Open Letter to Those Who Have Thought About Suicide

Open Letter to Those Who Have Thought About Suicide

Psychology January 31, 2019 / By Kathryn P. Haydon
Open Letter to Those Who Have Thought About Suicide

If you have ever thought of suicide, this letter is for you. I hope it lets in a little light so you can see the next step.

There’s a picture in my mind of a tiny girl with penetrating eyes tromping through the parking lot of the school where I used to teach. She was never without a pair of oversized cowboy boots, even in the searing Southern California heat. She was always searching for the neighborhood cats.

She seemed to have a special sense for animals and Facebook told me that she’s remained an animal lover, a master rider, and rancher at 13 years old. She is known for her love of animals, her dedicated work ethic, and her endurance.

Facebook also told me that a few days before Christmas, she took her own life.

I have not seen nor thought about this girl since she was a two-year-old holding cats in the school parking lot, straggly blonde hair falling in her face. I moved away, she moved away. But now I can’t stop thinking about her.

What thought was so devastating that she could not see around the next corner?

What might I do to make the world a better place for kids—or adults—who find themselves in utter darkness?

If you have ever thought of suicide, this letter is for you. I hope it lets in a little light so you can see the next step.

Your life is filled with possibility. You don’t feel it just now, but let me walk with you for a while through the darkness and share a story.

One summer I went caving near the Missouri Ozarks. We had to crawl through tight tunnels in total darkness. When we got to the middle of the cave I could see nothing, not even my hand in front of my eyes. It felt like the end of the world, an out-of-body experience, total discomfort. I felt stuck and didn’t know where to turn to get out of the cave.

Then someone turned on a tiny watch light, the kind that simply lights up the digital numbers on a small watch face. Deep inside that pitch black cave the tiny watch light lit up the entire cavern. We could see others around us. We could see our hands. We could see a smile across the room. We were not alone and the pathway out was right there. Just a second earlier we’d been enveloped in the blackest darkness I had ever known but it vanished with only that teeny, tiny light.

I’d like to offer my watch light to you, to show you a path through this oppressive, dark space at least to a place where you can see a bit of daylight creeping through cracks in the walls.

Because your life is filled with possibility.

Are you overwhelmed by a mistake? By a path that appears closed? By mean people around you? If you are, it’s a good sign. It means you are sensitive. I imagine my little cowgirl friend was sensitive; most people who have a deep connection with animals are. This can be overwhelming, but sensitivity can also be your strength. You can use it as a superpower to perceive problems that you can help solve. You can notice warning signs. You can observe things other people don’t, and write or sing or share about them.

Your life is filled with possibility.

But people don’t understand you, do they? I know it sucks but I’ll tell you why this is also a good sign. It means you are unique. Uniqueness makes life worth living. Most people conform, but you do not. If you did, you might feel more comfortable but you wouldn’t be you. We need you.

We need you just as you are, sensitive, unique, and observant. And this is just a start. If I could sit down and talk with you for twenty minutes, I could tell you more about your strengths. Oh, you have so many! Each one of us does, because we are human. We have our own individual constellation of strengths, qualities that are light points in the universe like lots of little watch lights outlining our own special form.

Did you ever consider that you are a watch light to others? You may think it’s the opposite, that you’re a burden. People may give that impression sometimes, but it’s that way with most of us—we’re concerned about getting through our own days and forget to thank others for lighting up the way for us.

Take my little cowgirl friend. She’s gone now, and suddenly there are a lot of people sitting in darkness like a thunderstorm just rolled in. It turns out that she lit up a lot of lives. Think of it—eleven years ago she lit up mine just by being who she is and was. She lit up a lot of lives, but she didn’t know it. She didn’t know about her light.

You know what darkness really is? It’s the absence of light. It can disappear in a flash—literally. It’s temporary, fleeting, passing. If a little watch light makes the darkness in the depths of a cave go away, just a tiny thought will help light up your mental darkness.

Your life is filled with possibility.

Are there any watch lights around you that you can turn on right now to make even a little of the darkness go away? A nice thing someone said a long time ago when you were eight? The memory of a beautiful sunrise? A friend or family member’s hug? A song on the radio?

Grab hold of this thought and let it help you find the door out of the darkness, let it blend with your own constellation of light points. You are hundreds of watch lights, your unique combination of qualities lighting up the world wherever you go, even if you don’t know it. Let your watch light shine and keep shining. When you realize this, you will never have to sit in darkness again.

Your life is filled with possibility.

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