My Friend killed himself

brown concrete building during daytime

The Mystery Salon is a special place where supporters can hang out and share experiences, thoughts, and ideas. I'm going to make this one open to all subscribers.

I'm not entirely sure why I'm kicking off our Mystery Salon discussion with a topic that can't get any more heartbreaking. Please share your thoughts here in the thread, or - if this public setting makes you uncomfortable - via email.

I wrote this post a while ago in an attempt to understand what had happened. I’ve rewritten, shortened, and edited it more than a dozen times, and I’m still at a loss.

Two and a half months ago, my friend killed himself.

One of my first reactions, after shock and denial, was anger. How could he do this to his partner and their children?

But then I realised that this question implied he’d been able to make a healthy, wholesome assessment of his worth in life, while evidently, the exact opposite had happened.

I had no idea he was suicidal. None. I would have described him as energetic, strong-minded, with lots of friends, and full of ideas for his business. Did I know he was struggling? Yes, but on the outside it looked just like the struggles any small farmer is having. We’re dependent on the weather, the economy, and the whims of people. We’re owned by banks. We have one of the highest suicide rates of all professions (I say “we” because my husband and I are small farmers, too).

For most of my life, the term "mental illness" was reserved for people in straitjackets and mental hospitals. Everyone else simply "pulled themselves together.” It was very East German, and that shaped me. It’s the reason why I have to keep reminding myself over and over that the mind is part of the body. And just like any other part of our body, the mind can break. No matter how hard you try to put a smile on your face. 

We all have the reflex to say, “Great! Thanks!” every time someone asks us, “How are you?”

What would my friend have told me had I taken an extra 2 seconds to ask, “How are you, really?” I’ll never know.

So I’m asking you today,

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