CW: This essay discusses suicide. If you or someone you know needs immediate help, please call 911. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting CONNECT to 74174. The world need you.
By Alyssa Limperis
I get obsessed with suicide. I don’t want to kill myself. I don’t want anyone to kill themselves. But whenever I hear that someone committed suicide, I can’t get it out of my head. I get obsessed with them. I read everything about their life and try to understand when death became their only option. When death became an exhale to an unthinkably laborious inhale. When was that moment and was I around to witness it? Was I deaf to the noise of the final last gasps?
It’s strange but once someone dies of suicide, I start expecting to see them everywhere. I look for them on the streets, waiting to hold them and see them in peace and say it’s ok. I love you. So many of us love you. We are holding your pain and overnight, it has become our own. We didn’t know it had gotten this far but you are not alone and we will hold you until the pain dulls. I look for these people on the street to tell them how important they are to us and how the days without them have felt like months. But they aren’t there. They won’t be there. Instead, we now have to find them and carry them with us through the remainder of our journey here. We will have to see them in a memory, find them in a song. We will keep them with us but they don’t get to stay.
I think I start looking for them everywhere, expecting to see them, because for the first time, they feel alive to me. For the first time, they seem accessible and familiar. I finally feel like these are people who I can talk to about the numbness and the pain. They are human to me now. These are people who I didn’t know spoke my language but now they have broken the silence and said they are not ok. They have announced their unbearable discomfort with the world. I look for them to give an empathetic nod, to lock understanding eyes at a party, to hug like family. I look for them because they finally feel real to me. But as real as they are, they’re not there anymore. The first time I am seeing them, really seeing them, they are gone. The first time I am feeling their pain, it is too late.
I can’t go past the George Washington Bridge without closing my eyes. I don’t have the courage to think of my friend leaping. I don’t have the strength to think of the moments before. It’s been four years and hearing his name gives me the same ringing in my ears as when I first heard the impossible news. He is gone but I can’t shake the desire to beg him to stay. He is not here but I feel him here more than I did before. His suicide incapacitated me because I so looked up to him. But suicides always rock me hard, even if I didn’t know the person very well.
Maybe I feel a weird sense of empathy with the deceased. Maybe I feel the incomprehensible pain of the family left behind. But maybe I just wanna say hi to the person in a way I never was able to before. I want to say hi to them not as polite strangers but as sisters and brothers. As people who get each other and can say how fucking shitty they feel and how many hours they’ve spent in bed that weekend and somehow find a way to laugh about it together. I feel the pain of a deep friendship that never was but could’ve been. I feel the pain of wondering if I could’ve stopped them. Could’ve been the voice that whispered one more day. But I can’t. I am here and they are there and I can’t help that now. But what I can do is listen to friends a little harder, ask questions a little more deeply and see people a little more clearly. All I can do is look for these people everywhere while they’re still here.
Alyssa is an actress and comedian in NYC. She is a head comedy writer and comedic actress for Condé Nast Entertainment’s, The Scene. She has performed stand-up and improv both in NYC and on the road including in the Brooklyn Comedy Festival, the Del Close Marathon, Second Best Comedy Fest, Cinderblock Festival, New York Comedy Club and the Providence Fringe Festival. She is a voiceover and commercial actress with Paradigm Talent Agency. She has been featured on MTV, Elite Daily, Lifetime, Glamour, Vice and Paste Magazine. She is originally from Seekonk, MA and also has no idea where that is.