Trigger warning: This article mentions suicide and people who died by suicide.
This article is subject to the Conquer with Na’Kole Disclaimer.
To know me is to know that I will always do what I believe I’m being led to do. Call it God, intuition, The Divine, whatever you want to call it – my best work is done and my best results are received when I listen AND obey.
I was on Facebook doing the normal activity of scrolling my life away, and I came across a post about a young lady named Dominique Chandler. Dominique died by suicide on February 19, 2021.
Here’s a quick word of advice. When you speak of suicide, please do not use the term “committed suicide”. This term is very stigmatizing and it often causes the people left behind to feel a lot of shame. It gives the appearance that the person who died “committed” a crime or did something “wrong”.
Suicide is the final symptom of a mental illness. You know how when kids are young, you have to tell them not to touch the hot stove, and how when they (inevitably) end up touching it or something else that’s hot, it creates a memory in their brain that causes them to “put on brakes” when they get to something hot so that they don’t touch it and burn themselves again?
When someone is suicidal, the “brakes” in their brain stop working. This is why you hear survivors of suicide attempts (like myself) say that as soon as the attempt is made, we instantly regret it. Our survival instincts kick in AFTER the “brakes” on our brains have failed us.
I’ll link an article that explains this phenomenon below. Let’s get into the story.
Picture it. Raleigh, North Carolina. September. 2012.
I was scrolling the abyss of the Facebook newsfeed, and I had the idea to reach out to Dominique’s mentor and get her to talk to my community about suicide. She agreed to come on my weekly conference call and share her story about Dominique and their lives together.
It was incredible.
While I was doing research about suicide and suicide prevention, I came across the story of a young lady named Eden Wormer. Eden died by suicide on March 7, 2012. She was bullied at school and she just couldn’t take it anymore. She wrote about how she loved “all my haterz” and then died by hanging.
There was a Facebook community page established in her memory. In the group, there was a young lady who wrote the following:
“Hey, Eden, I miss you. Every time I think of you I can’t help but bawl my eyes out still even after all this time. I’m crying right now as I speak knowing what happened to you and knowing that I’ve gone through that myself and that I wasn’t the only one that felt suicidal the night you died….that’s what always gets me…. is that the night you died I’d also felt suicidal and I’d almost done the same thing but the sucky part is that I survived it and you died and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I miss you and how much I wish you were here. Sometimes I even wake up in the morning and think I’m going back to school and I’ll get to see you in the halls again and I’ll get to go and talk to you and I’ll get to see you smile and then I remember that you’ve been dead for three months now and it’s just so hard knowing that you’re dead. I’m so sorry Eden. What burns the most is knowing that I could have helped you and I didn’t and you died. I think about it all the time… Life has gotten so hard knowing you died. R.I.P Eden the world is a much darker place without you here.”
Her name was Autumn… and what she wrote broke my heart.
It broke my heart because I was her. I had tried to end my life so many times at that point… and to be honest, I wasn’t far from ending my life the night I sat on that couch and read those words. I wasn’t far at all.
As a matter of fact, it was the fact that I wanted to end my life that pushed me into saving others. It was the only hope I had. Maybe if I could save them, I would save myself.
I went on with the call I had with Ana (Dominique Chandler’s mentor) and it was a huge success. It lit a fire in me and before you know it, I was knee-deep into the suicide prevention world. Reading all of the articles. Learning the statistics. Doing it all.
And then came November.
In November of 2012, I was about to go to bed and for some reason, I just could not rest! All I could think about was that young girl and that message.
The more I tried to shake it off, the more restless I became. And so I did exactly what I felt led to do.
I sent an unsolicited message to a teenager. I was 28 years old. She was 14.
Sounds terrible, right? I sent an unsolicited message to a teenage girl on the opposite side of the country. A girl I did not know.
“Hi, I know you don’t know me… I saw a post that you posted on a young girl’s page that committed suicide a little while ago. I read about how you said that you were suicidal on that night also. Although I don’t know you and I don’t know your situation or story…”
I went on to say some personal things to her about her life and how I was hoping and praying that she knew how much she was loved. I won’t share the whole message because that was a private message to her (the other message I shared is on a public forum that is still up at the time of this writing).
BUT CAN WE JUST TAKE A MOMENT TO COLLECTIVELY CRINGE AT THE TERMINOLOGY I USED?
I was only two months deep into my suicide prevention journey back then. I didn’t know!
Okay, back to the couch.
I sent this young lady a message, not knowing how she would react. Would she even respond? Would she be freaked out? Would I go to jail? My nerves were a bowl full of hot mess spaghetti, but I rested in the fact that I did what I was led to do.
I went to sleep. A few hours later, I got a message.
She said something I’ll never forget: “The message you sent me… it gave me hope”.
I would later learn that Autumn had logged into Facebook to say goodbye to everyone and she saw my message.
My life changed forever that day. I would not be the suicide prevention champion (with 2,000+ saved lives under my belt) that I am today had it not been for that unsolicited message.
Autumn grew up to be one of my biggest supporters! She has worked hard in the suicide prevention space, she has my book (I Speak Life: A 30-Day Journey from Suicidal Ideation to Victorious Living), she is just… absolutely amazing! She has overcome so much in her life and I will absolutely ALWAYS be proud of her!
Nine years later, here I am. Doing what I love, saving lives, and helping people like you keep your tween/teen safe out here in this crazy world.
It’s amazing how purpose always finds you. ♥