“The pain may never go away, but neither does your strength.”
He did it. He finally did it. It was all too much for him to bear so he ended it all, just so he could get away from his pain. He felt like the world was squeezing him like a fresh fruit, slowly having its claws dig deep into him, draining the life out of him. He told me how he was feeling but I never took him seriously. I always told him that “It’s not that bad” or “You’ll live”, blissfully unaware of the darkness that clouded his mind. What a fool I was to ignore the signs that were set up right in front of me. He felt like the world was against him and when he came to one of the few he trusted, I pushed his problems aside, unwilling to hear his cries for help. The light he tried so hard to hold on to dimmed faster and faster until there was none left. He was alone in his own personal Hell, waiting for someone to reach out from the shadows and shine even a flicker of light to scare away the darkness. He waited for someone, anyone to hear his shouts for help in the muffled shadows so they could aid him. He stayed curled up in a dark corner of his mind, hoping someone would notice and ask him what was wrong. When he almost gave up hope, he yelled with all of his might, praying to whatever deity that would hear him for the strength to continue. No one answered. His pupils became completely black as he allowed the shadows to consume him. As he sank into the liquid darkness, he took his final breath. The shadows took him that night. They swallowed whatever he was and whatever he could have been.
I remember hearing the news in a school assembly. None of us knew why we were being called down to the gymnasium, though I can tell you that no one was expecting to hear what we did. When we were all settled, the principal began to speak. As he announced the news, you could hear the gasps of disbelief sounding from many parts of the bleachers. Even those who didn’t know him lowered their heads, shaking them slowly. One of the school’s greatest students ended his life late last night. He closed the door to the bathroom, locked it and went to work. Taking out a kitchen knife, he slit each wrist five times, letting blood flow and stain the white tile floor. He then took out his suicide note and using the knife tip as a pen, signed his name using his own blood as ink. As he began to die, he used his last bit of energy to write a message on the bathroom wall. The message said “Never good enough…” and after that was written, he collapsed. His parents found him in the morning, soaked in a dark crimson fluid with a steel blade lying next to his lifeless body. They called 9-1-1 but they were too late. He couldn’t be saved.
At this point, many girls in the gymnasium were crying. The room was so emotionally charged that even the principal has tears beginning to swell in his eyes. He took out the suicide note that was left on the bathroom counter and began to read it. It said:
“I’ve had enough of this damn torment. I can’t trust anyone, not even my best friends. They said they cared yet when I needed them most, they just walked in the other direction and didn’t even pay attention to me. Not even my own family cares. I’ve been told to accept who I am yet who I am is the biggest waste of human existence I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet. That’s it, I’m doing it. Good-bye to all the people who have made my life a living Hell. I won’t be missing any of you so I don’t expect you to miss me either.”
I left the gymnasium bawling. My best friend killed himself and I wasn’t able to do anything about it because I was too blind to see what was going on. I locked myself in a bathroom stall and let out all of my emotions. Disappointment, anger and sorrow hit me all at once, creating an unbearable sensation that made me uncomfortable. I took out my phone and instinctively dialed the number of the one person I could tell anything to, knowing that talking to them will help me calm down. I began to tear up more as I hear the voicemail.
“Hey, you’ve reached Thomas Campbell. Sorry I can’t take your call right now but I’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You have my word.”
I hunched over and began to sob louder and harder than I ever have before. Without even thinking, I dialed the number of my best friend who can no longer answer his cell phone because he’s dead. I dropped my phone onto the floor and prayed to God that he would come back, praying that this was all just a bad dream. Yet no matter how hard I prayed, I knew in the back of my mind he wasn’t coming back. I knew that this wasn’t a dream but I was still trying to wake myself up. In a fit of rage, I slam my fist against the stall wall as hard as I could and a loud bang echoed in the deserted halls. I began to curse at myself, slapping myself across the face for not being a good friend. I hit the wall again and started to throw multiple punches, one after another, against the metal frame. I stopped after what seemed like the twelfth punch and looked at my hands. They were red, with some skin starting to peel off. I stopped hitting the stall and cried a little bit more. I began making deals with whatever God was up there, saying that I would do whatever it took to bring back Thomas. I couldn’t imagine a world without my best friend. It was impossible until that day where I had no choice but to live in the world I dreaded so much. I would’ve stayed in the stall all day if I didn’t have to take a Chemistry test. I left the bathroom and stumbled my way to class, my eyes bloodshot due to amount of crying I did.
