Earlier this month, I attended a vigil at St. Albans Cathedral. The vigil was held in honour of National Suicide Prevention Day. It was a moving and emotional celebration. It was obvious that almost everyone there had been touched by suicide and knew the pain caused by it.
The Minister leading the vigil spoke powerful words about how people who die by suicide are blinded by the darkness in their lives, and how despair, loneliness and sorrow becomes too much to bear. He said how important it is that we all seek the light – faith, hope and the confidence that our life is worth living. He reminded us how important it is to reach out to those we think might be in a dark place. He also said It is equally important for us to reach out for help if we find ourselves dealing with unhappiness and thoughts of suicide.
At one point, we were asked to come to the front of the church to light a candle or candles for someone we knew. The candles on the left were to honour someone who had died by suicide, the candles on the right were to acknowledge someone we thought might be in danger of attempting suicide. As I lit my candles, a young girl who appeared to be either in her late teens or early twenties began to light candles. As I walked away, I noticed she was on her fourth candle and was not yet done.
That is the moment that struck me the most about the vigil: how is it possible that someone so young has lost so many people to suicide? What does that say about the world we are living in? I know first -hand what suicide does to the people left behind. I wonder how someone so young handles losing so many. How does she hang on to hope? Where does she find the strength to go on?
I don’t know who this young lady is and I don’t think I would recognize her if I saw her again. But she left an impression on me that I am sure I will remember for a long time. I am sure there will always be some sorrow for her as she remembers those in her life who have died by suicide. I hope she has a shoulder to cry on when the memories are too strong. I hope that she has help and support and that the pieces of her broken heart can be repaired. I hope she knows that even those of us who don’t know her, wish her the best in life, and the strength and courage to carry on.