Conversations about suicide - Tiana's story

S1: About four years ago, when I was 15, my best friend suicided. We were really, really close. Did everything together. So I went through a lot of stuff that is normal for someone who has lost someone to suicide. And then about after a year, I've kind of had this moment where I went, "This isn't helping me and it's not helping her, so I need to do something and I need to help others". And since then I've been trying to help others with my story.

S2: I'm wondering what you notice now about what was going on for your friend that you now think, "Whew, I wish I'd known that", now, so...

S1: Yeah, there's a lot of things that I now look back and I can notice. There's quite a few warning signs she was showing. She'd stopped eating. At school she'd give us her lunch, and she'd just be like, "Oh, I'm not hungry." And we didn't think anything of it at the time. She'd often come to school every day telling me that, "Oh, I didn't sleep very well last night." And I'd be like, "Oh, well what's wrong?" And she'd be like, "Oh, I just can't sleep. You know, I'm just having trouble sleeping." And the same thing, I didn't think anything of it. Her mood would change dramatically. So one minute, she'd be this happy, bubbly person that she normally is, and the next, she'd be really dark and was not herself, in any way. And just a few things like that that we just kind of shook off.

S1: There were moments where she'd also tell me that she'd think that people would be better off without her and that she didn't think that... She thought people would be better if she wasn't here, and it's not the case; completely not the case. Everyone around her is still, to this day, four years later, falls apart.

S2: I'm wondering what kind of things you think you would've said had you known what you know now, that other people might find useful? 

S1: Yeah. I would've thought and would've liked that I would've spoken to her. You know, told her that I was concerned. That I know how much I love her and how much I'm there for her.

S2: I'm wondering if you can share with us the kinds of things you went through in terms of how you just coped naturally, and also what supports that you got? 

S1: Okay, well straight after the event happened, my school organised for my whole class to meet and we all met at the school and they had different counsellors talk to all the students and let them know what normally happens, what sort of grieving process we're gonna go through, 'cause grieving is different with a suicide to normal grief. I was a little bit different, because I was the one that found her after it had happened, so my parents put me into a counsellor the weekend of, so it was the day after it had happened, and that was really beneficial for me, because I was able to talk about it straight away. And then another... One of my friends I started talking to, I didn't know him quite well before it happened, but he was one that just stuck. He kept asking me, "How are you going today? What are you doing today?" You know, he'd ask me questions that didn't make me think of what had happened, you know? He was what made me believe that I could get out of this dark place that I was currently in.

S1: So he was definitely a big support for me, and my mom and family were a definitely a big support. And for someone, a friend who has another friend that's going through what I had, I think just to be there. Don't ask them questions. You don't even need to talk. You just need to let them know you're there for them. I think for people who are in a time in their life where they are considering suicide themselves, I think they need to know that they are loved. "The world's not going to be a better place without you as you're probably believing right now, and I think that you need to try and talk to people about it instead of trying to let it bottle up all inside and thinking again that people are gonna judge you. You know, we all fall apart at some stage in our lives, and you just need to trust. You need to trust the people around you."