I Wish I Could Have Told Him…


nablo13daysixI haven’t slept well the past couple of days. I woke up this morning at the crack of dawn, something I’m not normally in the habit of doing. I tried to turn back over and catch a few more minutes of sleep, to no avail. My mind was racing. I’m feeling a little overwhelmed this week. And a bit anxious. When I feel like this, I don’t sleep well. As a result of not sleeping, I feel tired. And more overwhelmed. And more anxious. It’s a viscous cycle.

I hadn’t slept but a wink on Monday night because some depressed and drug-addled young man decided that he would shoot up the local mall. No one knew where he was or what he was up to. I live three blocks away and my house backs up to what little woods are left in this part of the world. I couldn’t help but think they would make a great place to hide out. So, yeah, there was that.

As it turns out, this kid had decided that “suicide by cop” would be the best way to end his life. That didn’t work out for him, so he found a storage area somewhere inside the mall and did it himself. Poor thing.

Yes, I said “poor thing”. Yes, I sympathize with him. I also give him a great deal of credit. Scary as the whole scene was, it could have been far, far worse. That he had the presence of mind and the restraint to NOT shoot anyone else? That’s amazing and, I think on some level, must say something about the kind of person he was before the drugs took hold of him.

I haven’t read much about him. I know he was twenty years old, though. Twenty years old. To think that your life will never get better at twenty? That makes me profoundly sad.

I wish that I could have spoken to him. I would have liked to have told him that the other side of addiction, while certainly not a bed of roses, holds the promise of a better life. I would have told him that there are many success stories in recovery. I would have looked him straight in the eye and assured him that he could be one of them. I wouldn’t have told him how difficult it would be, only how possible it was. I would have encouraged him to try, to be hopeful.

I wish I could have told him that.

photo credit: drugs

32 thoughts on “I Wish I Could Have Told Him…

  1. Ned's Blog says:

    Wow.
    Just…. WOW. So well written. So heart wrenching. So….
    Wow…

    Like

  2. […] the end of the day, the gunman proved dangerous only to himself, but no one KNEW that when the story was unfolding. Was it wrong of me, of others, to expect that […]

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  3. Aussa Lorens says:

    Your feelings are sadly uncommon, but I appreciate reading such a perspective. I work at a psych hospital so I see a lot of these stories– if someone had just been able to reach out and share a little hope, this story could have ended differently. Twenty is way too young.

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  4. elinwaldal says:

    I love your expressed empathy. I totally relate to your feelings too…thanks for sharing your feelings and I hope you can get some sleep tonight.

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  5. What a compassionate and powerful post. It has the potential to help so many people out there.

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    • javaj240 says:

      Thanks, Lois! Addicts often feel like there is no way out, no light at the end of the tunnel. I know that there is. I’m a living example. Lately, I’ve been thinking that, perhaps, my calling may be in this area. I don’t write about it all that much because I find “recovery” blogs to be a bit of a slog (there’s one out there that I love, but she’s the exception, rather than the rule). IDK, we shall see where life leads me 🙂

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  6. Sabrina says:

    I agree it was a waste. I’m always saddened by the thought that we can be surrounded by people and having no one to confide in.

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  7. I have a son who expressed suicidal thoughts when he was very young. Too young for it to be a learned behavior. I realized before he was a teenager that he was wired differently, and fear every day that he will self-harm. My husband and I work tirelessly to make sure he knows how much he is loved. This poor, poor, boy. And his anguished family. My heart is heavy.

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    • javaj240 says:

      I am very sorry to hear about your son. I think you’re right, though — some people are “wired” differently in both good ways and bad ways. That you and your husband “work tirelessly to make sure he knows how much he is loved” is probably all that you can do.

      My heart, too, is heavy for this poor boy.

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  8. Jacqueline,

    Last week, my brother and his wife got a phone call to reach their best friends ASAP. The call was from the police. When they got to the house, there was a body on the driveway, covered with plastic. Police combing the home. My brother’s best friend committed suicide. His suicide left his wife, their other best friend, distraught, angry and puzzled. Why? Her husband got a new job, lost weight, was doing yoga. The oldest son was home from college and spent a nice week with his dad. Now he came home from an outing with friends and found his dad on the driveway. Why?

    There was no note. There will never be answers. All everyone is saying is exactly what you said. If only we could have spoken to him. If only he would have said something.

    The boy in the mall left a note his brother found. It said, “The end.” His brother called the cops. He said knew his brother wouldn’t kill anyone; he just wanted to make it a bit dramatic at the end. We’ll never know if that is really the truth.

    Your post is beautifully haunting, and you are deep and sensitive, asking the questions that need to be ask. Why didn’t we all say something….

