By Megan Low, Australia
My childhood friend Hannah Modra committed suicide on the 30th of January, 2008. It was the first day of our final school year, and she had just been elected school captain when she returned home and decided to end her life. The last time we saw each other was at my surprise birthday party at my house, just over a year ago.
We used to meet on a regular basis to study God’s Word together. She was my inspiration to memorizing Scripture verses, and she had always challenged me to think deeper with her difficult questions. Her walk with God was evident to all around her in what she said and did. We were only one day apart in age, but now I’m going to be five years older than her, soon.
As it turns out, she had depression. Both sides of her family had members who suffered from it. There are some things people don’t like to talk about because it makes them look weak, and I can tell you depression is one—especially when we come from Christian families. It’s a lie to think that Christians aren’t at risk of depression. She kept it a secret well hidden until the day she died.
I first got wind of the news story before I knew she was dead. My classmates knew more about it than I did. When I learnt that it was Hannah, I wasn’t completely distraught in an instant. Life had come between us, and to some extent shielded me from a harder blow than I might have otherwise felt if we had kept in contact with one another.
This distance later became a parasite, eating away at my conscience. I began to wonder if I had caused her death, however indirectly. Was it my fault that she thought and felt the way she did about things? Am I to blame for being absent in her life? Was I, in fact, the murderer? I was slowly going mad. Who knows the answers? God, so I was angry at Him. Who was my friend’s killer? She was. Who was the murderer? Me. Why did God let this happen? Why was she the one to die? Why couldn’t it have been me? I was consumed by unanswered questions and like her I felt like I had no one to offload to. If no one would talk about depression, there wasn’t any hope of even hinting to someone that I harbor suicidal thoughts. With all these thoughts swirling in my mind and life keeping me busy, I didn’t learn how to grieve properly.
Now, four and a half years later, I’m writing about her. For someone who is extremely opposed to the idea of exposing my weaknesses to even one person (although it’s likely this will change), it’s really saying something when I spend almost a whole day crying my eyes out—until it hurt to keep them open and I was sleepy from all the natural sedative I’d been producing with my tears. It was a good thing, though, to finally be able to let out a flood I’d kept bottled inside for so long. I know that I wouldn’t be able to speak to her again in this life. Things wouldn’t be the same and I’d have to get used to this new reality, somehow with God’s strength.
But because this has happened, I can offer comfort to others who have been left behind from a suicide. I can also minister to others by applying what I learnt from this booklet.
And if you are harboring any suicidal thoughts now, don’t feel alone or think you can’t talk about it. Now that I’ve brought it up, you can too. You’re not the only one who is going through the dark valleys in life.
Some helpful links:
1. How can you help someone who is thinking of suicide?
2. How can I go on living when I feel like I just want to die?
3. Is it possible for a genuine believer to be overwhelmed with fear and despair?