I've been thinking about how I was going to broach this idea for a little while, and Twitter just informed me that today is World Suicide Prevention Day, so today this seems apt.
When I was 16, a stranger saved my life.
Heartbreakingly, she did this by taking her own. I wish I could tell you her story fairly; the person who she was for her short life deserves a tribute that I can't pay, and it seems wrong or unfair to her loved ones that her death affected me so strongly, when I did not know her. They lost a child who was also 16. And that's horrific. And that pain is something I know nothing of, yet writing this is still making me emotional.
This is a lot harder to write than I even thought it would be, because I need to give the child- because as much as we think we know as 16 year olds, we are still children- so much gratitude for my life and for helping saving my family and friends the horror that her loved ones went through.
I found Corey Craig on Myspace. Maybe because I was 16, maybe because I was mentally ill and lonely, maybe because at that time I needed to see what I saw that day, I was browsing profiles. Honestly, we all did it, we all added people we'd never meet and I was scanning through to find someone vaguely interesting, whose photos I could live vicariously through, much as I wouldn't have admitted that. This is a bit trite, but the first thing I noticed was Corey's smile on her profile picture. I could only imagine how easy things must be, how perfect her life must be and how loved she must be to wear such a beautiful smile. She was dressed in a cheerleading uniform and my diet of American, well, everything, had me pretty sure that she had it made. It's funny, the ways photography can deceive and how quick we can be to assume everybody's lives are better than ours.
The second thing I noticed was something she'd written, something about having depression and not caring what people thought. That's another thing I have Corey to thank for- I had never even heard of someone my age, with a mental health condition, being fearless in admission of it. That began my own journey to accepting illness as just another fact about myself.
The third thing, was that her comments feed was full of RIP messages. And that's when my heart sank.
At the time, I was about 10 days- actually, it was exactly 10 days. I had it planned in a way I never have since, even when I've made attempts- away from my own suicide attempt. An attempt that, in the end, never happened.
Because in reading both her own words on the page and the messages that people had left for her, the realities of what I was planning really hit me. I wasn't just planning on killing myself, but I was planning on killing a daughter, sister, friend.
More than that, I couldn't look at Corey's pictures and believe that there was no way things wouldn't or couldn't have improved for her. I couldn't believe that that beautiful smile- the smile that drew in even I, a stranger across the Atlantic- wouldn't have lit up a room again, or that her family and friends wouldn't have stayed by her side. I still believe that there is always, always hope and that's not something I believed before Corey. In the darkness, Corey showed me that it's never pitch black. In all the things I could tell without even knowing her, just from her page, it was clear that she was so, so loved and so, perhaps, so was I.
RIP Corey Craig. I hope one day we will meet and I'll be able to thank you myself.