As someone living with severe depression myself, experiencing this form of loss had a powerful impact on my mental health journey.
Scott was the only one who got my depression. He sat with me on emergency room stretchers while I waited for the crisis counselor to decide if I needed to be admitted to the hospital for my suicidal thoughts.
And when I was stuck in the psych ward, Scott came to visit me every single night. Scott was that friend that you can always count on — that friend who is so much more than a mere companion — someone who understands you on a different level.
Someone who is there to save your life.
He was there to coax me into signing into the hospital when I needed the support and my judgment and insight were impaired. Scott sat quietly while I paced around the emergency room until the doctor prescribed me medication to calm me down.
And he was there when I was so depressed that I couldn’t find one single reason to live. And he would give me 10.
Scott tried so hard to make my life more “normal” and helped me focus on the world that existed outside of my depression.
He dragged me out of my dorm room bed to go to the movies or just to stroll around the mall, eating McDonald’s in the food court after stuffing ourselves with popcorn.
I was embarrassed to have my other friends visit me when I was in the hospital. My depression was so severe that I couldn’t find the energy to take care of myself. My eyes were swollen, I hadn’t brushed my teeth in days, and my hair was so greasy that strands stuck to my cheeks. I probably smelled too.
And I didn’t want to see my other friends anyway because they would just ask me when I was getting discharged. And for a while, I just didn’t know.
I knew that Scott dealt with severe anxiety and depression too, but I was so wrapped up in my own misery that I was entirely self-absorbed.
It couldn’t have been easy for him to visit me in the hospital when he knew that he was about to be behind those same locked psych ward doors himself. That he, too, would be eating gross hospital food and submitting to group therapy when all he wanted to do was curl up in a little ball on his bed.
I didn’t know that he was considering suicide. Depression can make it difficult to focus on things outside of your own head, and I didn’t pick up on the clues that I wasn’t the only one who was struggling.
A few years went by, and I moved across the country with my family. When I checked my e-mail before going to Thanksgiving dinner one year, I found an e-mail in my inbox delivering some of the most disturbing news from his mother: “Scott has committed suicide.”
I immediately wished that I had been a better friend. I wish he knew that I was a phone call away and that I would be there for him like he was for me during all my visits to the hospital. I felt like I had somehow failed him as a friend. I felt guilty that he didn’t come to me before doing something so drastic.
I would have done anything to save his life.
Scott’s suicide made me think differently about my own attempts to hurt myself and how this must have impacted my friends and family.
For once, I was on the outside looking in. I quickly learned what it felt like to lose your best friend to something that may have been preventable.
Since I’d also been there myself, I really understood his depression. Scott’s suicide also made me think about better ways to cope with my own depression. It made me more devoted to complying with my treatment and taking all my medication as prescribed to minimize my own depressive symptoms.
I was very close with Scott’s mom. We had lunch together all the time before I moved. When I saw what she was going through, it gave me more of an incentive to stay well for my own family.
When Scott died, I decided to fight like hell against my own depression. I would not let my mental health condition win — I would vanquish the beast with the help of my friends, family, and treatment team.
I also knew that I didn’t have to do it alone. I can’t help but wonder if Scott had reached out for more support if he might still be alive today.
I know it isn’t my fault, but I still can’t help but feel like I failed him.
Scott might be the only friend I’ll have who will feel just as comfortable playing miniature golf with me as holding my hand in the psych ward. He even took me to the senior prom at my high school, where I sobbed in his arms because I was so depressed.
Scott’s suicide made me more aware of when other people might be suffering. Quite often, depression is a silent condition, especially if you aren’t looking for it.
I’m finishing up my master’s degree in public health, and I completed an internship in the suicide prevention program at a major public university. I’ve made it my mission to help prevent suicides.
But I can’t neglect the work I have to do on myself too. I have to spring into action the moment I start feeling depressed and reach out to my psychiatrist for a possible medication change.
I have come to know the symptoms that mean I’m slipping: I have trouble sleeping, I lose my appetite, and nothing seems fun anymore. This sadness sweeps over me, and getting out of bed is a major struggle.
But I will keep fighting. I know that Scott would want me to.
Medically reviewed on August 02, 2023
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