Eric Zavinski – Editor in Chief
For three years and four weeks, I have been a member of The Clarion Call staff. At first, I was a staff writer for news and wherever else I was needed as an aspiring freshman journalist. Then, I was the news editor for two years. As editor in chief now, I have realized something.
It is very depressing to have reported and published news of so many students’ deaths over the past three years and counting.
More than one of the students – whose faces I always placed on the front page to memorialize them – killed themselves in the past few years and at least one was killed. It was with a heavy and dutiful heart from the collective staff that we made their last official university-printed memories reflective, and celebrative of their lives.
The death of a student, especially a fellow peer, is no doubt tragic. Even if you never knew the person, you feel the emptiness that one person’s soul had previously filled. Whispers fill the air instead, plaguing it with rumor, shock and mostly sadness.
News of suicide only makes it harder to take in and understand. Among all the heartbreaking actions I can think of a human doing in his or her life, taking his or her own life remains the most complex, and likely one of the most controversial.
For many of us – myself included – who suffer from mental illnesses, the notion of ending it all is all too real: somehow relatable, but still so impossible. Many of us say we will never do it: commit to something that we cannot turn back from.
Then something scary sits in if we let it. We realize that, for many of those who take their own lives, they were likely not thinking rationally at the time of pulling the trigger, downing that bottle of pills or tying the noose.
What remains after that?
It tells us, with higher conviction than ever before, that we cannot slip into that path of irrational thought. One thing often said by the ignorant souls who deem suicide as unforgivable cowardice rings true; they often point to the lives of the affected, the people with hearts still beating that live on in desperation, grief and regretful ‘what-ifs’ because of the ‘selfish act’ of the people who killed themselves.
This is an easy notion to understand: at least after someone takes their life, they are gone from this mortal coil, and gone for good at the worst, depending on belief; the family and friends of the perhaps forever gone person are left sorrowful, perhaps forever as well.
That grisly future for our loved ones is something we all must avoid. It would be bad enough to be lost to something outside of our control, and suicide is always in our control. So we never punch that ticket. That grim train can always wait, at least until it hits us head-on with us unawares. There is little reason to jump onto the tracks in front of a speeding bullet.
‘If only to escape,’ some may say, but your friends, family, those who care and I promise you there are other means of that.
If you cannot love yourself at the moment, then you can find solace in knowing that you do or can love others. Maybe you have to spare yourself – you might tell yourself, much like I and many have before – that at least for now, it is worth it to live in pain if only to spare the worst imaginable for those you love and for those that love you. Help can be on the way for us later, but only if we are alive.
Please, if you are thinking about ending your life, think about these ideas, and talk to someone that cares. If you feel like there is no one to help you, there actually is. You just have to take a chance on counseling or even a smiling face on campus, or through the city streets. It should be far less scary than taking a final action to end your life.
And fellow students and community members, if you ever think even for a second, that someone around you is showing signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior, step in. Oftentimes, there are signs, whether we want to admit it or not. While hindsight is 20/20, it is important to realize that vigilance is a cure for suicide.
Listen to those you love and also the strangers around you. You might just save a life.