Final Reflections: Processing grief and living happy

Yellow flags were placed around Fairfield Way to represent the students in the United States that pass away each year from suicide. (Tyler Benton/The Daily Campus)

Suicide prevention week has been enormous for the student community to come together. I felt that when covering the "Project Semicolon" event at the Women's Center on Monday. The events that have taken place over the course of the last five days truly belong to a much larger dialogue. This week has probably been hard for some, as it may have brought to the forefront memories of those who we can no longer hear, touch or be around because they’ve been lost to suicide– I am one of them.

On the 10th day of my freshman year I received a phone call from my mother telling me that my older brother had committed suicide. He was 32, and still very much my big brother. It happened at my parent’s house, in the very place we grew up alongside myself and my older sister. I summarily missed a month of classes and when I returned I was different. I knew I was, but I did not want to be. So much of what was happening around me between classwork, friendships, relationships– every aspect of human interaction seemed to become meaningless.

If one had asked me as a freshman what I thought my senior year would be like, it probably would not have had anything to do with suicide prevention week.  I can say now, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that it has been the largest influence upon how I carry myself as a human being, how I speak to people and the choices I make. That is what this week has shown me in my time here.

Many have shared with me a lot stories, but I would not have ever heard them if I had not made the choice to listen– and that is what the rest of us need to do, even if it hurts empathically or if we consider ourselves completely unqualified- we’re not. There is no degree in listening, talking or emotional support. Since having been a freshman I have had the reward of listening to people talk and share with me that they could not have imagined that their loved one would have committed suicide. I have heard people tell me about how they have been bullied into thinking about suicide and I have seen in their eyes the very real pain they have experienced.

I share this because we, as human beings, need to share our stories somehow. It helps, it is important and it matters. For me it is this article I have the opportunity to write. One day I hope it will be play I write, or a theatrical production I have the privilege to work on. Right now though I hope people will be inspired by this week rather than mournful or helpless.

With suicide prevention week coming to an end I am left thinking about a quote from Victor Hugo’s novel “Ninety Three,” a simple eight words that I hold with me, “What makes night within us may leave stars.”

Leave some stars everyone and all one has to do is listen, see and feel as a human does.

Matthew Gilbert is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at He tweets @wickedlouddude