20 year-old soul

La Caída

Illustration © Francesc de Diego

In the early days when I visited the psychiatrist and the psychologist, I often met a boy in the waiting room of that center. He was called J. and was 20 years old. I was 3 or 4 years older than him. He was dark with straight, medium length hair and tall like me. It was simple. He was distressed when they talked to him for a long time. One day we exchanged impressions at the entrance or exit of the consultation. One day I invited him to the popular walk organized by the family association, thinking that he would like the activity.

The walk is always on a Sunday in early June. He came with his mother. I went with my sister, while my father was part of the team organizing the event.

That day, nothing was the same as before and nothing was the same after. The walk, about 11 kilometers, stopped half way, for breakfast a snack of butifarra, a drink and coffee. I did not part with J. We were talking about the way we did things. He liked the music of Extremoduro, the Extremadura heavy-rock band. We were walking and talking about our issues, how we carried the disease, etc. My sister, as she is, made very sly comments, and to a certain extent, I felt her presence, because I do not get along very well with her. Anyway, that day we could have ended badly, as always. But, anyway, we all went together: J., with his mother, my sister and I, much of the way.

At breakfast time, there on an open space next to a small chapel, all the grills were ready, all the organizers making sausages and sandwiches for the 300 or 400 walkers who usually come to each walk. It was here that J is told me: “You know something? I will kill myself“. I remember vaguely what I said: “Do not say that, J. not jokingly. One day I will come to see you and you can explain your problems to me. But now is not the time to talk about this topic. Enjoy breakfast and do not worry, J., try to have fun, now. Really.”

I felt him very distressed and anxious … As if it were his life in which I could respond. That day the walk ended and everyone returned home. I went to my house, where my mother had prepared a succulent lunch, as she used to do on weekends. It was a Sunday. The following Monday, at noon, I came home and my father told me: “Dani, they found J. dead … An accident when he was going to catch the train.” “Do you take me for stupid, Dad? J. has committed suicide … Just as he told me yesterday in the conversation, during the walk. “

I cried with rage and helplessness. I felt like a privileged fool, someone who did not give the deserved importance to the words of J. the day before, at the breakfast of the walk.

I went to the funeral. Many people from the region said goodbye to J. They were all representatives of psychiatric institutions, social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists, etc.

I felt powerless in the face of the very adverse reality of this boy. His father had gambling problems. His mother was unemployed. His family’s home was unfinished. He, J., was an only child. She suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He smoked hash. he listened to music, among others the group Extremoduro. It was only necessary to look into his eyes to realize that his mind was somewhere else. That he denied his self. That he denied his surroundings. That he felt rejected, discriminated and isolated from the world.

And I will regret once and a million times not to have extended my hand when it was just, necessary and essential that I had done … A 20 year-old soul was lost… It may not be my fault. But I will never forgive myself for ignoring his cry of alarm. In the background, that “You know one thing? I will commit suicide” was a cry of alarm. It was saying, “Help me! Help! I can not take this shit anymore! I need help!” And I’ll regret my whole life that I did not extend my hand in time.

It’s true, as one psychiatric nurse from the center says, “Someone who says he will do it, is very likely to end up trying.” So be alert! Of those who speak of suicide … Do not take it for fun. It does not say so. He says it because he suffers and has thoughts or ideas that lead him to think about the end of his days.

I do not want to give advice. But I have had thoughts of suicide many times that I have never materialized. Overcoming suicidal thoughts is not easy. I can say that in front of suicidal thoughts or ideas it is necessary to ask for a hospitalization, even if it is voluntary, with the help of friends, family, etc. A good medical treatment, a lot of therapy, listening, estimation, affection, understanding, time and help … It can be the beginning of recovery and the end of thoughts or suicidal thoughts.

In spite of everything, it is necessary to treat this subject with great sensitivity and respect, especially considering those who are no longer here among us.

Dani Ferrer

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