I'm going to write this fast and messy, because I need the catharsis.
Tonight I saw a post on Facebook that felt like a punch in the gut. One of the boys in my Birthright trip died by suicide in mid-October.
He was the first person I saw at the airpot in New York while trying to navigate the international flights terminal, which was under construction and basically a maze. He introduced himself and put me at ease. We sat next to each other on the 10 hour plane ride over to the Ukraine. He was my first impression of Birthright, and I can't think of that trip and experience without thinking of him. I am utterly shocked to learn of his passing.
Thinking of him brought back the sharp pain of last year's shock and grief, when I learned that an old homeroom student of mine had died by suicide. She was a sophomore. I remember her as totally and truly herself, someone who loved art and unicorns and had very distinctive handwriting - I can still picture it perfectly. I spent more than 90 minutes a day, five days a week with her for a year. She was literally the last person I would ever think would feel moved to suicide; if I had known, I would have done more. I can't help but think...what small thing could I have done to help her fight a little longer?
And that's the point, I guess. We rarely know if someone is truly struggling, because so often they hide it. Or, if they seek help, we don't always see how serious it is.
So this is just a reminder that if you need help, seek it. This link will take you to a plethora of helplines. If calling is intimidating, Imalive.org and Crisischat.org are two chat-based helplines. Use them if you need to.
Be a listening ear. Support your friends. Let them know you love them and care for them. Be present.
This news is devastating, but I'm going to remember him for the funny, smart, and kind person I experienced the trip of a lifetime alongside.