Content Warning: Article discusses suicide.
I never got to meet you, Jeremy. At least, not in the proper sense. When you passed away, you were just 16 years old. I was only five. I was barely beginning to live my life by the time you had decided to end yours. The one and only memory I have of you is watching your lifeless body sit in an open coffin, a sight that my younger self didn't even understand at the time.
There's a pretty large stigma surrounding the entire idea of suicide. Many people have convinced themselves you have to be completely crazy to even consider something as drastic as ending your own life, but that just isn't true. Everyone has struggled. Even the people who seem the healthiest can find themselves on the edge of death.
Nobody expected you to kill yourself, and I certainly never expected myself to consider doing it myself. But here we are.
Life has a way of making us feel like death is all we have to look forward to.
I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on these subjects, but I don't think you need to be one to relate to this thought.
It's quite clear — from all I've observed — that you were not the "type" to ever want to end your life so early. You were known to be energetic and artistic, focusing more on the future than anything else and not wanting to get too hung up on inconveniences.
In the end, life doesn't really care just how happy you are.
Depression has a way of sinking into you. In your case, you were determined to keep your plan secret in order to keep anyone from trying to stop you from going through with it. That notion, that idea that you were able to keep that side of yourself hidden away so even those closest to you couldn't learn of your suicidal thoughts — it terrifies me.
You never know who could be thinking of such traumatic things. As far as I can tell, nobody noticed when I was in such a state either, even after I experimented with a few therapists after a long-term battle with depression. Some of those who know me may not even be aware of the truth behind my mindset during that time until now. The person who caused it still isn't.
The effect of suicide on those left behind is staggering.
I may not really remember anything about you from before you died, but I still have the rest of our siblings, most of whom have many fond memories of your shenanigans (with the sole exception being the only sibling younger than me). You may not have been thinking about how much we loved you when you left us, because if you had, you probably wouldn't have gone through with it.
For others who may have ever considered ending your own life, something that I have found to be effective is to really think about those you consider closest to you. How might the event of your death affect your younger siblings? What would the older ones think? Your parents? Lifelong friends? If you've really thought about killing yourself, you've likely been repressing any such thoughts which might convince you your decision is wrong. However, the more you think about how negatively losing you would affect those you're close to, the easier it is to see all the things you have to live for.
The world needs us all, now more than ever. Just like the world needed you, Jeremy.
The world has a weird way of underestimating the importance of mental health. This is even more true when it comes to men, as the larger part of society has tried to push a narrative that men tuck their emotions deep into their hearts because showing them is somehow a "weakness" or "feminine." This is extremely unhealthy. And while many are now fighting to reverse these mindsets, some still hold on to them, and it was even worse back when you were alive.
No one is alike when it comes to what sets off our emotions. Sometimes it will be a breakup or a death. In other cases, while a negative event may have been traumatizing, people may find it actually hurts more to reflect on that time period than it did when the event was actually unfolding in real-time.
I've experienced both. I know you did, too.
Not only is there nothing wrong with actively seeking out help when your mind becomes a personal hell, but it should be encouraged. By avoiding looking for therapy or telling someone you love about what you're going through, you don't do yourself any favors. This is even worse when someone might have insisted you didn't need the help you said you did. You might have chosen to take their word for it rather than getting help anyway, and we suffered for it.
Mental health is not a joke or a luxury we can never reach. It's a necessity. No matter your circumstances, you need to keep it in check at all times.
Life is unfair to us all, some more than others. No one should ever deny the extent of suffering the people close to them are experiencing, especially when you tried so hard to communicate what you were dealing with. It is nothing short of tragic that the message was never received on our end.
Your siblings miss you. Your parents miss you. Your teachers, your mentors, your friends. They all miss you.
I miss you.
Your life ended before it ever got to truly begin. Yes, you're in a better place now, but at what cost to those of us left behind? All we have left of you is the pieces you couldn't take with you. Some comics, a journal, home videos, a farewell note.
I can hardly help but think of you almost every day after being compared to you for the majority of my life, and now after my own struggles, I see we're more alike than I ever realized before. Perhaps we would have grown to be great friends down the line. Instead, since you aren't here, I'm left to pick up the pieces myself and determine what to do with them. I'm happy I couldn't go through with it like you did. I could never put our siblings through that torment a second time. But getting through a rough time and learning that there is support on the other side, it's hard not to be bitter that you didn't get to the same point.
On this very day 16 years ago (the same length of time you walked the Earth), you took your own life and left a crowd of supporters behind to contemplate what your decision meant. In our own individual ways, we all came to terms with it. We accepted it, but we hated it.
May happens to be Mental Health Awareness Month, but it should be something we prioritize at all times.
Above all else, take care of yourself.
Not all of us remember you, Jeremy, but all of us wish you were still here.
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255