Last week I got a text message from a friend. A friend who has become my brother over time.  There are a select few of us that consider each other brothers.  Family.  Often times we lean on one another for support and honestly, I think sometimes I take it for granted.  I take it for granted that when I’m going through something or need advice, I have a support system in place with my family.  I say I take it for granted because there are so many people that simply do not have the support of family and friends.  At least that is what I felt after reading his text.  It turns out that a player that he coached had committed suicide. I read the text message and I could somehow hear the somber tone in the text message so I could only imagine what was going through his mind.  For coaches, players are like their kids.  All of the thoughts of what could have been done or should have been done races through their minds just as they race through the minds of family and friends.  The truth of the matter is often times there may be no signs.  People become so adept at concealing their pain that it may go unnoticed.

Numbers Don’t Lie

The number of suicides in the US is steadily increasing.  In fact, statistics show that an average of over 44,000 people take their own lives each year. That is an astounding number.  Most of which happen with no obvious signs.  As cliché as it sounds, you really don’t know what can be going on in a person’s life.  Sadly, most people who are undergoing some sort of depression or whatever may be causing suicide to become an option, become quite proficient at shielding the fact that something is going on. It is hard to fathom the feeling of helplessness that I assume contributes to suicidal thoughts.  A feeling that undoubtedly haunts you and spills into your every thought.  The young man who committed suicide appeared to be the exact opposite of this.  Although I never had the chance to meet him myself, the words and pictures shared by his teammate and coaches seem to paint the picture of a happy young man, full of life and the uncanny ability to bring light into even the darkest room. This only adds to the idea that you just never know.  Behind his smile and electric personality may have been an untapped melancholy.  A source of pain that either no one noticed or one of which he had become superior at cloaking with his energetic demeanor.  In either case, it again makes me realize the importance of a good support system.  And even though this may not always save someone from suicidal thoughts, I am forced to be more gracious of the support system I have and be more conscious of those around me who may have not found the serenity in such a phenomena.

Checking In

I remember seeing an old commercial where a student was walking home from school and another student decided to walk with him and just from this small interaction, something happened. Without even knowing, he had saved the young man’s life.  In one of his text books was a suicide note that he had already written because he had planned to take his life that day, but the kind nature of a stranger had made him change his mind. You never know what someone is going through and you don’t know how much you may be able to help just by saying hello and offering a smile.  As the family, friends, teammates and coaches mourn the loss of this young man, I offer my condolences. And even though I have never met him, I am touched by his story. Rest in peace. Catch ya’ on the FLIPSIDE.

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