Don’t Leave Us.

I don’t sleep much. So I scroll, peeking into lives, reviewing all the highlight reels and anecdotes, the cats and babies, the news and conspiracy theories. Tonight I read a post that stopped my mindless stationary scroll. Five words:

“I’m going to commit suicide”

…posted to a page where students and locals alike sell clothes they wish they hadn’t bought and post ads to get out of leases they wish they hadn’t signed. Then this. Those five words.

It had been up for 28 minutes when I came across it. 340 people had posted a response. A resounding “no” from a crowd of strangers. An enveloping, smothering, “don’t do this”, from a collective ‘no one I know’.

I perused through all the comments. Sympathy. Empathy. Stories of dragons slain. Mother’s tears on wrinkled pillows long stale and friends with empty chairs next to them at graduation…recounts of whole lives lost to the perception of hopelessness, loneliness and isolation.

I sat in awe of the power of those stories, that terrifying honesty. In awe at the vulnerability and pride left behind after someone clicked the little blue arrow, to send out the lifeline to a literally faceless soul, desperately in need of a reminder that he is no faceless soul.

You see, there was no vestige of this man crying out in the tiny square. Just that ominous shadow of a person where a face should be – I felt in awe of this too.

That maybe he thought he would continue unknown, anonymous in the crowd of garage sales, baby clothes and dog walking services. Who would care if this shadow-man left his soul next to post of a lot of dvds, $10 for all, $1 individually, the whole of it, worth so much more than the sum of its parts.

But a whole crowd came for him. Called him out. Stalked into his sparsely populated personal life to find someone, anyone, to reach him, to put their hands on his shoulders and say “don’t leave us”.

These strangers, so many of them clearly no stranger to this particular landscape of his life, lit their torches and called out with fervor, “we will not see you taken”.

They scoured for bits of who and where he might be, determined to not let him go until he was safe from that deceitful demon, beckoning him to just give in already. Posts of the hotlines, the helplines and those true life lines of “here. I am right here, just text me”.

As I read on, I thought of the nights I stood, David against a Goliath with a sack empty of stones and miraculously, someone somehow always had a spare pebble. Just one more that pushed me through the fight.

And I was so thankful. Not smug, not self-righteous, but deeply, profoundly grateful that I never had to exhibit the petrifying heartache and twisted bravery of telling thousands of strangers “I’m going to commit suicide”.

I am hopeful this man found his pebble and each person who came across those heartbreaking and terrifying five words, scrolled through that thread and found that they also matter. They matter so much.

I’m writing this to myself as much as to anyone who needs to hear it – even if it’s the thousandth phrase in a sea of “don’t leave us” pleas…hear it once more. Fill your sack with these pebbles of mine, these words I’m bleeding for you during my reprieve from that fight…

The darkness you believe has consumed you is a mirage. It’s false. Just take a moment to fight it, even for just one more minute, tell it that it cannot win you. Lift your hand once more, pull back the sling-shot with the power of your value, and throw your stone. That lie will fall over like a cardboard stage backdrop and reveal the truth around you. Love. Hope. A chance. A future.

Don’t leave us.

{Suicide Prevention – 18002738255}

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