* I usually don’t post trigger warnings, but this post involves a suicide attempt, I felt it necessary*
Last week, Dave made a suicide attempt.
Maurice and I don’t know most people in our apartment complex. Partially because many don’t speak English. Partially because many are just not friendly. We do know Dave and his wife, though. They use to be our next door neighbors.
Dave has bipolar disorder and when he’s manic he used to become easily enraged. He and his wife would get in horrible arguments and more than once he’d put his fist through a wall or through a door. We would’ve been happy when they’d calm down except for the fact that their fights always ended in make-up sex. Our walls are thin around here.
The fights reached the point that they were almost evicted so Dave had some med changes that keep his anger down, but he often walks around like a zombie.
Making a Connection
After being their next door neighbors for years we moved across the courtyard from them because the apartment was slightly larger. The fights lessened, but they would echo around the complex so we were not able to ignore them. Thankfully, though, we were no longer victims of hearing their romps in the hay. I never had long conversations with either of them, but one day Dave was talking about medication and I opened up to him that I have bipolar disorder. We never became friends, in fact, I don’t like him much, but we were cordial and, after about a decade living here, we made a connection.
Last week, Dave and his wife were gone. Dave wasn’t taking his daily swims in the pool, and their lights were off in their apartment every night. Occasionally they would go away to stay at his parents so I assumed that’s where they were. Two days ago they were back and Dave admitted to me he took a handful of his meds and drank some liquor. They weren’t on vacation. Dave made a suicide attempt and he was placed in lockdown for ten days.
Fulfilling an Obligation
Dave and I stood outside and talked about it for a while. He explained his attempt and talked about what a horrible experience the psych ward was. I nodded my head and shared my experience. During our conversation I told him that I’m glad he survived and asked if he planned to “stay with us.” He assured me he was okay. I left feeling smug because I spent a moment to listen, to be caring, and knowing I’d been in lock-down for ten days, he seemed relieved knowing he wasn’t alone. But the next day something dawned on me – I didn’t ask him to reach out to me before he makes another suicide attempt.
l restate what I said earlier – I don’t like Dave. He can easily get on your nerves. But I had to do a bit of soul searching on my own. I don’t want him to think we’re friends. I dreaded the thought of him regularly showing up at my door, but searching deeper in my soul I realized what an asshole I was being. I realized I needed to help him regardless if liked him and he liked me.
This morning I fulfilled my obligation. Dave was in the pool and I waited at one end so we could have a discussion. We talked and my mission was accomplished. I got him to promise me that if he ever felt suicidal again, that he would come talk to me first. I assured him it could be anytime, day or night, twenty-four hours a day. He was heavily medicated so he didn’t show any emotion, but I know he understood me.
I don’t know if he’ll really reach out to me, but it helped me as much as it helped him. I reached out to a person I don’t like. I showed love to someone who I found irritating. Why did I do this? Because I realized we’re all in the same boat. There are many people in his life, but I offer one thing the others may not be able to – I understand. It dawned on me that we’re all in this together and we are obligated to help others get through their darkest times. I don’t have to like him, but I must help him the best I can. If not me, then who.
Where to Get Help
If you’re feeling like you’re at the end of your rope and are considering committing suicide help, please call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. Their number is:
If you prefer, you can even chat with someone on line. The web address is http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
There are plenty of people out there who are reaching out. Please give them the opportunity to help you.