I honestly am not sure where to start this all off. This is a very long story, just to let you know. For starters, I am a 20yo male. I’ve dealt with severe clinical depression, anxiety, and anger issues since I was 11yo.
I am a current EMT and am a Paramedic student in Maryland. I joined the fire department when I was 17, and have been an EMT since I was 18.
One of my first calls as a 17yo EMT student, it had been a pretty tough day. We had already run a cardiac arrest, and I was in general having one of my down days. We get dispatched for a gunshot wound, and I had recognized the address as that of my best friend’s. He and I both being avid hunters and gun-nuts overall, I thought maybe he had an accident.
I hopped on the ambulance and we went lights and sirens to the scene. When we got there, his sister, whom was my age and we both liked each other at the time, immediately runs out of the house down the front lawn and practically tackles me, sobbing uncontrollably. At this point, I knew something bad had happened.
***NOTE: THIS NEXT PORTION WILL BE DESCRIBED GRAPHICALLY. PLEASE READ AT YOUR OWN RISK***
When you enter the front door of my friend’s house, it leads directly into the living room, and there is a doorway in one corner that leads to the kitchen. It’s not a very big house, to say the least.
I walked in the front door, and immediately noticed blood spatter with brain matter on the wall in the living room, next to the doorway into the kitchen, and there were already police on the scene as well. As soon as I saw the blood and brain matter, I instantly knew what I was about to walk in to, though I denied it to myself. But once I walked into the room, any denial was crushed into non-existence. There, on the floor of the kitchen, was my childhood friend, with the back of his head missing, and blood and brain pouring from his mortal wound. His favorite gun in his collection, a .410 revolver some may know as “The Judge”, lay a few feet away from his lifeless body. I stood in the doorway for what seemed like hours, until the man who I was being trained by told me to radio dispatch and call in a priority 4 (DOA). Now normally I do not show emotion on any scenes as to remain in a calm mental state to treat my patient’s, and have become very good at it. But I looked at him, my eyes glazed with tears building in the corners, and then I could see in his face that everything clicked, between my silence and the shocked look on my face, to my friend’s sister running up to me as I consoled her. He gave me a sad look and nodded, and he called it in for me. I felt myself falling back, and reached for the wall behind me, where I leaned against it and slid myself down onto my haunches, covering my face with my hands as tears streamed freely down.
It was at that moment that I heard a shrill scream, and I had realized that his mother and father had been in the kitchen with us this whole time. My friend’s father and mother were on their knees, her face buried in his chest and sobbing/screaming, and him looking between me and what had once been his only son and my best friend with red, swollen eyes streaming with tears. She had screamed because she looked up after a while of her face being against her husband’s chest and saw that I was there. It was at that point where I lost it, falling back on my rear and hanging my head, sobbing. My friend’s sister came over to me at one point and sat next to me, holding my hand and sobbing. I had been through so much with my best buddy. From starting kindergarten together, and from that point ending up in almost all of the same classes as each other, to hiking half of the Appalachian Trail with each other, and so much more. And it was all over. I would never see him again. It was about 2 months before we graduated high school together.
In the note he left, he pertained it mostly to his family and myself. “I’m sorry, but I think you’re the only one this will hurt.”
That Monday, I entered my school, wearing my “idiot #2” shirt that I wore with him every Monday. Except I was missing “idiot #1”. I felt the entire school hallway go silent, as there were people standing in the hall, on the stairway going to the second floor, and some of the faculty standing at the entrance to the office, and I felt the tears begin to stream down my cheeks. At this point, I began to see other people crying as well, while some were audibly sobbing, with some people just hearing about it for the first time. I got many looks of sadness, understanding, and some of pity. I barely made it through that day, and it seemed as though none of the teachers were interested in teaching that day either, as every single class we watched a different movie.
I went to my friend’s funeral, which they were able to do open casket by cleaning up and covering the parts of his head where the wound was. I had been asked to give a few words some days before the funeral. I had been sitting in the front with his family, and when I was asked to come up to the podium, I stood there looking down for a few minutes at him. I looked down at his resting face, but all I could see was the sad, bloody, broken face that I had seen not but a couple weeks prior. As I began to speak, I had to stop 3 or 4 times to keep myself from breaking down. I talked the whole way through tears with a wavering voice. I shared stories of our childhood, growing up together, being idiots together, and all the fun times we had together, as well as the not-so-fun times. I shared the story in lighter detail of that call I ran, from how his sister ran to me, to when I collapsed on the floor. As I looked around the sanctuary of the church, I realized how many people were there. Keep in mind this church is massive and the limit for people per the fire department (which I helped with) is 850 people, and all the pews were packed, and there were people flooding the floor, the three sided balcony, and I saw that the front doors were opened with people standing outside, many from the school. I saw all of his family, local shop owners, teachers, fellow students, teammates, and the entire Fire Department was there. I was told later that over 900 people were originally counted, with possibly over a hundred more slowly trickling in throughout the funeral.
Sometimes, I wonder if he had known how many people cared, would that have changed his mind. Would he still be here today.
I post this 1) to get it off my chest, 2) to let you know I know what it’s like to feel this way, and 3) I can tell you what it would most likely be like if you killed yourself. After seeing the way his family, classmates, teammates, and even people who didn’t know him that well reacted, as well as my reaction, people do care, even if they don’t always show it. For those wondering why I am still in the Fire Department, my friend’s suicide, while tragic and heartbreaking, encouraged me to continue helping others who are in their darkest hours of need. It has strengthened me to be able to see that I do everything I can for my patient’s, no matter how dire their situation or condition is.
Thank you for reading this, and just know that you are loved. Don’t be afraid to cry out for help. It doesn’t mean you’re weak, it just means you’re very strong.