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About two months ago, someone I cared deeply about took his own life.

He was a young man in his early 30’s – and like most everyone who knew him, I had no idea how troubled he was, as he often wore a beautiful smile on his face that made those around him feel very happy.

He didn’t leave a note, so we don’t know why he felt he needed to take such a drastic and final action. Because this happened after he had spent the night drinking heavily with his friends, I have wondered whether he really meant to do this, or whether it was an unplanned, tragic accident. We’ll never know for sure. What I do know for sure is that a lot of us will miss him for a very long time.

Many years ago, before I began my recovery from the prescription drugs and marijuana I’d become heavily addicted to, I too was depressed to the point of being suicidal. I didn’t really want to die, but I knew I didn’t want to continue the way I’d been living. I had been an isolative addict, using mostly behind closed curtains. My circle of friends had become so small that I didn’t even need to turn the phone off so as not to be disturbed – no one was calling anyway. Feeling very sad and deeply alone in the world, suicide began to feel like a possible option and, as time went on, a plan developed in my head about how I could carry it out.

I remember feeling very scared that I might actually do it.

But because I didn’t really want to die, something inside me fought to stay alive – and I ended up reaching out for help instead.

The first thing I did was call a crisis centre. From there, I went for counseling at an agency that specialized in suicide prevention. It was recommended that I attend some self-help groups and I’m glad I followed that suggestion because, at the time, it was exactly what I needed. The people at those meetings told me to “Keep coming back,” which was an invitation I desperately yearned to receive from others.

One day turned into the next day, and into the next and the next until, last month (July 2010), I celebrated my 23rd year clean and sober, free of all mind-altering addictions. Because I am a work-in-progress, like we all are, I can’t say I’m completely free of mood-altering addictive behaviors, but I now have the self-awareness to know when I’m using them, as well as the self-respect to want to stop. My life has turned around so completely that I feel like a totally different person than I was when I was contemplating suicide. I am so glad and grateful that I didn’t have to end my own life – as the saying goes, it would have been a permanent solution to a temporary situation.

If any of you who are reading this are feeling unhappy in your lives, whether suicidal or not, my hope in sharing my story with you is that you will reach out for help, as soon as you can. Don’t wait another moment! No one has to live a life of misery; there is hope and you can find a way out. Please let someone know that you are suffering and begin your road to recovery. I wish the person I loved had done that.

Goodbye, my friend – you are dearly missed by those who knew you.

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