Suicide is personal. Only you pull the trigger or swallow the pills. To get up and tell a very personal story about suicide is brave. The pain is real, and I know. The reason I am writing this paper is because my Spanish teacher and I have very similar stories. Mrs. Alice Pollis’s son committed suicide a few years ago. Just like she said, suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Now, I would like you to hear a suicide story of mine.

I had a brother named James Adams. He was a cool guy. Up until about 1994 or ‘95, he lived with his mom in Augusta. His mom was a drunk and I guess he never really got the attention and support that he needed. When he visited dad, he was happy. He got to ride his 4-wheeler, tease his baby sister, and do “guy-stuff” with his dad. Finally he moved to dad’s house permanently. He seemed happier to me, but I was only 5 or 6.

In January 1995, James died. I was given an edited version of what happened that day because I was so young. Instead, I’ll tell you what really happened, the whole story. That day, James had some friends over and he had called up some other people who were on their way. I don’t know exactly what happened next or how to tell you. There are three possible scenarios; the police never determined exactly what happened. I was told that he was playing Russian roulette with the guys who were already there. But it might be a cover up, either from the friends or by James himself, to give himself a reason to die. I always suspected that it was suicide. He was always kind of sad, and James was too smart to play such a dumb game.

During Sophomore Awareness, Mrs. Pollis told us about the phone call she got from her husband. The devastation she felt I felt too. The memory of my dad’s call came rushing back to me. I had pushed it to the very back of my head and tried not to ever remember it. But it’s still there, as crystal clear as the day it happened.

I remember picking up the phone, because I loved answering the phone at that age, and my daddy was on the other end. He sounded strange and I couldn’t understand. He asked me normal questions like, how are you, and how was you’r day. Then he told me I was special and he loved me so much. After that he asked to speak to my mom and I handed her the phone, still not sure what was up. She soon started to cry. She looked at me and covered the receiver. She said, “Andee I need to tell you something. James died today.” The last words hit me like someone had dropped the whole house on me. I couldn’t cry right away. I had forgotten how. I had forgotten a lot of things at that moment, like how to breathe or what my name was. The words rung in my ears; I couldn’t believe it. Dad spoke to me again but I can’t remember what he said, I think I was in too much shock. Eventually the call was over and mom and I sat together on her bed with a box of tissues between us.

His funeral seemed like another world, all these people standing around in a musty old place I had never seen. I put a rose in the casket with James. I looked right at his face. You might think that seeing your dead brother would be traumatizing, but it wasn’t. He looked peaceful, like he finally wasn’t sad anymore. Yes, I cried. He was my big brother and I missed him.

It took me a long time to learn how to deal with the fact that I’d never see him again. To this very day I wonder about him. He would be 26, but would I have a sister-in-law by now? Would he have already gone to college? Would he have kids yet? Would he have gotten help for his depression? What would he be like now? All these questions I’ll never get answers to because he chose another solution to his problems.

I can’t say I enjoyed Mrs. Pollis’s speech because anything that makes you cry is not enjoyable. But it did force me to take a good hard look at my own life and experiences. I also think I gained a higher level of respect for her, too. Grief is a hard thing to get through, and some people never do. Just telling her story once is admirable, but several times. . . I don’t think there’s a word for it.

So, I would like to say, thank you Mrs. Pollis. You gave me enough courage and inspiration to talk to my parents about James so I could write this paper. You also helped me look at my life and realize that it’s “not that bad.”y

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