How to Save a Life

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Alex was a talented writer, creative artist and had a dark and sarcastic sense of humor that always made me smile. He was born to horrible, abusive parents. His father tried to kill him and his brothers more than once. His mother never accepted his sexuality, or that he was trans (F to M). He was able to escape the toxic environment, but not the trauma and mental health issues that came with it.

We had known each other for ten years, and dated for a few of them. Partially due to that, we always had a very close relationship. It was a rough breakup, and for a while we didnt speak.

In 2012, he was the first person I called to tell I was raped. I knew he would comfort me and stay with me and not doubt me while so many others did. So many others blamed me and doubted it even happened but not Alex. Since that day, we spoke every day, all day, through text or online. We collaborated on projects, made each other art and playlists and were the best of friends.

In 2017, Alex’s mental health took a turn for the worst. The woman he lived with was his verbally abusive ex wife, with mental illness issues of her own. There were many occasions where she would drive wrecklessly and put them in danger, threaten to kill herself and sometimes even their beloved pet. I always begged Alex to let me call the police but he pleaded with me not to, as it would only make things worse.

One such horrible night, his ex wife was behaving in such a way, and Alex said he felt like abuse was all that he deserved since he had it his entire life. While I explained that wasn’t true, citing the example of my sexual assault and how I asked if I deserved that, and he said no, I told him this was no different. I said I was going to call the police to his apartment as it seemed serious and my gut and everything in it was telling me to. Yet again, he begged me not to, as it would only make his situation worse… but now I wish I had.

I received a call not long after that Alex had attempted suicide and was on life support. His family had been contacted but had told the hospital that “they didn’t care what happened” and Alex had named me in his letter as a beneficiary and therefore, I became the decision-maker. It was up to me whether to keep him on life support or to let him go.

I couldn’t believe this decision had fallen to me. I never in a million years thought I would be the one to make a decision like this. When you hear about things on the news or on television, you always think you know what you would do. I’m here to tell you that it all changes when it is real and you in that situation.

I spoke with the compassionate doctors and nurses about chances of recovery, quality of life and everything of the sort. I visited as often as I could. I held his hand, played his favorite music, favorite shows, even sang for him. One day he even seemed to grab my finger back a little which seemed to be a glimmer of hope.

I considered it for a couple of weeks, until finally I made the most difficult decision of my adult life, which was to let him go.

Alex passed away on November 12th, 2017.
I would like to say that I don’t blame myself, but I still carry some of the guilt and I know it will take time and a lot of work to deal with this grief.

I want to share my story because if you feel something in your gut, even if you think your friend might hate you for a while, or maybe longer than that. They will be alive. Get them the help they need. I miss my best friend every single day. Everything reminds me of Alex and I wouldnt be who I am today without him. Dont make my same mistakes.

Trust your gut. Save a life.

Story submitted by Channing