Was I a terrible friend?

After suicide stole someone close to me, I felt guilty and depressed. Read how reaching out helped me see I wasn't a terrible friend.

young man sitting in lounge chair resting elbow on knee looking down
It felt like a brick wall had fallen from the sky, blocking my way and I'd been given a toothpick to dig my way through. I'd never felt so overwhelmed
Suicide stole a friend of mine. As cliched as it sounds, suicide really did steal a piece of everyone who knew him that day.

I'm 20, and I'm sitting at a friend's funeral. I didn't think this was coming for another 50 years. Ten days earlier, we'd been chatting away, making plans to catch up. The next day, he took his life. He didn't seem himself the weekend before he did it. I knew he wasn't happy and we were worried. I asked him if he was going to "do something silly" but he said he "was fine," so I assumed he was. I spoke to him the next day and he said he was great, and we organised to go to the football the next week.

The following day, driving to work, I heard there was an accident nearby and someone had died, a suspected suicide. Something told me it was Dan, but common sense took over. Friends of mine don't die, and they sure as hell don't commit suicide. I sent him text messages from work, no reply. I figured he was just busy.

I finished work, walked outside, and my mum was there. Odd. She'd been phoned, and had come to tell me and drive me home. "It was DAN." Everything hit me. Anger, frustration, guilt and shock.

Was I a terrible friend?

I didn't know what was going on. I had to give a statement to the police, something that scared me. I thought people would think I was a terrible friend for not speaking out when I suspected he might do something like he did. I was mad at Dan for putting me in this situation. Why didn't he speak out? I'd never faced anything like this, and for once, I didn't know if I could handle things on my own. I had a million things going on in my head and I really needed to get it out.

I'm not a big fan of deep and meaningful conversations, but I knew I had to talk to someone. I started to talk to a mate in Sydney. I stuttered my way through the story and "how I was feeling" but it was such a relief to get it all out of my head. I told everyone else that things were fine, and hid my feelings behind laughter and a bubbly, "no worries" exterior. I was still struggling but things seemed so much easier with someone behind me who knew the story. 

Things changed

As with life, things changed, and I stopped talking about things. Things were piling up on me big time. It felt like a brick wall had fallen from the sky, blocking my way and I'd been given a toothpick to dig my way through. I'd never felt so overwhelmed. One day when things all seemed too much, I took a packet of prescription painkillers. Death scared me, but I'd had enough of the crap going on in my head. I just didn't care what happened. I wasn't crazy, I was just really sad.

Jump forward a couple of days. I'm sitting in a shrinks office. My worst nightmare sitting in front of me asking me "how I was feeling." The consultation seemed to drag on and on. He was my dad's age, and talked to me like I was ten. Needless to say, I wasn't keen to head back to his nicely decorated office.

Feeling positive

Strongly encouraged by my GP and a few awesome mates, I went and saw another psychologist. He was young, relaxed and seemed pretty cool compared to the last guy.

I walked out of the first consultation three months ago feeling positive, and have been going back since. Some days are still tough, but they're not nearly as overwhelming. It was a tough lesson to learn, and in circumstances, I don't wish on anyone, but I've learnt that 'reaching out' really is one of the most important lessons anyone can learn. If only Dan had learnt the lesson.

Last reviewed: 16 February, 2014
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