If you’re reading this, it’s very likely you’re a friend or at least, an acquaintance.
I’d include the late channel 4 news anchor and reporter Eric Slocum as an acquaintance. We knew of each other, worked together several times as our paths crossed. We had many mutual friends, but it had been literally five years since I probably last talked with him. A rare Facebook post or a kudo on getting a book published, but no real conversation.
So I, as an acquaintance can’t help but wonder–could I have talked with him and prevented him from taking his own life? By the sounds of it, probably not. But it’s a tricky subject. If you say, “I would have done everything to save him”, there are those who will respond, “Oh, you just don’t understand depression.” To be honest, I don’t. I get the feeling of inadequacy, of losing a job, of feeling like your dreams have come to an end, of thinking there’s just no reason to go. Once, long, long ago, I was devastated at the loss of a girlfriend. I remember driving along in the express lanes, heading back to the UW and thinking just how easy it would be to end it all and drive into the cement pillar at the off-ramp.
And there in lies the biggest challenge with suicide. People think it’s not natural to even think about it. It is, but the rational mind should win out and with most people, it does. Eric is the second friend in the last year, another former broadcaster, to choose to call it quits. But what they don’t just didn’t understand is the pain, the monumental sadness they left behind. The questions, the “what if’s”, the “why didn’t I recognize the signs?”, the “What could I have done?”
Eric, like too many others, lost the battle. Apparently, it was a life-long war against “his demons” as so many friends have blogged, Facebooked or emailed. I guess I’m fortunate in that I didn’t know that Eric. I knew a consummate professional on both TV and radio, a talented writer, a gentle, caring man.
Again, if you’re reading this, we’re at least acquainted and I’ll say to you–don’t throw away this precious gift. Talk to people. More people care about you than you realize, even if you mind is trying to convince you otherwise. No matter how bad life can seem, there are millions of people on the planet who would gladly swap places with you. I found it strange that we got word of Eric’s death on the same day we heard about the passing of Davy Jones. Davy’s life came to a sudden end due to a heart attack at the age of 66. I can only imagine that Davy would have gladly swapped places with Eric, to wake up just one more morning; to smell one more rose or a pot of freshly brewed coffee.
I care. Others care. We get just one of these things called “lives” and it won’t be perfect, there will be amazingly happy times and overwhelming sadness–that’s just part of the deal. Emotions will go up and down, but accept the fact that there are easily dozens of people that could be there for you in a heartbeat.
It wasn’t that long ago that I wrote here about that other friend who chose to end their life because they reached a point beyond hope. Now it’s happened again.
I just don’t get it.