*Trigger warning: this post discusses suicide.
I must admit that when the movie “A Star Is Born” first came out in 2018 and everyone was seeing it, I didn’t jump on the viewing bandwagon. It wasn’t until 2020 that I finally watched the movie one night from the comfort of my own home.
SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen the movie, I’m about to reveal the climactic ending…
We see Bradley Cooper’s character Jackson take his own life in the garage of the home that he shares with his wife Ally, (Lady Gaga). We don’t exactly see the act take place, but we see him setting up for it, and we see the closed garage doors with the couple’s dog sadly laying outside.
Let me try to convey to you my reaction. I BAWLED MY DANG EYES OUT. I have never cried so much in a movie as I did in this film. I laid in my bed, tears literally soaking my pillow, as my husband lay beside me, not knowing what to say in regards to my very emotional reaction to this movie’s devastating ending. He had no idea why it affected me so, why this movie had just hit the depths of my soul with a gut-wrenching sucker punch. I was not expecting this ending at all. But I also can’t say that I would have expected my heart to react in the way that it did to the suicide of a fictional character.
National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, which I honestly didn’t know until only about a month ago. Thousands of people die each year as they tragically take their own lives. Some suffer alone and in silence from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder, just to name a few of the mental illnesses that impact the human population. Many of the people who are in anguish as a result of their mental illness don’t even tell anyone they are hurting. For whatever reason, they keep their mental illness and emotional struggles bottled up inside, never talking about it to anyone, even the ones who are in the closest relationships with them.
A personal connection
And so, why did I react with such raw and dramatic emotion to the ending of the movie? When I was almost 13 years old, my mother’s first cousin took her own life. I was young; I didn’t understand mental illness and suicide and the impact that it has on a family, until I, unfortunately, experienced it first-hand in my own family. And while we knew that my mother’s cousin had suffered from depression over the years, I guess none of us knew how incredibly awful it had gotten, and how unbearable this illness was on her soul.
Over the years I have come to realize what a dramatic impact mental illness has had on my own family in particular. I myself suffer from major depressive disorder along with crippling anxiety. I have been at my absolute worst, in the deepest, most dark of places, and I have wanted to end my own life. The mental illness you are suffering from eats away at your soul. It drastically impacts your will to live because you just feel so incredibly hopeless and saddened that you see no way for you to ever overcome it, and no way to ever feel better. You think irrationally, very negatively, and you just reach a point where you can’t bear to live in this miserable state anymore.
Just a couple of months ago, one of my best friends texted me as she was at the airport leaving to go be with her own family because they had tragically lost one of their own to suicide.
My heart broke into a million tiny pieces for her.
Here I was again, experiencing first-hand how terribly suicide can impact the individuals who are left behind. This was my best friend, losing her only sibling to suicide. I didn’t know what to say to her. I just broke out into tears and started bawling, just like I did in the movie because once again, the pain and tragedy of this calamitous event was hitting me deep in my soul. All I wanted to do was wrap her in my arms and hold her, and cry with her. Unfortunately, nothing I could say would be comforting at this time. Nothing I could do would cure the pain she was feeling in her heart. All I could do was tell her I loved her and that I would forever and always be there for her.
And so I have witnessed the overwhelming and devastating effects of suicide on friends and family. I have seen the tears, the ensuing depression of other family members, the asking God “Why did this happen to her?” “Why did this happen to us?!” And I myself have come to a realization that I don’t ever want to put my own family through this immense pain and desolateness that I know they will never return from.
But also fortunately for me, I have an incredible support system and I know I have this support system. I am surrounded by some of the most fabulous friends and family that one could ever have. Each and every one of these people is there to pull me through my darkest times, and luckily for me, I know that each of them is indeed there whenever I may need them.
As we head into Suicide Awareness Month and beyond, it is so important for us all to recognize those around us who may be suffering, and to shower them with love and support. This world is especially tough right now, but with the love and support of one another, we can make it through. We can each do our part to help lower the devastating rates of suicide by letting each other know that we do not have to suffer alone.
If you or someone you know is suffering, please reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The phone number is 1-800-273-8255. If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, please call 911.