At the age of 16, my little brother took life into his own hands and committed suicide. It will forever be a day I’ll never forget as I often relive those exact moments over and over again.
It took me a while to be able to share my story and not live in the past. Sure, I still get choked up and often still ask myself those questions that may never be answered “What if?” or “What could I have done different?”
But, instead of focusing on those things I can’t change, I’ve tasked myself with trying to help other families as chair of the first ever US Charter for Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE).
If someone were to ask me if I ever saw it coming, I’d honestly have to say “no.” I don’t think anyone ever does. At least you don’t want to believe it could ever happen to your family.
Twelve years ago on just what appeared to be a normal August day, I received an unforgettable phone call from my mom. I dropped to my knees in complete disbelief. The following three words will forever be engrained in my memory: “Ryan attempted suicide.” “What?” “No way!” “It can’t be!”
As quickly as I fell to the floor I jumped in my car and proceeded to travel two hours back home. All the while, though, as thoughts were running through my head – tears, confusion, anger – I had hope. So I tried to remain positive. “He’ll be OK. He’ll be fine. My brother didn’t mean to attempt to kill himself. He’s only 16!”
As the dreadful drive seemed to drag and drag, finally we arrived at the hospital to only find my entire family waiting on the front grass. My heart sunk and vision blurred as I jumped from the vehicle in search of answers. I’ll never forget the look on everyone’s faces as they saw me. They all knew. As I ran out of the car, my father grabbed me and hugged me like never before. Just then it all sunk in. He was gone.
For the past four years, I have organized with several other survivors in the Oswego County community and we’ve created an event celebrating life and our loved ones and raising awareness about suicide.
You see, each year more than 30,000 people die by suicide in the U.S. and over 750,000 people make an attempt. These statistics are horrifying! Regardless of race, sex, age, where you live, suicide has no boundary and impacts every community across the country.
Suicide is not a topic that everyone quickly opens up and shares with everyone whether they’ve lost someone or not. But, I know I’m not alone out there.
On behalf of SAVE, I thank you for showing interest in our organization and we hope you will join us in raising awareness and educating, and together we can SAVE lives.
- Jamie Leszczynski
I hope that you will take a moment to read this article that Jamie has shared with me. It was written after the tragic passing of Robin Williams.