A friend of mine committed suicide the other day. I will call him Jack so as not to hurt his family should they read this...
Jack was a lot of things to a lot of people. Jack was a gay man with a kind and compassionate nature. He was a friend to a few, he was a good listener, and he helped many people with physical ailments as he was a therapeutic practitioner. He tried to express his love through his artistic ventures. Jack was a man like us all, searching for happiness to gain a sense of fulfilment in life. He was also a man with a history of chronic clinical depression.
Unfortunately, Jack ran into and started running with a group that promised him happiness through drugs, afterhours, and circuit parties. Jack's 'friends' won't talk about how he died, as they may perceive that they have had a hand in his death. The ones that will talk brush aside all blame, asserting Jack's death was suicide from a long history of depression, with no hint that drugs had anything to do with his self-destruction. That includes his drug dealer, who was crying his eyes out at the funeral.
One person I talked to seemed to realise that drugs may have had a part to do with Jack's self-slaughter. He expressed to me that Jack was the type of person (referring to Jack's depression) that should have never been doing drugs, remarking that it was Jack's responsibility to have "known himself" and where drugs could lead for a person "like him". His attitude floored me, not so much because of the denial of any responsibility, but because it reminded myself of me not too long ago. Three and a half years ago, when I first moved to Tampa, I was reaching back to my youth. Some call it a mid-life crisis. Well, it did not start out a crisis, but it certainly became one...
I fell into a group of apparently successful people; people that are understood to be role models in the Tampa Gay Community. They were part of the party circuit. Taking drugs at parties and local dance clubs almost seemed reasonable. I mean, my God, they were having such a good time, and if they can do it and keep their lives together, why can't I? It started with a few ecstasy pills. They were great. Then I tried GHB. Then GHB and sex. I had the hard-on of a 21 year old. Wow, the fountain of youth! Then one night at a party, I tried crystal. Suddenly I was smarter, sexier, funnier, had more energy then I had ever had in my life... I felt like a God.
Rather than go into all the details of the sordid life of a crystal addict, I just want to say I lost my job, my self-respect, and almost my life. I became one of those people that believed that it was OK to do drugs and let the cards fall where they will. To be completely irresponsible to friends and lead others into a life of addiction through my example. I believed in the phrase "know thyself". That way I didn't have to be responsible for people that overdosed on GHB. Or end up in prison for selling drugs. They should know better. Right?
My view is different now. Having come through a life and death battle with addiction to crystal meth; knowing and talking to Jack about his addiction and his depression; having run with some of the same 'friends' as Jack; watching some of these 'friends' end up in prison, mental institutions or dead... I no longer believe that an irresponsible phrase such as "know thyself" is acceptable.
This is my eulogy for Jack, and all my other friends that have died or ended up in prison because of drugs and my own irresponsibility. Maybe, writing this will save a live. Maybe, Jack's suicide will help me to continue to save my own life. Today, it seems to me that the possibility of saving someone's life is worth the effort of taking a few hours to write a few words and possibly hurting a few people's feelings. I hope I feel this way tomorrow.
Jack, for what it is worth, this is written to your memory, and for my continue life.