Losing a Best Friend to Suicide has been one of the Hardest Parts of Growing Up.

Darkness into light - suicide awareness

Losing a best friend to suicide has been one of the hardest parts of growing up, and now almost four years on I’ve participated in my first ‘Darkness into Light‘ walk.

I took part in the Galway City ‘Darkness into Light’ walk early this morning, where I walked with thousands of others who were all there for the same reason, to help fight against the stigma of mental health and to promote suicide prevention.

‘Darkness into Light’ has always been something I had set my mind on doing but never actually did it and then my whole life turned upside down in 2014. Part of my life was crushed into tiny fragments when one of my best friends committed suicide in September 2014, almost a full month after another former classmate of ours had also taken his own life.

The day I was told my best friend had committed suicide was one of the hardest days of my life. It’s a day I will never forget. Our other mutual best friend and I weren’t exactly on ‘talking terms’ at the time but that quickly changed as we turned to one another to seek out support as we mourned the loss of our friend.

I’ll forever remember the day I got the phone call. Sometimes it feels as though it was yesterday. The sun shone brightly as I enjoyed a few snaky pints with my college friends when my phone began to ring.

“Why is she ringing me? We haven’t spoken in so long,” I thought, when one of the girls said, “Answer it she clearly wants to talk.”

I moved away from our table of drinks and all the noise that was being made so that I could hear what she was saying a little bit clearer.

My heart stopped beating for a few seconds when I heard the words, “he’s gone, he committed suicide.”

To this day I don’t think I’ve ever fully accepted the fact that he is gone. He had been there for us no matter what, be it something small or something very big, he always supported us. What has hit me the most is the fact that he had always been the glue sticking us together even when he was suffering in silence.

He was so young, having just completed his Leaving Certificate a short three years earlier. Like all of us, he was only really just starting out in life and should have been looking forward to his future as a doctor but now he doesn’t have that chance.

Although he is always here in spirit it doesn’t make things any easier, knowing how different things could have been if he had just spoken about issues that may have been troubling him.

I will forever wonder why he never came to one of us, to unload the burden that was upon his shoulders. Why did he feel the need to keep everything bottled up inside? For the past four years I have struggled to come to terms with this, I have often wondered what if he had just told one person? Would he still be here if he had spoken to someone? He was one of my best friends, yet he kept his problems tightly squeezed to himself.

Initially it angered me, then it saddened me when I understood the reality of the situation. It frustrated me and shattered my heart into little icicles tearing me apart until eventually this year, I have come to terms with the fact that I can’t change what has happened. I can’t bring him back and I will never get the chance to thank him for being one of my best friends or for being there for me at every beck and call.

This year I chose to do ‘Darkness into Light’ for my best friend. I felt that I was finally ready to go out and spread a message. That message being, No matter how obsessed we are with our own lives and how busy we are, we do need to take time out in order to check up on each other. Taking five minutes to check up on friends and family could be the difference between life and death for some people which is why it is of critical importance to look out for one another and for people to realise that there are plenty of support services available.

Depression and mental health issues are something that have hit every home in Ireland, be it directly or indirectly and it is of extreme importance that the issues are spoken about. Pieta House, provides a free, therapeutic approach to people who are in suicidal distress and those who engage in self harm.

Pieta House, opened it’s doors in 2006 in Lucan, Co. Dublin and since that day they have seen and helped over 30,000 people in suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm and established twelve subsequent centres across Ireland.

Their flagship fundraiser, Darkness Into Light, is an event that takes place as we enter into summer and our spirits are being lifted.

Darkness into Light is very much about hope and hope is something we endeavour to give each person who comes to us in their time of need. We help them feel more hopeful about the future as we continue to tackle the grave issue of suicide and self-harm in Ireland.

To my best friend, I will forever miss you, but ‘Darkness into Light’ has finally helped me on the road to easing the pain that has been struck so deeply within.