It Might Not Get Better….But Don’t Leave Just Yet

When I worked for the police department in police records, I was shocked by many things, but nothing shocked me more than the amount of suicide reports I encountered. There was one about every other day and I was one of six people processing the reports. And this was just for Tacoma, Lakewood and Pierce County.

Many of the reports contained notes written by the person who committed or attempted to commit suicide. The first one I encountered was written by a 13-year-old boy. He lived in unincorporated Pierce County. He rode his bike up a trail in the woods, wrote a note and shot himself with his dad’s pistol. The note said how he’d never be cool enough or smart enough and he’d never be anything he or anyone else wanted him to be and that he just couldn’t live not fulfilling these ideas of what he felt he was supposed to be.

I cried a lot that day. I thought how if only I could have talked to that kid. Maybe I could have said something. Of course that’s probably naïve or arrogant of me. Whatever the case, over the two years that I worked there, I got used to the suicides. I learned that the longer the note, the more likely the suicide attempt would fail. I learned that some suicides weren’t just people giving up, but people deliberately trying to hurt people by their passing. I learned that it almost never works out the way they expect it to.

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about cyber-bullying. There’s the ‘It Gets Better’ campaign, mostly targeted towards gay and lesbian teens. I like the idea of it for the most part, though few of us are going to end up being rich and famous regardless of how long we live. For most of the people in those campaigns, it didn’t get better. It got fucking amazing. But it’s made me think what I’ve thought about since the day I read that 13-year-old’s suicide note. What would I say to someone who was thinking of killing themselves?

So here it is:

I’m not going to lie to you. I don’t know what you’re going through. And I don’t know that it will get better. Things might even get worse. That may not be the best thing to hear right now, but it’s true. When life sucks, it tends to suck a lot. So let’s get that out there right now.

The other thing I’m going to say that a lot of people wouldn’t say is that you have absolutely every right to kill yourself if you really want to. We don’t get to choose how we come into this world. I think it’s fair to let us choose how to go out. However, just because you have the right, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing to do.

I’ve known people who’ve killed themselves and people who’ve tried to kill themselves. And every single one of them was someone unlike anyone else I’ve ever met. I don’t think that’s coincidence. I think that the freaks, the geeks, and the nerds are far more likely to consider suicide because they are far more likely to consider anything. You are the people who come up with the ideas no one else can think of. You’re a valuable piece of the world. And while it might not seem like it right now, we need you.

More importantly, we need you here because there are a lot of people and I mean a LOT who aren’t like you. They don’t think much. They don’t really do anything different than anyone else. And if you’ve ever felt like fighting for anything in your life, then you know that you simply cannot let these people win. And they can’t possibly win while you’re alive.

There are things in this world that you haven’t done yet. And I’m not talking about a bucket list. I’m talking about life experiences you can’t plan and never expect. I’m talking about your entire world changing in the space of a few hours.

I’m 36 years old as I write this. I’ve been married twice. I’m a father. I’m a published author. I’ve been to the other side of the planet. I’ve done things I thought only happened in movies. But long before all of these things happened, I sat in my parent’s living room with a gun in my mouth. I may not know what you’re going through, but I understand the urge to end things.

You are not a burden. You are a person. You are not doing anyone a favor by checking out. It might not seem like it right now, but this isn’t the end. It’s the beginning.

You don’t know what’s coming for you. It may get better. It may get worse. But I promise you, it won’t be all bad. And some of it is going to be more amazing than you can possibly imagine right now. You aren’t normal and that’s a really good thing. Stay weird. Stick around. It’s the one thing you can do that will drive all the right people nuts.

–          Jack Cameron

5 thoughts on “It Might Not Get Better….But Don’t Leave Just Yet

  1. thank you
    you may not have reached that 13 year old boy in time but you’re reaching many now…including me…did not succeed at suicide 2 years ago and never tried again, because those days in the ER i realized i would have hurt so many people with an act i took in a dark place of mind, where i was in such pain thinking myself a “burden” “waste of space” i wasn’t thinking about anyone but myself… wish then I’d had this to read, or had been able to talk to you. Keep saying what you have to say, because you are being heard… bless you

  2. My dear friend Scott McElhiney (aka Rederoblack Nigelbottom) alerted me to your article by posting it on facebook along with his thoughts on the subject. What he said made me cry, as did your article. Thank you both.

    Scott’s post:

    “Can’t offer a shoulder to cry on, a hug or anything else… but Jack, you get it. Life completely sucks at times, your job, your relationships, your finances, mistakes you’ve made, people who’ve wronged you. But, even in those times, there are amazing moments… a lunch with a friend, a romp with a lover, the sun popping out and warming your body at just the right moment, a deer in a downtown park that doesn’t care that you are there, catching all green lights, a bike ride, making a better burger, staring into the night sky, righting a wrong, railing against the system or working in it… whatever… life’s small victories. We all get one shot at this, do what you can to enjoy it while you’ve got it. The option taken by those who commit suicide IS final… it may end what pains you, but it ends everything else as well. No more hugs, no more waking up with the sun streaming through a window, no more conversations with friends or foes, no more projects, no more staring up at the night sky, no more making a stab at fixing the world, no more Facebook updates. I love what you wrote Jack, you’ve been in the bubble of seeing over and over what those that made that decision left behind and reasons they may have given for the choice. For some, I might very well have agreed… can’t say. I can wish the world was a better place for all of us, but reality says otherwise, we can all just do what we can… or not.”

  3. This past week a dear friend of mine took his own life. This comes after what has arguably been the worst month of my life. I’m saddened and angered by his choice. He’ll never know how much his friendship meant to me or what sort of hole he left in the lives of his friends, family, and myself. I’m glad I wrote this last year. I still stand by everything I wrote in this post. I just don’t know that I’d have the strength to write it right now.

    It’s my hope that his is the last suicide death of anyone I know. It’s so senseless and terrible. I get that things get bad. But things get good just the same. All things come in time.

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