This morning I woke up to the news of a friend passing away, presumably by suicide. This is the second friend this year to take their own life. I didn’t know either very intimately; the first was a transgender girl who I met through mutual friends, and the second was a girl I met when she participated in my BARE project. Both were amazing women and I’m heartbroken and confused at the pain they must have been feeling.

To be clear-I’m not confused by pain, I know this life is filled with so much pain, some of it excruciating. So I can understand the fact that people are suffering. I can even understand the fact that some choose to end their suffering by taking their own lives. I’ve often said that if I am ever diagnosed with a terminal illness and that, when it’s clear nothing can help me, I would probably kill myself. So I understand the concept of suicide. But what always strikes me is how well people hide their pain. I knew both of my friends struggled with their own issues, but I never thought either of them was suffering so much that death seemed like their best option.

My heart always breaks for the loved ones left behind when someone dies by suicide, but I never blame the person who killed themselves. How could I? I have no idea what was in their heads and their hearts, I have no idea what kind of hurt they must have been carrying. I also firmly believe that the one thing each of us should have the right to control is how we die. Now I’m not advocating suicide, not at all. But I am advocating freedom of personal choice and control over our very own bodies. Like I said, if I am ever terminally ill I would want the option to end my suffering when I wanted to, I don’t think I should have to prolong it because a doctor or a law or an insurance company told me to.

All that being said, I do think (or hope) that suicide for people suffering mental pain is preventable. Especially for young people; I live near the Pine Ridge reservation where teen suicide is one of the leading causes of deaths-it was termed an epidemic years ago. Nothing in this life is permanent, not even the life itself. Everything that we experience-heartbreak, pain, joy, happiness-it is all temporary. I wish there was some way to make people in pain see that their suffering is only temporary.

Another thing that always seems to break my heart when someone dies is how their friends write posts on their social media accounts. The internet has morphed us into a strange species of humans, I think. I always wonder if those people were so free with their words of love when the person was alive. I watched a documentary last year about a town that experienced a period of high teen suicides, and one of the mother’s of a girl who had killed herself finally posted on her daughter’s Facebook page:

The documentary is called ‘There is no 3G in Heaven’ and it’s worth a watch: