Late yesterday afternoon, and it is no secret any longer, my sweet little baby sister made her fifth attempt at suicide. Thank God, she failed. She is now stable and being transferred from the emergency department to a behavioral health inpatient facility, and however flawed our country’s mental health system may be, they will make sure she does not harm herself as long as she is there. In the meantime, family and friends will be visiting her and I am doing everything in power to make sure both she and my mother are doing okay.
I spoke to her on the phone for quite a while today. I asked her why she did it, when she had been doing so well lately. She responded apologetically that she just doesn’t know. She knows that she has an amazing life and so much to live for and all the freedom to choose how to do so, and after hearing us and her countless therapists preach to her, she knows exactly what to do and what not to do. Yet still, the chemical imbalance in her brain forces her to fight to remain alive every moment of every day, and yesterday during a moment of weakness, she gave up fighting.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
This is one of her all-time favorite quotes, so I told her now is the time to start living by it. Three things are for certain: she is here, she has a past, and she will continue to always have challenges in life. These things are true for every single person in the world and they cannot be changed; we do not get to decide when to enter and leave this world, we cannot change the past, and we cannot have an existence free of all problems. The first step is to accept this, because it is not going to change.
But then there’s the good part, and that is that everything else can be changed. We may not be able to control others, but we can control ourselves. My sister is an intelligent, kind, able-bodied soul who lives in an age and time and country where it is possible for her to do virtually anything. If she is worried about finances, she can get a job and make payments. If she is worried about her career, she can keep trying until she is working in her career. If she is unhealthy, she can get treatment and work to get better. If she can do it, so can you. You are loved. You matter.
We are blessed enough to control what we like and don’t like, what we want and don’t want, where and how we choose to live and think and feel and do, and this is more fortunate than so many people around the world. So I will try my best to not worry and instead, trust in the universe. By God’s good grace, and some loving words and positive vibes from you all, I have faith that she will be okay. If you or someone you know is in a crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1 (800)- 273- TALK (8255) or visit To Write Love On Her Arms to find out how you can help #stopsuicide.