I couldn’t concentrate at all. I failed my test, got in trouble with my teachers many times and could not get my mind off of Thomas. Everything seemed to remind me of him and I couldn’t go an hour without crying uncontrollably. After a few hours of this, I was sent home because I was such a wreck. When I got home, I went to my room and flopped onto my bed. I landed face first in the pillow and cried some more. I was stuck in a loop of mental instability and emotional breakdown which happened at random times. I would try my best to run from this dark cloud of pain and agony but it was no use. It followed close behind me and took me into a world of emptiness. There I was, unable to escape the prison that was my mind. I thought I could leave this darkness by sleeping and dreaming of a happier place, but I was sadly mistaken.
I was on a tall building, overlooking a city. I was above the clouds but I could still see the metropolis below. I looked around to see nothing at my level when suddenly, a tower the same size as mine appeared out of nowhere, standing proudly a few metres away from me. On top was a person with their hands in the pockets of their worn-out jeans, their dark brown hair blowing in the wind. Their glasses reflected the light of the sun off of the lenses and their black sweater stood out against the light blue backdrop that was the sky. I couldn’t believe my eyes as I saw Thomas standing on top of the other building. A bridge suddenly formed, connecting the two buildings. I ran as fast as I could across the bridge to be with my friend again but once I got to where he was, he disappeared. I looked behind me to see him standing where I once was with the same blank expression on his face. I began to run towards him again but the same thing happened once I got close to him; he would vanish and appear behind me.
I was determined to be with him again so I stubbornly repeated this process four times and on the fifth time, I finally caught up to him. I put my hand on his shoulder and asked if he was okay, trying my best to correct the mistake I made many times. He didn’t reply. I asked him the same thing but in a stronger tone of voice. Again, he didn’t respond. Finally, I grabbed his shoulders and turned him around so he was facing me.
‘THOMAS! Are you alright?! Answer me, damn it!’ I shouted at him, my voice echoing through the atmosphere. His long hair covered his eyes so I couldn’t see what he was looking at. After a few moments of silence, he said something.
‘…why?’ He spoke in a soft and quiet voice. It unnerved me a little but I replied with a caring tone.
‘You’ve seemed out of it recently and I’m concerned about you. I’m always here for you, Thomas. You can tell me anything.’
He took a step backwards and released my grasp on him. He continued to step back until his heels were hanging off the edge of the building. Looking at the ground, Thomas began to chuckle to himself in an evil manner. The chuckle grew into a dark and loud laugh and he threw his head back. When he began to settle, he looked directly into my eyes and that’s when I became the most unnerved. His body had completely transformed. The hair on the left side of his face became clumped, as if something was sticking multiple strands together. Three quarters of his face was drenched in blood and the red substance began to drip onto his shoes, creating puddles around his feet. His sweater was slashed at the forearms, exposing the gashes that lined his wrists, which were turned into a crimson-stained mess. He looked at me with soulless black eyes with a gaze which pierced my body. His lips contorted into a sickening smile that showed off his now crooked and chipped teeth.
‘Now you tell me this?’ He said with a menacing tone. ‘You’re a fool! You can no longer save me. I’ll see you in Hell!’
At that moment, Thomas let himself fall off of the building and into the abyss below. I yelled out for him and without thinking, I ran and jumped off the edge to follow him. I wasn’t about to let him leave me forever a second time. I began freefalling at an incredible speed, the wind becoming more and more deafening. As I was falling, the sky darkened. Once I broke through the clouds, my descent became slower until I started to float in the air, hovering in a dark void. I held my breath, thinking I would suffocate. I looked around feverishly for my friend but I couldn’t see anything in the darkness. My body began to crave more oxygen but I wasn’t sure if I could breathe here. I held it in as long as I could, hoping that my eyes would adjust to the black environment in time to find my dear friend. I began gasping for air but none was entering my lungs. I began to lose consciousness as my body sank like a stone deeper into the shadowy area hitting a floor that appeared beneath me.
