Editor-in-chief reflects as Suicide Prevention Month comes to an end

Megan Tran, Editor-in-Chief

Content warning: This column contains discussion of mental illness and suicide. To report concerning behavior or ask for advice, students can call the Behavior Concerns and COVID-19 Advice Line at 512-232-5050. Students can also contact the Counseling and Mental Health Center for support. For after-hours emergencies, students can call the CMHC Crisis Line at (512) 471-2255. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 988 or 1-800-273-8255

Nearly one year ago, I lost my friend to suicide. His name was Alex.

Alex was my younger brother’s best and oldest friend, and we met when I was in seventh grade. I still remember where I was and what I was doing when my brother called me. I remember the time. I remember what I was wearing and the look on my friends’ faces when they saw me crying through the window. I have a feeling I’ll remember forever. 

I often look back and wonder what we could’ve done differently to save his life, but I’m still not sure what that would’ve been. Maybe he thought his life didn’t matter. Maybe he was in pain and didn’t want or know how to tell someone. He never said, and we’ll probably never know.

There are so many things I wish I could have told Alex.

I would have told him that it was okay to feel what he was feeling and encouraged him to seek help, whatever that looked like. I would have told him that he wasn’t alone and that his family and friends cared so deeply about him. I would have asked him to keep living, for those of us who loved him and for all the small things in the world — the next time we would go skiing together, the release of the “Top Gun” sequel, the pet rabbit he had to feed.

But I can’t say those things to him, so I’ll say them here and now.

For those of you struggling with suicidal thoughts, please be kind to yourselves and prioritize your mental health. You’re more than the mistakes you’ve made and the struggles you’re facing. I know it’s so hard, but if you can find it within yourself, I urge you to talk to someone about how you feel. Your feelings are valid, and you deserve support and help. Maybe you don’t want to live your life as it is, but wait. Take a moment. Suicide is a permanent solution to what are often impermanent problems. That doesn’t make your problems any less significant, but you are not defined by your mental struggles. Find your reason to live, no matter how small that reason is, and in case no one has told you recently, I’m so proud that you’re still here. 

For those of us whose loved ones have committed suicide, I hope we find it in ourselves to stop feeling so angry and sad and guilty. There’s no one way to grieve or process. Many days, I feel all those things at once. Let’s have compassion, and maybe we can learn to forgive both ourselves and the person we love for taking their own life. There’s no timeline we have to follow, and we deserve to take care of ourselves, too.  

Alex was my friend. But more than that, he was like a younger brother to me. He glued our toys to the floor and flooded our house while trying to make slime. He would lay with his head in my lap while I gathered his hair into dozens of tiny braids and ask me for relationship advice. He was around so often, I once asked if he lived in our house.  It wasn’t that far from the truth. 

I used to insist that he hug me whenever he would leave, and after the first few times, I didn’t have to ask anymore. He just knew to do it, and that meant a lot to me. The last time I saw him, we hugged goodbye, and I think about that all the time.

I love you Alex, and I miss you.

Tran is a Plan II, English, and sociology junior. She is the editor-in-chief.