Yellow ribbon symbol suicide and bone cancer. Vector illustration.The suicide of Robin Williams made many people uncomfortable.

We seldom talk about suicide. Especially with those we should. We don’t know what to say.

Robin’s death brought back painful memories of a dear friend who sought the same release from pain.

Silent Walls

Sandy had built silent walls around her in the last few years of her life. She lived in San Francisco while I was living in southern California.

I called regularly but my calls always went to voicemail. Sandy had confessed she was usually there but she would not pick up. She told me she simply couldn’t.

This was in the ancient days of answering machines. So I knew she listened to my message.

I always told her I loved her but I wish just once I put words to my fears.

  • I wish I acknowledged that I knew she was listening
  • I wish I had begged her to talk to me
  • Just one time. Would it have helped?

I remembered a past conversation when Sandy told me that one of the things she loved about me was that I did not judge.

I sighed, “Sandy, who am I to judge?”

Yet I failed to scale those silent walls. I often felt Sandy thought she was letting me down. Why? If I don’t judge, why would she feel that way?

Why didn’t I ask her?


I found out about my friend in one of the worst possible ways. I had been to Maui. I sent Sandy a postcard from the island. Because there is no return address on a post card, I had no idea Sandy was already gone.

I used my speed dial to call her when I got home. The message sent chills up my spine.

The number you are calling has been disconnected
and there is no new number.

Frantically, I redialed manually. The same inflection-free response.

My hands shaking, I looked for the phone number of Sandy’s brother. His girlfriend answered and asked who was calling. Upon hearing my name, she gasped.

“We have been trying to find you.”

Scott got on the line and told me Sandy was dead. My knees buckled as I cried, No, no, no.

He told me Sandy had cancer. Something she greatly feared.

Private Thoughts

I called an acquaintance I knew who spoke to Sandy. I admit it often hurt to know Sandy would pick up for her calls.

Then that person did something I will never forget. She paid the small fee to get a copy of Sandy’s death certificate. She was bound and determined to prove Sandy committed suicide and did not die of cancer.

I was livid. She got her proof and was foolish enough to share it with me.

Perhaps we do not want to know the answer of why. But why do we take such delight in the details?

  • Did we really need to know how Robin committed suicide?
  • Was it necessary to know his injuries?
  • Did I need to know how Sandy died?

Depression takes us deep into private thoughts with fears about someone finding out. Suicide lets the secret out.

Is that what we really want?

I miss you, Sandy. I will love you always.




BigStock Photo Credit



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