I groggily brought myself to my feet and began to explore my surroundings. I was still in a pitch-black area and I was only able to barely make out any shape.
‘Hello?’ I call out. I hear my voice echo in the dark void. ‘Is anyone there?’
I heard the echo of my voice die out into nothing only for quiet yet intense whispers to take its place. They began so soft that I couldn’t understand what they were saying. But they grew louder and I could hear the words clear as day.
‘Don’t be so worried, man. Just get some sleep and you’ll get over it.’
‘You’re better off without her.’
‘You’ll get better soon.’
‘You’ll live, it’s not that bad.’
I placed my hands over my ears to block out the ignorant quotes of my past self now being shouted at me. I began to run in a random direction and I didn’t look back. I started to yell out too, hoping I could drown out the other voices with my own cries of nonsense. I did whatever I could to suppress the haunting melody of endless taunting. I lost track of where I was running and suddenly dropped into a pit. I fell quickly and landed with a thud. I picked myself up and heard the voices fade. I sighed in relief and protected my eyes as a spotlight shined directly on me. This gave me the opportunity to see where I was at long last. I was trapped in a room with light red walls with black graffiti sprawled all over the wall like a child’s colouring book. Most of it was poorly written messages overlapping one another but some were very easy to understand. They were all dark and depressing quotes such as “I feel so alone”, “Why am I here?” and “End my suffering!” It was all in Thomas’ handwriting and I could feel my heart sink. The spotlight shifted its focus from me to the back of the room where one large message was printed on the wall.
I walked towards it and placed my right hand on the bright red wall. I began to weep softly as the message “Never good enough…” was plastered on the brick structure. The final words of my friend’s life were there in front of me, as if to mock me. The spotlight began to dim until there was no more light in the room. I turned around to walk back to where I entered until I was stopped by a wall. A very soft light illuminated the room to reveal that I was trapped in a six foot high and two foot wide glass container. I began striking the container as hard as I could but I wasn’t able to make the smallest crack in it. I began to feel claustrophobic and began kicking and punching the walls, hoping I could break free. Yet I didn’t have the strength to. I couldn’t do anything to the container and fell to the bottom, exhausted and panicked. I began to cringe as more voices crept into my ears. However, they were no longer emitting from the outside; they were all in my head. Raspy and dark voices filled my head and I could no longer concentrate on anything else.
‘You didn’t save him…you couldn’t save him…’
‘Tsk tsk, some friend you are.’
‘Heh…maybe you should join him…’
At that moment, I felt something cold and wet at the bottom of the container. I looked and got straight up to my feet. Two dark liquids began to fill the container and I couldn’t find where they were coming from. I had no way to stop them from entering the same space as me. A pure black fluid seeped into the container from the left and a dark red liquid flowed from the right. The smell of blood became unbearable and I charged my whole body against the glass. The whole container fell onto the ground but instead of shattering into thousands of pieces, it remained intact with the liquid level getting higher and higher. I began screaming for help, praying that someone would come and help me. I looked around and saw a crowd of people surround the container. I yelled out even louder so they could hear my cries for help yet no one did anything. They just looked at me with a blank expression on their faces, watching me as the dark mixture of fluids filled the container. While lying on my back, only my head was above the murky liquid. I called out one more time, slamming my open palms against the glass barrier separating me from the crowd. I watched their heads turn to look at one another but rather than help me, they began talking to each other. I was only able to see that for a few seconds before my head was submerged by the fluid that had completely filled the container. I began gasping for air but only fluids filled my lungs. I felt my life slip away as I screamed with all of my might one last time.
I woke up screaming in a puddle of sweat. I was panting like a dog that had been running too much. I sat up and looked around to make sure I was alive and well and not in some nightmare again. I was in my room and I had only been asleep for an hour. I picked up my phone to tell Thomas about my freaky dream involving him but I slowly put it down as I remembered once more that he was gone, that the dream was all caused by his suicide. My eyes began to water once again as I hung my head, shaking it in dismay. I fell back on my bed and laid there, the cool breeze coming from the open window blowing through my empty mind. I couldn’t think of anything to do. I had lost all of my motivation to do anything; to write, play music, draw and hang out with other friends. All I wanted was to be alone and do nothing as my body slowly rotted away and sanity lost its grip on me. Without my best friend, what was the point of staying on Earth? I had no will to do anything other than to lie around and cry all day so if I left, nothing of significance would be lost. If I ended my life, it would get rid of my misery in a flash. After all, it worked for Thomas so why wouldn't it work for me?
