Eight Stories Up: A Letter to the Reader
Eight Stories Up: An Adolescent Chooses Hope Over Suicide by DeQuincy A. Lezine, PH.D with David Brent, M.D., is both the touching memoir of how Lezine survived the desire to commit suicide and a useful guide that will ease the isolation and hopelessness caused by the thoughts of suicide. The excerpt below, the preface to Eight Stories Up, was such a touching address to the reader I thought it was important to share.
If I were in your position, I would find it hard to believe that somebody I didn’t know would really want to talk to me. Yet I really do. I wish I knew your name so that I could make this letter more personal. I wish I could be there with you right now so that you could see the sincerity in my eyes as I listened to you explain your pain to me. I can’t. I can only hope that you will read the following words and know that they are written from my heart.
I know that to feel suicidal is to feel unbearable suffering. It hurts so badly that sometimes we just want to cry. Go ahead. I grew up believing that I should never cry, but in fact tears are natural. If you have to cry alone for now, then find a place where you can let those tears go. If it helps to have a friend with you, then give that friend a call or send an e-mail or a text message.
When people are in great pain, it is sometimes hard for them to think about anything other than ending that pain. I remember accidentally getting my finger jammed in my school locker when I was 13. It took everything I had to remember my locker combination so I could get my finger out, all the while distracted by the agony radiating from my hand. I suppose I could have yanked my finger out from the locked door, but that would have made things worse—lacerating the skin or perhaps losing part of the finger altogether. The urge to get rid of suffering is so powerful that we start to consider extreme and permanent solutions for pain relief, when other options are available. It is hard to think clearly when we’re in pain—that’s why it’s not the best time (in fact, it’s the worst time) to do something rash, whether yanking a finger out of a locked door or, in the grip of horrific mental pain, considering suicide. How about another analogy? Have you ever stubbed your toe before? When I stub my toe, I end up hopping on one foot and cursing like it’s going out of style. Still, I wouldn’t be ready to amputate the toe. Yet when it hurt just to be alive, I was ready to cut off living. I was ready to die. But I was wrong to think that dying was the best way to end my pain.
When we have to make a major decision, whether it’s to undergo surgery like an amputation, to buy a car, to pick the right college, or to find a good job, most of the time we get help. We get a second opinion. Contemplating suicide is truly a matter of life or death, and your life is more important than cars or jobs or colleges. Doesn’t it make sense to get a second opinion about the decision to stop living? Please call somebody—a parent, an older brother or sister, a good friend. You can also call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), where people are waiting to listen to you and to help you. You are worth the time it takes to get a second opinion about ending your life.
Ultimately, this is a book about options. Suicide is only one of the options for ending your pain, but there are others that are less violent and less permanent. Nobody else can decide for you which options are best. Only you can decide that for yourself. But I think you owe it to yourself to try out some of those other options before you try to kill yourself. You don’t know what the future holds, but you rob yourself of the chance to find out what your life can be if you choose to end it now.
There is still time for you to find a life worth living. Please don’t give up. Now I’m going to ask you to go make those calls. It takes a lot of strength to ask for help, but I know that you can do it. I’ll be here for you when you get back, and we can take a look at some of those options I was talking about.
With every hope for your future,