Recently, an acquaintance committed suicide and I use the term acquaintance as loosely as possible since I'd met the man a sum total of twice. But regardless of the depth of our relationship, his suicide affected me greatly.
Cradling a baby at work, slowly and cautiously working on his oral motor goals, I overheard the classroom teachers talking:
"Did you know that *Ethan committed suicide last night?"
"Where'd you hear that?"
"Jenny told me."
"Jenny'd know seeing as *Ethan's her cousin."
"Yeah. Well he did it right in front of his momma and his girlfriend. You knew they'd moved in with his momma, right? After they'd gotten evicted from that apartment."
"He did it in front of them?"
"Yeah. Just up and pulled the gun outta the couch cushions and stuck it to his head and he was gone."
"Who keeps a gun in their couch cushions?"
"Ain't that kinda beside the point."
"I was just wondering."
"Well, I think suicide's gotta be the most selfish thing a person can do. They're not thinkin bout nobody but themselves."
Suddenly I was in 7th grade again. My mother was telling me how Jennifer had hung herself with a pink and purple jump rope and left a note that simply said, "I've always hated jump ropes."
I remember thinking about how tortured she'd always seemed. And how unhappy. No 7th grader - no child of any age - should have that much pain in their eyes. Part of me felt relieved for her. That she didn't have to feel those things anymore. I don't think it occurred to me to think about how it affected the other people in her life.
Funny that 15 years later, that thought should finally occur.