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  • I'll always regret not asking more questions that morning. Not saying ‘Yes but are you really alright, Jamiu?’ instead of just taking his word for it. I knew him so very well, I could usually tell when he was bullshitting me about how great life was. I was only a few months out of a suicidal depression myself though and I still didn’t have energy for much outside keeping my own life going.

    Three days later, when friends had all become worried by his lack of contact, I was still fairly sure he was fine and stayed in denial until I got the call to say the police had broken into his room and found his hanged body. When I pieced the timeline together he’d done it on the Thursday afternoon, not four hours after he left me. I reeled then.

    I thought for a long time the guilt would never go away. I pushed away all our mutual friends, avoided seeing them. I was isolated without my friends close but it just hurt too much to be reminded. Each time one of them didn’t understand why he’d done it, I felt a crushing sensation as I blamed myself for their loss as well as my own.

    Phoning those friends. Hearing the cries and shock, the gasps and the disbelief. I empathised, but a big part of me understood Jamiu’s choice. I’d been there myself a few months earlier, had a plan, gone out to complete it. I hadn’t even given a second thought to him, but he’d come and said goodbye to me. Though I didn’t know it was goodbye at the time, I was grateful. Those calls made me feel differently about my choice the year before, to realise what the reaction would have been from those same friends if I hadn’t been persuaded to postpone my decision that day. I frequently wondered, would that experience of being on the other side of suicide, having to mourn the loss of me have stopped him from the choice he made? And if so, did my not killing myself mean that he did? I tortured myself with thoughts.

    It took psychology in the end to allow me to put down the guilt. It’s weird how that works, everything the psychologist said to me I rationally knew already but him saying it to me and talking me through it somehow freed me of the irrational burden I’d placed on my myself. Part of the guilt was me coming back from my own decision to kill myself, but it was easier to make it all about Jamiu.

    If you pause long enough feelings always change.

    Jamiu didn’t pause.

    I no longer blame myself and I’ve never blamed him for his decision. August is coming though and it would have been his birthday. His loss stings the most then.
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