"Mark, did you notice Elizabeth in class this morning and how forlorn she seemed?"
Perhaps I will write her a comforting note, I thought.
That afternoon I wrote a note telling her that if she needed a friend, I was there for her. I put it in her campus mailbox.
Word traveled quickly Sunday morning that Elizabeth had committed suicide using strychnine secreted from a Chemistry lab. Sunday afternoon, still reeling from the shock, I checked her mailbox. My note was still there.
The above story is true, although her name is not Elizabeth. "Elizabeth" and I were fellow graduates students in Biology at Tennessee Tech University. I am often reminded in interesting ways about this heart-wrenchingly sad situation. Thursday mornings I volunteer at the front reception desk at our church. This last Thursday a good friend stopped in to drop off some materials for our secretary. She showed me a posted and returned 'Get-Well' card she had recently sent to an ailing, fellow parishioner. Matter-of-factly he had passed away and had never received his card. That occurrence for her reminded me again about "Elizabeth's" suicide and my unread card. Of course I felt as if I had been too late and if only she had read the card...well, you can imagine the rest of my sentiments. I still cry to this day whenever I remember "Elizabeth".
Suicide is terribly sad, and its ripple effects run deep and wide through family and friends. Depression and despair that leads down this path is serious business. I have been there... In the U.S. suicide occurs every 17 minutes, resulting in over 30,000 deaths each year. There are in excess of a half million ER visits annually for self-inflicted injuries. Suicide death ranks third for cause of death among young people, aged 15-24.
If you know someone who is troubled, depressed in any way, do not be afraid to engage them. Take a healthy dose of love and human kindness to them. It may be that this love and human kindness is just the 'ticket' in creating a small miracle.
Thank you all for your creative work in response to my prompt for this week's Saturday Centus. I hope it was challenging. If you have not done so, please check out the wonderful writing creativity by going to jennymatlock.blogspot.com
Peace and blessings