What I Would Have Missed


Written by McKenna Orrico, Feature Writer, Editor-in-chief

The month of September is used for National Suicide Prevention. To do my part in encouraging others not to take their own lives, I want to explain all the things I would have missed if I had taken mine on December 31st, 2020. 

After the worst months of my life, I did not see an end to my drawn-out suffering. I strongly considered taking my own life. At the time, I did not see a future for myself. There was no purpose to life; my existence felt pointless. With the help of a solid support system, I survived. I am here writing to you today because I did it; I lived. Taking my life would have been the biggest mistake I ever made.

Two hundred sixty-four days, 6336 hours, 380,160 minutes, 22,809,600 seconds would have been discarded if on December 31st I had committed. I would have missed 22,809,600 seconds of valuable time meeting new people, learning new things, having meaningful conversations, writing articles that help maybe one person feel like they are not alone. That would have been an actual waste of 22,809,600 seconds. Instead, I have used that time to meet those new people, learn those new things, have those meaningful conversations, and write those articles that can provide some feeling of belonging to another.

On February 1st, my first article was published. That was the actual start of the new chapter of my life. I had finally found an outlet to express myself productively and positively. As time went on, my articles exhibited a more vulnerable feel than the news articles I created.

The idea of being vulnerable was extremely frightening. I was putting myself out there for the world to see, judge, and criticize. While writing the article, I kept asking myself if I was sharing too much or not enough. This was the first time I opened up to anyone besides my therapist about these things. I discussed the topics of depression, substance use, and other mental health challenges. The response I got from that article forever changed my life. Specifically, one person reached out to me, and they expressed how much my article validated what they were going through. They revealed how alone they felt and how a particular section made them feel like they would be okay. From that day on, I knew why I lived. I finally had this purpose that I so desperately needed. 

With that found purpose, I was looking for something to fill a void. Then, my mom suggested volunteering at my dad’s best friend’s living facility. I was not sure how engaging assisting many elders would be, but it changed my life. On my first day of volunteering, my supervisor told me to help a 101-year-old woman named J. She was this little, old woman who was almost deaf but was still mighty. I was terrified, my first day here, and I had to help some woman who was unable to hear, play bingo. Every Tuesday and Thursday from that point on, I allowed J to play bingo. We created this bond that I had rarely developed with another person. I was her “sweet angel”, and she became one of my best friends. As I said, she had been alive for 101 years, thirty-eight years of which she had spent without the love of her life. She missed him awfully; this was my first authentic look at long-term grief. The longest I have been without a close family member was eight years. I could never imagine being without the person I built my life with for almost forty years. In August, J was laid to rest at the age of 101-years-old, however the impact she made on my life will stick with me forever.

What I would have missed the most was a second chance at life. I would have missed the opportunity to live and take control of my life. The place I was in on December 31st, 2020, did not last forever. No matter how hard it gets or how dark it gets, there is no reason to end your life before you have the opportunity to live it. I promise you it will get better. It may not be today or tomorrow, but it will eventually get better. If I had ended my life, I would have made the biggest mistake imaginable. I do not want you to make that mistake. If you are in the place where you want to take your own life, please reach out to someone. If you think that friend or family member is going through something and might be in danger, reaching out can never hurt. Do not let this be the end for you. Do not end your life before it even begins. It will get better.

For this reason, the month of September is crucial for anyone with suicidal tendencies and the people in their lives. There are specific indications one can observe in a family member or friends that can conclude that they might be suicidal. These behaviors can include but are not limited to: sudden moodiness, change in personality, self-isolation, and self-harm. Identifying these warning signs in a loved one or yourself is critical to have the ability to get help. There are specific communities that are more prone to suicidal thoughts and tendencies. These communities included members of the LGBTQ+ community, veterans, Native Americans, youth, young adults, suicide attempt survivors, and people experiencing trauma. Targeting and adding more resources to the communities that truly need it can be vital in saving lives. 

The more we educate one another on the warning signs and how to assist emotionally; we can take a step toward lessening the frequency of suicide. Take time this month to ask the people in your life and yourself if you need help. The last thing that anyone wants for you is to take your own life. Just know, you are loved and valued. The world would not be the same without you.



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