Two years ago this month, Luke died. He took his life in the garage. The motor in his car kept running as the life in his body stopped. The paramedics tried to revive him. They transported him to the hospital. My sister was there. My parents were there. He was not. He was gone.

Survivor of Suicide Story in Our Runaway Reality Series

I am a survivor of suicide.  No, I didn’t attempt to kill myself and fail.  I survived a member of my family’s suicide.  And it is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

Two years ago this month, Luke died.  He took his life in the garage.  The motor in his car kept running as the life in his body stopped.  The paramedics tried to revive him.  They transported him to the hospital.  My sister was there.  My parents were there.  He was not.  He was gone.

The twenty-four, thirty-six, forty-eight hours following his death are a blur.  The family moved like emotional zombies.  The first day, the house wailed.  Boxes of Kleenex were emptied and replaced.  Someone was always crying in full body shaking sobs.  And someone else tried to remain calm to balance out the despair.  People touched.  They hugged, held hands and rubbed each other’s back.  The physical connections were signs of reassurance.  Tragedy had hit our family.  Although Luke was gone, we had to continue to go on… to eat, to sleep, to breathe, and to bury him.

The difference between suicide and any other death is the questions.  If someone dies of cancer, a family member doesn’t scrutinize herself for fatal mistakes.  With Luke, I kept replaying our last conversation.  It didn’t seem incredibly eventful at the time.  But hindsight forced me to reassess my every word and move to see if there was a pivotal moment for intervention.  What did I miss?  What could I have done differently?  Said differently?  Could I have saved him?  Could anyone?

Walking around the house, I found myself contemplating his last moments before stepping into the garage.  I touched a chair, an opened card, a doorknob.  I hoped the act of retracing his movements would shed light on his decision to leave us.  He left a note.  Not a letter.  Of course, that was his style. He was a quiet and gentle soul.  It wouldn’t be like him to talk about his pain or his anxiety.  And he certainly would never blame others for his decision.  Instead, he scribbled a few words on a piece of paper.  They were the equivalent of ‘I went to the movies.  See ya later.’

The thing about being a survivor of suicide is non-suicide survivors don’t understand how awful it is.  And although they know death will touch their lives, no one imagines suicide will force itself into a family.  There is no empathy, only sympathy.  And even that is delivered at a distance.  Friends didn’t know what to say to me.  And that was okay, I didn’t know what to say to them.  I was sad, angry, tired and guilty. I was so drained of any energy.  And for weeks, I avoided any gathering of more than four people.  When I finally went out to a party, I ended the evening having a meltdown in the entryway.  I was a damaged version of myself.

It took me a long time to heal, to laugh, to enjoy myself.  It didn’t happen instantly.  For a long time, I responded to the question ‘How are you?’ with ‘Luke killed himself.’  I felt that three word answer explained everything.  I felt horrible.  And I let everyone know it.  Eventually, when people asked ‘how are you?’, I returned to the normal response ‘Fine.  How are you?’  I started wishing people ‘Good morning!’ and  ‘Have fun!’  And I meant it.  I wanted life to gain a normalcy that doesn’t happen as quickly after a suicide than after death.

We hope you found this helpful. If you are in need, you can reach us at, on our chat page, on email, visit our forum, or text at 66008.

*Names have been changed to respect anonymity.


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