This article is from Issue 61: Jan/Feb 2013

Suicidal Tendencies

What we aren't talking about is killing us.

Buddy was loud, obnoxious and goofy around people he knew—like Nate, his next-door neighbor and best friend who remembers how much fun Buddy was to be around when he wasn’t depressed.

“No one could say anything bad about Buddy; everyone liked him,” Nate says.

During their junior year of high school, after Buddy became increasingly depressed and addicted to drugs, his parents enlisted him in a wilderness therapy program, where he wrote Nate a letter.

“It was an apology note, saying what he regrets, what he wants to do,” Nate says. “He wrote that he was very addicted to drugs because he needed something to make him happy and relieve the pain. He said he needed some kind of outlet, and he turned to drugs.”

When Buddy finally came home again, Nate says he was different. But he was still just trying his best to be happy.

“That’s pretty much all he wanted to do—just become happy,” Nate says. “I didn’t think he was suicidal; I thought he just needed some time to get better, to get out of his funk.”

A month into Nate’s sophomore year of college, he got a call from his brother—Buddy had hung himself from his back porch. Nate’s dad found him and cut him down, but it was too late. Buddy was 19 years old. He hadn’t left a note.

Nate doesn’t blame himself or anyone else. But like many people who have lost a loved one to suicide, he still wonders if things could have been different for his friend.

“There were a few times when he called me or sent me a text, asking me to hang out, and I was just too busy,” Nate says. “But I really do think that with enough education and enough support, it could have been prevented.”

A Growing Problem

Buddy’s story is tragic, and perhaps what makes it even more tragic is that it’s a shockingly common story among this generation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention list suicide as the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 25 and 34. It’s also the second leading cause of death among college students. Every year, nearly a million people attempt suicide, and every 17 minutes, one of them succeeds.