In a blog from just a few days ago, I rhetorically asked, “Are there more Suicides during a Pandemic?” I knew the answer but tried to put a positive spin on the upcoming increase. Then we heard about the two cadets at Air Force Academy here in Colorado.

And last night . . . my friend and neighbor attempted suicide. He’s in the ICU now, brain dead, a suspended fate worse than death.

When he came to my book launch in December for NOT YET, I inscribed a passage to him, “May this help you through the darkest hour and offer hope.

My friend had his darkest hour last night. I don’t want to write this post. I just want him to wake up, be fine and realize he made a terrible mistake. Maybe in a year we'd joke about his attempt. Instead, he’s completed suicide and merely passed his pain onto his wife, to all of us who knew him. He was a community advocate, helping people overcome their struggles with heroin addiction. He was a man who deeply loved everyone. Everyone, that is, except himself in the end.  

I knew we’d lose people in our community through this pandemic. People that I know and care about, but I didn’t think it would be a close friend. By his own hand.  

Memory fades quickly. In a few years, perhaps no one will remember the Great Pandemic of 2020 expect as a quarantine joke in sit-coms.  All-consuming as it is now, we have the ability to selectively forget collective pain in order to heal. Maybe that’s a strength.

We remember the horrors of war, but this is a silent killer, a faceless enemy. 10 million people were killed in World War One, but 5 to 10 times as many people died from the 1918 Spanish Flu and most history book don’t even mention that pandemic, not a word. Compare that to the countless books, movies, plays and stories about WWI.

Reminds me of when Arctic explorer Stefansson left in 1913 and when he returned 5 years later, he was like, “What war?” He had missed the entire Great War! I find that quite amusing. Maybe we should turn off our TV's and be more like him. Certainly would be easier than dealing with the loss of friends. But denial is no way to cope with pain. 

Ganel-Lyn Condie wrote a wonderful article about suicides during the Covid-19 crisis and how to help those feeling overwhelmed, like emotional check-ins and calling the National Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. 

Tonight, under a full moon, we are holding a drum-circle in the park to honor our beloved friend. We need to celebrate his life and honor his deeds. Staying 6 feet away, we won’t be able to hug each other in grief. Maybe that’s what we will remember from these days, the lack of human touch. And we’ll make up for it by telling everyone how important they are to us.

For everyday, we need to remind our friends and family, "You matter!”