    Like

    • javaj240 says:

      OMG, that is so sad for your brother and this man’s family — and so very tragic.

      When people do these types of things we never really know why. Second guessing, while natural, isn’t really productive, either.

      I can’t speak to your brother’s friend circumstances, but what I’ve read about the young man at the mall — admittedly not that much — would seem to indicate that his addiction had taken hold of him and he saw no other way out. I’d like to think that it’s possible if he conquered the addiction, he may have made a better choice. Who knows, though?

      As always, thanks for reading and for telling me your story. Please pass along my best wishes to your brother.

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    • Oh, Cathy. That’s so terrible, I’m so sorry. In high school, my daughter’s good friend’s father committed suicide. It’s so difficult to know what to say in such situations. I just have to believe that somehow their tortured minds truly believe that their loved ones are better off without them, as unthinkable as that is. I’m glad the mall situation didn’t turn into a much bigger tragedy, but yes, twenty. Far, far too soon to give up on life. The question I always want to ask, from school yard bullies to those much older, “what is it you want people to know that you can’t talk about?” I feel it our secrets that eat us alive inside and cause some to either explode or implode. Either way, it’s just so very sad. Thinking of you both.

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      • javaj240 says:

        Kim,
        I could not agree more with your belief that our secrets eat us alive. What a great question to ask! If we all sat down and tried to answer that question — I mean REALLY tried and were honest, I’m willing to bet that it wouldn’t sound that bad once we said it out loud. We might even discover that other people share the same “secret”. I wonder how far we could go —as a society, a culture, a people— if we just let these things go.

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        • Dan Pearce (Single Dad Laughing) did something like that back when he came out on his wildly popular blog. He lost a lot of subscribers (as I recall at the time), but I think he gained vastly more. He set up some sort of secret box thing, where it could be done anonymously. I don’t know whether that’s enough to help very many people, or if it’s more the interaction and feedback that would prove most helpful. But I thought it was a very nice idea and a worthy effort.

          There was a wonderful Suicide Prevention Blog Carnival back in September that I participated in with a post about when I was a single mother. So many reasons people feel lost and alone. And with so much judgement perpetuating the media and the phones they live by… it must be very hard for kids these days to keep their heads above water, when those heads are so weighted down with so much pain.

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  9. Yes, I am very familiar with the story as well (live in Fair Lawn). Our children’s babysitter and her mom work at the mall. The babysitter was actually there and was able to get out quickly. The kid was a friend of a friend.
    I know what you mean about that vicious cycle regarding sleep. I just went through it a couple weeks back.
    P.S. Have not seen you on memyselfandkids in a while.

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    • javaj240 says:

      My daughter works there. Thankfully she was off on Monday night. I’m terrible about non WordPress blogs. Now that you have commented, I will be reminded to follow your link. That’s what I usually do! You are on my bloglovin feed, but I am terrible about lookin at that, too!

      Like

  10. It may be too late for this sad 20 year old, but your words here may reach the next that is currently thinking things will never get better. Powerful post!

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    • javaj240 says:

      thank you. Reaching people when they are in this kind of shape is tough to do. If my post were to help someone that would be great.

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  11. he was clearly punishing people in his life. so sad. i’m a survivor too, but i only tried because things hurt so much, i didn’t see any other way to end the pain. i feel so bad for him, too bad we didn’t catch him before he fell. but was that his intention, for people to feel that way? i dunno…

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    • javaj240 says:

      Oh, I don’t know if he was punishing people as much as I think he was just looking for a way out. Who knows, though. Still, just very sad. The consequences of his actions, while tragic for HIS family, could have been tragic for MANY, MANY families. I’m happy that they weren’t.

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  12. This is very moving javaj. And despite what people seem to think, suicide is not a coward’s way out. It takes a lot of bottle. I’ve tried twice and lost my nerve.
    And he didn’t take anybody with him

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    • javaj240 says:

      Well, first off, I’m happy to hear that you failed — in this case failure was a good thing!

      I agree that suicide is not cowardly. I think, and I’m speaking from NO experience at all, that it must represent an utter lack of hope.

      The fact that he didn’t take anybody with him, while he certainly had more than enough opportunity, says a lot about him. I truly believe that.

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      • Why choose a storage room in a mall? Just what was going through his head?
        I didn’t so much fail as lose my nerve, worry about what it would do to those around me. Gotta hand it to ur health service over here. They came up trumps when i made the phone call to them.

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  13. Nancy says:

    Yes!!! I wish you or someone could have told him, and the countless others who will end their own lives rather than face their demons. Life can be so painful sometimes, but it mostly gets better. Thanks for spreading the word!

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