Please Stay: a personal reflection

Posted on Sep 15, 2018 by

This blog post is reprinted with the permission of the author, Jenn Leahy, who sings with newVoices. We thank her for sharing her honest expression of the struggles she has personally faced. 

If any of my choir friends are reading this, the title has meaning for them. “Please Stay” by Jake Runestad is a song that the choir I am in is performing this fall (I’ll leave a link to a video below). Our content for this concert, as I mentioned in my last post, deals with the pain, desperation, and healing of suicide. As you might guess, this hits me on two levels. The first is as someone who has lost loved ones to suicide. My student, Audrey, died a year and a half ago on a Saturday. The day before that, I had been talking to her about how she wanted to move to The Netherlands after she graduated. I still wonder how we could have stopped it. My friend, Matt, who was my first “real” boyfriend, died 4 years ago. We lost touch, but that doesn’t seem to matter when you lose someone.

The second level is that I have been the person these songs are talking about. It was about 6 months ago that I left a choir rehearsal to sit in my car and cry. When my friends came out after rehearsal, I told them I had been trying to think of ways to kill myself. That night it came on fast and strong. I had been fine until I wasn’t. Luckily, I have a husband and son that love me fiercely, and friends that I adore that catch me when I fall. Not everybody feels like they have that, even if they do, and that brings me to the point of today’s post.

Please stay. There were a lot of tears in the choir room on Sunday when we sang this. I know we all have our reasons. At the very least, everyone knows someone who knows someone that has been affected by suicide. At the worst, they were reading words they wish they had heard. That was me.

I remember my mom coming home when I was 16 and I was sitting on the floor in the hallway with a knife in my hand. I had already made some superficial cuts, but when my mom called the doctor, I couldn’t promise that I wouldn’t take it further. All I wanted to hear from someone was, “please stay”. When I was in grad school staring at the bottle of pills on the counter, all I wanted to hear was “please stay”. Now, I am not saying I didn’t have a good support system, and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy.  I had an excellent support system. I have an even better support system now. But people don’t know what to say to you when you tell them you want to die. Some people play it off like it’s a joke, some ignore it, and in others you can see the pain of wanting to say the perfect thing, but they just can’t think of it.

There is no perfect thing, and you can’t save everyone, but if you know someone is hurting, those two words will go a long way. Even if they haven’t expressed thoughts of suicide, tell them you want them to stay. If it’s someone you love fiercely and you just can’t help them, tell them you want them to stay. If you are reading this and you feel depressed, desperate, hopeless, or even suicidal, don’t give up – Please Stay.

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