Doubt and self-abuse came into my head swiftly as I began to question my very existence. All of my achievements, awards and friends meant nothing to me as it all began to become less and less important. I may have been able to impress my music class with how much I improve my singing in a year but what was the point if everyone else was still better than me? People say that I’m a good person but it doesn't matter because there are thousands of other people who deserve more credit than me. I’m just another teenager who drifts through life with no real goal, just living because there’s nothing else for me to do. I started to chuckle to myself, wondering if this is what Thomas went through before he ended his life.
Dark thoughts began to take control over my mind, influencing every action and word I came up with. The pain was unbearable and I couldn't take much more of it. First it was Thomas’ suicide and now it’s my mind turning against me and amplifying the pain I already had by an unknown factor. I finally had the motivation to do something for once that day. I picked myself off of the bed and walked to the kitchen. Opening the cutlery cabinet, I grabbed a steak knife and placed the blade against the upper wrist of my left arm. Taking a deep breath and closing my eyes, I slid the steel against my skin, embracing the cold pain that followed its graceful motion. I cringed from the pain yet it felt strangely good. I placed the knife a few centimeters below the first cut and repeated the same process, with the same motion as a violin player performing in front of a crowd. This happened two more times before I opened my eyes to look at the carnage. My forearm had four bloody marks lined down it, with drops of the same red fluid dripping from the knife’s edges. I breathed heavier and faster, realizing the gravity of the situation. Sweat began to form on my brow as I thought of something I had never thought of doing to myself before: committing suicide.
It would be a way to get rid of the agony I was feeling and there was the chance of seeing my best friend again. Plus, I already made marks in my wrist signalling me giving up, so I should at least commit to what I had started. Turning the tip of the knife to face me and placing its steel and stained edge against my stomach, I would impale myself to get out of this world of dark suffering. However, as soon as I was about to put enough pressure to do it, I stopped. I flashed back to Thomas, who didn’t have the will to go on. He left so much behind because of a temporary problem, leaving the people who truly cared for him. I put the knife down and sat next to it. If I left now, who would be affected by it? I thought of my family, my other friends, everyone who might have a connection to me. I washed the knife and put it back, grabbing a towel to stop the bleeding gashes in my arm. I stopped my selfishness not only for myself, but for those close to me…and for Thomas. He would have wanted me to continue.
He said no one cared. He thought he was alone in this world yet more than 200 people, friends and family alike, were there to see his coffin descend into the ground. They were there because he impacted their lives, whether it was a huge or small influence. Thomas meant so much to so many people without him knowing. I wasn't able to save him but I knew that he wanted me to be there for others and save them. When everyone left the service, I stayed behind to be with him one last time. I knelt down and hugged the tombstone that had Thomas’ name engraved on it. I thanked him for everything he did for me, hoping he’d forgive me for not being able to rescue him from his darkness. I promised him I would change the lives of others in his honour, to correct the mistakes I made. After that, I stood up and left the cemetery. Putting my hands in my pockets, I looked up to the sky and smiled, hoping Thomas was there watching me from beyond.
Even when it seems like you’re in complete darkness, there is always a glimmer of hope. Things do get better; it may just take some time. Promise me you won’t make the fatal mistake but for now, I bid you farewell. I wish you nothing but the best of luck and don’t worry; I’m watching and smiling as you make a difference. I’ll see you again when it is truly your time.
Written by: Sshakenbakee
This has been the final installment of the "Dark" series, a three-part set of stories that focus on the topic of suicide. Whether it be due to depression or heart-break, those events can cause us to think of drastic measures to end the suffering. I don't claim to be changing the world here but I do want this series to be something that can help people, stories which will be brought up when people are pondering about ending their lives. If you haven't read the previous two, here are the links to them:
Hopefully you've enjoyed this story and series. Please let me know in the comments below what you liked, what you didn't like and what I can improve on. As always, thank you for reading.