I’m diving in deep from the get go, crew. I told you I was going to give it to you real, and here she comes. I wrote this article for Southwest Health for their Suicide Prevention and Awareness Campaign. I was asked to write about knowing the signs of suicide. That was hard for me. I didn’t think my brother Ben had a lot of huge red flags, but looking back, I now notice differences in Ben’s actions leading up to his death, even if very minor. Please feel empowered to ask when you feel a loved one may need support.
I Didn’t Ask
When my brother Ben was more quiet and introverted growing up than my sister and me, I didn’t ask. “He’s a guy,” I thought.
When Ben spent a lot of time submerged in the fictional world of video games, I didn’t ask. A lot of his friends did, too.
When I was on the phone with Ben and he started getting uncharacteristically loud and upset when I talked about a girl, I didn’t ask.
When I figured he was hurting, feeling rejected and alone, I didn’t ask.
When he told us he was donating some of his clothes, I didn’t ask. I thought, “Good job, Ben!”
When he said “I’ll see ya at Thanksgiving”, I didn’t ask.
When Ben died by suicide on November 11, 2014…
I started asking.
Why would he feel like he couldn’t tell any of us how much he was suffering?
Why would he do this?
How could he do this?
What could I have done…
When you don’t know the depth of someone’s suffering, it’s hard to notice all the little signs. It is even harder when you, yourself, don’t want to believe someone you love is suffering deeply. Sometimes we make excuses for our loved one’s actions to put our own minds at ease. Sometimes that can make the signs that much harder to recognize. That is what happened to me. Hindsight is 20/20, so let my hindsight guide your foresight.