I know I sound like a nihilist when I discuss the lack of meaning in folk’s lives — or at least my life. But I’m not suicidal. And I don’t ever see myself being that way.
Suicide has always struck me hard. I had a deeply personal experience with the suicide of a family member who I loved dearly. Before then, I had courted the idea thoroughly. The time I was the closest was when I fell on hard times and I told myself if things hadn’t picked up by X date, I’d do it.
By hard times, I mean I was on a homeless adventure and sleeping in my car and on friends’ couches.
But things picked up. And I’m still here — still questioning. I guess I have plateaued. I’m no longer scratching and clawing my way to “something better”. At that time it was a job that paid enough for a place to live. At the time I wasn’t able to get government assistance; I have no children. I worked every day for three months at two jobs and finally I pulled myself up. And that was that.
But I still felt like a burden. My reoccurring thought was that “everyone would be better off if I weren’t around.”
Then it happened.
My cousin took her life — someone who I loved dearly and respected so much for her strength during very poor health. She was 21 when it happened.
When she was 11, she was diagnosed with Lupus. In that 10 year span, she went through three rounds of chemo and two knee replacements. The Lupus ate the cartilage from her joints. She was on the books for a hip replacement, but she died before that. See, one of the horrible side effects of Lupus is excruciating pain. So, they medicated her. Pain pills galore. And anyone with that much access to narcotic pain medication would most certainly become addicted. It’s a frightful balance, between being a junkie and feeling okay when you have some horrible debilitating disease eating your insides. Being from a religious family, any type of substance abuse is frowned upon, even though with my family that’s the pot and kettle. But it was most obvious with her. Her parents and sisters shamed her for being on pain medicine… for not wanting to hurt.
I went and picked up my now deceased cousin for her sister’s baby shower. Before she went, she popped some pain pills and subsequently fell asleep. Her other sister, the not pregnant one, took pictures of her while asleep at this baby shower and posted them on social media talking about how she was addicted and a junkie.
It was shameful.
That girl just didn’t want to hurt.
One evening, she had a fight with her mom about the damned pills. Her mom left for a little bit, and during that time she hung herself in the closet using a pink, leopard print belt.
And that was that.
The ripples, though, from her death.
All my experiences with death have been expected. Elderly relatives, and such.
But this hurt.
I found out that a guy I had very briefly dated (no hard feelings) had killed himself. Even though I hadn’t spoken with him in years, it still hit me kind of hard.
And now this:
Usually stories about strangers don’t phase me, but this hit home.
This beautiful, 18 year old girl took her life due to bullies.
My heart hurts for her family. They saw it. They saw her shoot herself.
Over goddamned bullies.
Brandy Vela’s final text to her family was: “I love you so much just remember that please and I’m so sorry for everything.”
To those who bullied her: before, you weren’t ashamed. You didn’t feel bad. No remorse. It was all fun and games.
But now this girl is dead. Even though she took her own life, it doesn’t lessen your accountability and responsibility in this situation.
And… for the rest of your lives, you will remember this and it will haunt you.