve seen it and never gone through with your plans. I’m sorry that in the short time you were at your new school you were bullied. I know how cruel kids can be. It was a leading factor in my own misery when I was still in high school there. I guess some things never change. I hope maybe now that school will keep a better eye out for bullying. Maybe now they finally realize how serious it can be.
Most of all, I regret not keeping in touch with you and knowing the teenage-you better. I knew you more when you were small. You’re a good ten years or so younger than me. I still remember you coming over to our grandmother’s house and I’d play hide-and-seek with you or build little spaceships out of building blocks for you. I also remember being jealous of how beautifully blonde your hair was. Mine was starting to turn a rather ugly dirty blonde color, but you still had hair that was almost perfectly white.
When I came down to visit my family last year, I was amazed at how tall you were. I still had this image of a little kid I used to play with stuck in my head, but when we hugged, you were a good foot or more taller than me. I was also impressed with how amazingly polite and helpful you were. I know you would come over to my parents’ house and help them out all the time.
You were a great person, Ryan. I don’t know all the reasons for why you shot yourself. I don’t even know the contents of the letter you left behind yet. But I do know that next year Suicide Prevention Week won’t come and go without me taking notice. I’ll be one of the loudest voices I can be.
And maybe, just maybe, someone will see this and decide not to take their life.
Your family misses you.
I miss you.
Your Cousin Rachel