Writer’s note: This column contains themes, such as suicide, that may be distressing to some readers.
It took only three words to save a life.
“I love you.”
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. As I reflect on this month’s theme, I cannot help but think about my experience overcoming suicidal ideation and how those three simple but powerful words saved my life.
My experience with suicidal ideation started when I was about 9 years old. I experienced a lot of trauma in my childhood. I suffered in silence, which led to many mental health issues.
I wanted to die. I was angry, in pain, broken and lost. I thought dying would be the best solution.
Even though I wanted to die, there was a small and gentle voice inside me that wanted to live. That part of myself kept me alive for many years. I wasn’t living, though. I was merely surviving.
By 2014, everything went downhill. I had enough. I was exhausted and felt hopeless and alone. I set up my plan and thought to myself, “This is it. I’m going to do it.”
I remember hiding in my bedroom, weeping and staring at the ceiling. After walking away from God for about a year, I decided to have one last conversation with Him.
“God, I need you to move. I need you to do something.”
Right as I said this, my sister went inside my room. Bambi was 5 at the time. She was crying and she kissed my forehead. In the midst of all the pain that I felt, her words pulled me out of the darkness.
She said, “Lorr, please change. I love you.”
I love you. I love you. I love you.
She left as gently as she went in. She was gone, and I was alone in my bedroom. But her “I love you” lingered. Those words embraced me. I felt this unexplainable rush of a force inside my body.
At that moment, I knew I had to keep on living. My sister is the person I love the most in this world. I wanted to live for her. And as I lived for her, I learned to live for myself as well.
If she had not spoken those three words, I would not be alive today. Three words saved my life. My sister’s “I love you” was the guardrail that kept me from jumping off a cliff. Her words were the arms that embraced me and reminded me how beautiful and powerful love is.
Saving a life is not an extravagant act. It can be done in the simplest and smallest actions. Embracing them. Listening to them. Reminding them how loved and beautiful they are. Sitting beside them during lunch.
As we all reflect on this month’s theme, I encourage all of you to be kind and loving toward each other. Many of us are suffering in silence. Many of us are experiencing tribulations that are difficult to bear.
And for all who are reading this, keep on living. Keep fighting. You are worthy and loved.
The 24/7 Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at (800) 273-8255.
Loren Negron is a student at Washington State University, where she is pursuing a dual degree in journalism and sociology with a minor in psychology. She recently completed an internship with SpokaneFAVS.com.