Yesterday I got some very unfortunate news. I woke up to a text from my cousin saying that one of my aunts had taken her life. This news took me just about all day to process. I'm not even sure of the details or circumstances as of yet. Perhaps I'm still processing it all, but hey, that's what writing is for right?
A little bit of backstory, my aunt Cathy was actually my youngest aunt. She was even younger than me! I'll explain. My mom's father was estranged from the family for a number of years. One day, my mom decided to look for him. She was very good at genealogical tracking and was sort of like our very own personal family historian (she had the tree traced all the way back to slavery actually.). This was all quite a fete looking back, as these were pre-Google days. Anywho, she found an address for my grandpa and took the whole family to go meet him. While meeting our grandpa for the first time, my mom discovered he had since had other children; aunt Jill and aunt Cathy.
My mom being the very loving person she was, really wanted to help integrate the entire gang. Aunt Cathy was closer in age to me and my sisters, so we would all sort of hang out with her more so than my mom and older aunts. She was always a bit different, but she was our family. After I moved from Michigan, I hadn't had much contact with my extended family besides Facebook. From time to time, the statuses she would post left me with an eerie feeling. They actually seemed very suicidal looking back on them all. I had no idea what to say or do about it.
Sadly, I am not new to the subject of suicide. I've been deep in the Internet community for quite a few years, and I've accumulated a bit of a following. I remember getting a message one time from a young girl who watched my videos. She said she loved the way she could see my ribcage, and that she was starving herself so she could look like me. I received an email one day from a guy who really wanted to move to NYC. He said his home life was unbearable, and that he wanted to harm himself and his parents because of it all. I got a message recently, a poem of sorts, about someone wanting to "end it all" because of a romance gone bad. A very close friend of mine in NYC has also made threats on their own life. I even helped to stay with them until the sun came up to talk and sort of "keep watch". The thing is, I honestly don't know what to say to people in situations like these. The low-empathetic person in me usually just can't relate no matter how hard I try. The advice I WANT to give is 'snap out of it'. I know that's a terrible thing to say though. I'm aware that sometimes the things we do say to try and help can make situations even worse. I don't want to say the WRONG things, so it makes me not want to say much of anything at all.
I'll never fully understand how it could get so bad in someone's life that they feel ending it is the only solution. I do know that the feelings they have are quite real. We all have a lot on our plate of life, it's stressful for everyone! Other people's issues often never really seem as important as ours. There is a quote I like to think of in these times; "to whom much is given, much is required". I am generally a happy go lucky girl, with FAR fewer problems than a lot of people in the world. I have been given a platform to reach beyond the scope of just myself thanks to the Internet and social media. Whether I like it or not, there are those who look up to me. There are friends and family who are sometimes reluctant to reach out but could use all the encouragement they can. Whatever I've got going on in my life, I can mostly deal with it, thankfully. I was made strong so that I could help others who may not be. How could that ever be a burden?
I may not be the most professional or best person to reach out to for such life changing advice, but if you ever feel like this, talk to someone. At times we all feel hopeless, helpless, or an excess of other raging emotions, but there is always something that can be done about your situation. If you have an abundance of joy in your life, share it with everyone you come in contact with! You never know who needs it the most.
P.s. A month ago, I was looking into volunteer work. There was a hotline center that I was interested in. I should look back into that.
P.p.p.s. Still processing...