Dearest Kate: A (Very) Open Talk about Suicide

I don’t own one of her handbags.  I don’t own a single thing made by her.  But I know her name as well as I know the name of our first president. Because she’s that popular.  That well-known.  And how many times I had delicately touched her china in Macy’s, loving her simple, feminine patterns.  How many times I’d side-eyed her purses in the store as I pushed my cart past because I was still in the diaper bag stage.  How many times I thought slightly enviously of how much money she must have.

Money doesn’t buy happiness.

When I was in seventh grade, I was good friends with a boy in my class.  He was so kind, so gentle, so respectful.  I had deep feelings of respect for this boy, feelings that were bigger than my young age at the time.  I had a “crush” on him, and he on me.  At my first dance, we awkwardly moved back and forth across the floor, as middle schoolers do, nervous and excited at the same time.  He kept a respectful distance from me the whole time.

And then my dad received orders for us to move.  Overseas.  For three years.  That was a hard move for me.  I was settled and had a group of friends, which included this sweet person.  I had been asked to be on the school newspaper.  I belonged.  I felt needed and secure.  On the last day of school, my friend begged me to stay.  “Can’t you find a friend and live with them until your parents come back? Can’t you please just stay?”  He begged so strongly.  It struck me as so odd at the time, someone wanting me to continue to be there, be present, for them.  I had to tell him no.  He begged me to just ask my parents.  Please just ask them.

A month after arriving in Italy, only three months since I had said good-bye to my friend, I received a letter from another friend.

Dear Adrienne,

Today was a very sad day…[Our friend] killed himself.  His dad is a police officer, and at 5 am, he got his dad’s gun, went into his room, and shot himself….

I was fourteen.  I was so confused.  So devastated.  I felt guilty for not staying, not being there for this sweet boy.  That experience has stayed with me my whole life.  So many pieces fell into place that day.  Why he begged me to stay, why he hung around me.  Because I cared.  I asked him how he was doing…and I meant it.  I listened, I talked, I let him talk.  He never told me how badly he was hurting.  He never told me how lonely or scared he was.  He just begged me to stay.

He begged me to stay.

I have been rocked to the core by Kate Spade’s suicide.  I don’t see her as a fashion icon.  I don’t see her as a millionaire.  I don’t see her as a celebrity.  I see her as she was–a child of God. If that sounds cheesy to you, then that is exactly why we have the suicide problem that we do.

Kate Spade was a wife.  She was a mother.  She was a daughter. She was a human being.

I keep seeing posts on social media about what numbers to call if someone feels suicidal.  Once again, my feed is glutted with it.

PLEASE SEEK HELP if you’re contemplating suicide. Please. Depression lies! It’s a liar. There is nothing shameful or wrong about speaking up & asking for help: 1-800-273-TALK.

I had been dating my husband three months when I got the call that someone dear to us had tried to kill herself.  Only three months I had known this man.  Yet, I kneeled next to that hospital bed, begging God to spare her life.  Please let her live so that she can be at my wedding to this man, see my children. Please God.  And He did.  She’s here…not a day goes by that I don’t send up prayers of thanksgiving that her life was spared.  I cried as she entered the church for my wedding.  I get teary every time she plays with my children.  So, I have spent the rest of that time sending her notes.  Reminding her that I need her. That I love her and I need her in my life.  We have dropped everything to go admit her so she can get help.  We’ve driven long distances to go sit with her during emotionally tough weekends.  It was hard.  It was inconvenient.  But she is worth it.

Posting on social media is a start.  But there is more we can do.  Must do.  We have to love.

Give love.  Live love.

We need to be reminding these hurting souls, these aching souls, how badly and deeply they are needed. In person. Reminding them how strongly they are loved. With our voices. Reminding them with notes, gifts, our presence.  Offering to drive them to appointments, get them help and be with them when they seek it.  Showing up when they feel like the world has walked out.  Reminding them that they are not crazy for struggling with Depression and Anxiety.  Doing this is hard and inconvenient at times, but we are called to step out in faith and community.  We must help and be present to one another or we will find more people that hanged themselves from their bathroom doors, find more sweet children who shot themselves with their parent’s gun.

Get off Instagram, log off Facebook.  If you even suspect someone is hurting, go to them.  Help them.  If it’s bad enough, call 911.  Act.

Love is not patronizing and charity isn’t about pity, it is about love. Charity and love are the same — with charity you give love, so don’t just give money but reach out your hand instead. –Mother Teresa

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