February could be so much worse

Kate Bigam

I am not on good terms with the month of February.

I’m not the only one, I know. Plenty of people take issue with Valentine’s Day, slushy weather and midterms. But my beef with February is for an entirely different reason.

Tomorrow marks the two-year anniversary of my ex-boyfriend’s death.

On Feb. 10, 2005, Dave committed suicide by hanging himself. I will never forget the moment I heard the news or the weeks that followed. My friends and I were living, breathing definitions of the word “wreck.”

But here’s the truth about why it hurt me so much – before my first love made the decision to end his life, I had been thinking of ending mine. I had planned where I would do it and who would find me, what I would say in my note and what music would play at my funeral. I would not, I figured, be missed very much, except by my mother.

I’ve heard that people who kill themselves usually feel they won’t be leaving behind anyone who will care about their absence, but at Dave’s funeral, I was absolutely floored by the number of people who showed up to pay their respects – our high school Spanish teacher, my mother, his little brother’s friends, the freshman girl who had a crush on him when he was a senior. They turned out in droves, more affected by Dave’s death than he ever could have imagined.

And two years later, their pain has not gone away.

When I meet them in bars, they pour their hearts and drinks out to me, recounting their favorite memories of Dave and the many ways his death has shaped their views on life. His gravesite is always overflowing with flowers, ticket stubs and other trinkets, and nearly 10 of us have gotten tattoos to mark his memory. I’d expected these people’s grief to disappear a few weeks after Dave’s death, but two years later, many of them are just as affected as I am.

They say suicide is contagious, that one death can spur another, and I’ve certainly seen friends teeter on the edge of sanity while they agonize over Dave’s decision. But where will the chain end? For me, it stops here. My ex-boyfriend’s suicide saved my life.

Yes, as much as it pains me to admit, some good has come of his death. For one, I’m still here, because if not for my own grief, I might be dead. How’s that for irony? And as a direct result of his suicide, I transferred to Kent State, where I’ve grown closer to his friends and family as well as my own.

More importantly, today I appreciate life more than I ever did two years ago. Today, I have experienced firsthand the suffering that suicide survivors are left with. I’ve seen how one person’s untimely death creates waves of guilt and pain, affecting people who the victim never imagined would care.

Studies show that suicide rates are highest in cold winter months, and here in Northeast Ohio, we’ve been having a pretty brutal winter. If suicide has been on your mind, I beg you to reconsider. Your death will affect more people than you could ever have dreamt.

And as cheesy as it sounds, there really is so much to live for – no matter how much February sucks.

Kate Bigam is a senior magazine journalism major and assistant news editor of the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].