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Monday, May 13, 2024
Written on August 10, 2022
One of my good friends from high school died by suicide in May. It feels like I just got the call yesterday. I was in the middle of cleaning my room. I still haven’t finished sweeping.
Greg was a terrific friend. He was brave and kind and he knew how to quack like a duck. We would be in the middle of some serious conversation about girls or college or life and he would quack. Sometimes he would interrupt himself with a quack, start giggling, then turn serious, apologize, and then quack and giggle all over again.
I was shocked when I got the call, but, sadly, not entirely surprised. Greg suffered from treatment-resistant depression for many years. One night after a party in high school, he attempted suicide. I don’t remember very well what happened after that. I don’t think we talked about it enough.
I don’t think I have talked about his death enough either. I told my boss because I needed a few days off of work, but none of my other co-workers. I told a few of my friends from college, but not all of them. So, here I am, on the internet, talking about the death of my friend from suicide.
In elementary school, Greg and I played on the same soccer team. I liked him. He was one of the only kids from a different school that I invited to my birthday parties. One year, the whole team signed up for a 5K race. It was the longest I had ever run. I finished in just over 27 minutes. Greg smoked us all with a sub-22 finish.
As a J.V. goalie, Greg saved dozens of goals. He would throw himself at the ball without any care onto the rocky field. He would end the games bruised and scraped and grinning. As an organ donor, Greg saved five lives.
If it were a non-mental illness that got him, one we understand better, like cancer, then it might have been easier. There might have been less guilt. There might have been some goodbyes. It’s hard, though, to tell someone that you have terminal depression. With cancer, it’s easy to prove that you’ve exhausted your options. You can do chemo and surgery and all the other drugs and treatments and then you die and then they say that the cancer got you. With depression, it seems like there’s always one last treatment you could try that would make it not so terminal. When depression gets you, they say you did it yourself.
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