For Jeff

Earlier today I was out running errands, and as I was waiting for an order to be filled I opened my phone to scroll through twitter. I immediately noticed a tweet about someone (@fedge) I follow who was in possible danger, and if anyone who lived in Seattle could contact the police, please do so immediately. My heart dropped in my chest with a thud, and when I checked his tumblr, I did not allow myself to believe what I was reading:

Don’t worry. This isn’t a suicide note. I left a proper note at the scene of my death. And I’ll spare you that outpouring of sadness and grief here.

I just wanted to say thanks to my friends who may be reading this. I wish I could have done so intimately, one-on-one or whatever, but you do that kind of thing and people get suspicious. So thanks to my friends who put up with me and tried to help. To those who gave up on me: I don’t blame you. I only blame myself.

I did not know Jeff personally. His twitter account is protected, meaning he had to approve you if you tried to follow him. We exchanged a few messages when I requested to follow him last year. Just a hello, nice to meet you.

A couple of hours later I found this:

My friend Jeff is dead. He had bi-polar disorder and had a psychotic break last fall, losing his beloved apartment and falling into legal troubles because of it. I helped him move into the new apartment, the one he killed himself in, last December. I was able to pull up the address on my foursquare check-ins and lead friends and the police to the correct apartment. 

Those of you who have felt this kind of hopelessness (myself included) might identify with a lot of what he had written recently:

Now that I’m older and have reached middle age, I’ve been through plenty of ups and downs (mostly lots of downs). It seems like there isn’t going to be any progress made here. I think I’m stuck where I started out. I’m definitely stuck somewhere I don’t want to be.

Now I’m thinking that I might be over. There’s no joy in my life, no love. I haven’t had a meaningful relationship in years. I haven’t been in love in forever. Things I used to care about have faded out. All my friends are far away. And I’m stuck here—quite literally stuck—in a city that doesn’t give a damn about me. I’m tired of feeling sorry for myself. And I’m sick from this overwhelming sense of dread.

Lately it’s like the world is telling me to go, and I don’t feel like putting up a fight anymore.

This is beyond tragic. I guess I wanted to bring attention to it here primarily to reiterate that if you do feel this way you are not alone. And you can get help. You do not have to end the pain like this. And I say all of this as someone who tasted that dread in her mouth and wanted to give up, as someone who thought that it would never get better. But it did. And it will for you. Hold on.

Next week I’m speaking at the opening of a new NAMI facility here in Salt Lake, so these events are especially prescient. I wish I had known Jeff better, and I can’t explain why the suicide of an Internet acquaintance has hit me so hard. Just that it makes me so sad to know that he felt like he had no choice, and it was shocking to watch it unfold so quickly. Gone, just like that.

Please, if you see yourself in these words, do not be too proud or too afraid to ask for help. Just hold on.