I woke still thinking of a fictional television character, of whom, up until lately, I was not too attached. The #UglyTruth episode of hit drama Being Mary Jane dealt with the suicide of the title character Mary Jane Paul’s oldest friend Lisa. Over the last year, and especially in the last couple of episodes, the relationship with the two had been strained, to say the least. It was filled with drama, betrayal, insensitivity, hurtful words, envy, dysfunction, toleration, avoidance and blame. Their friendship culminated with an epic revelation, and gut-wrenching dismantling of a sisterhood which had spanned decades. Mary Jane’s friend Dr. Lisa was smart, accomplished, a philanthropist and beautiful, flaws and all. Yet, Lisa committed suicide in the opening scene after years of depression and bi-polar disorder, lack of fulfillment, unrequited love and following a time in her young life of sexual abuse, all leaving her feeling alone and unloved. Even though their relationship was strained, again to say the least, Mary Jane was left with the task of planning her friend’s funeral, and was asked to offer words by her estranged parents. She did. Boy, oh boy. She did.
Not to reveal too much more for those who have yet to watch this moving piece of cinematic call to action, I will just say that my emotions were all over the place following the episode’s end. It hurt for Lisa, and those like her in life who feel death is the solution. It also hurt for Mary Jane, and those like her in life who are left to deal with death, especially when there are questions of “what could I have done differently” attached.
Mental illness is real, and it affects persons of every walk of life. The end of the episode offered help for those who feel suicide, for whatever reason is the option. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) offers help for those in need. What struck me most, however, from this episode was Mary Jane’s cutting and raw eulogy which challenged others to do more for those who are in need, by simply letting them know they are loved.
I don’t know of many personally who have taken their own lives with the exception of the young boy who lived around the corner when I was growing up who hung himself one day in the 80s and a former co-worker from the 90s. After watching that episode I started speed-walking through my mental rolodex to scan my list of friends, family, acquaintances and colleagues who might be like Lisa and I’ve simply been too busy to see or too consumed with my own concerns to care as much as I should. #IAmMaryJane Wow. That stung even typing it. I pray to Jesus that no one in my circle of life is or has ever pondered suicide, but I must, we all must, do more to be there. Think about it. We all likely have the friend whose name is mentioned and words like “he’s crazy”, or “she gets on my nerves”, or “he needs to get it together”, or “she just needs to get over it” come to mind. I hope I’m not the only one who has avoided the phone calls of someone because I simply didn’t want to hear the complaining, blaming, or negative talk because of what I had going on or what I didn’t want to be involved in, if nothing more than to offer a listening ear. We’ve all possibly had that person, who, when we met them or shortly thereafter, we realized something wasn’t quite right, especially regarding their friendship and relationship matters, or past hurts, and we tolerated them until those same things we tolerated turned on us.
So what do we do? Again, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is here for anyone who sees death as the way out. If this is you, know that you are loved and there is always HOPE and a reason for living. But for those of us who are in their lives, we have to, as Mary Jane said, let them know we love them, we really, really love them. We must do this not through judgment, not hampered by our personal frustrations with their situations, not making light of the trials of their life, not to make us feel noble or good, but simply because they are human beings as we all are, deserving of love, support, empathy, sympathy, counsel, listening ears, open hearts and assurance that their existence matters especially when they are in the fight of their lives, for their life.
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