J. Dana Trent

Author of the interfaith memoir, Saffron Cross

Preventing Suicide: A Story Lives On

Lindsay_Apple

This IS Lindsay—that incredible smile and appetite for fun! (Pictured with her niece, Avery) Photo credit: Mara Apple O’Neil. For more photos click here.

Dear Readers:

You may remember from when I posted last year on Lindsay Apple’s family and friends who were participating in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of Darkness Community Walk. Team Loving Lindsay is back again this year, working harder than ever to raise money for suicide prevention and honor Lindsay’s precious life.

Team Loving Lindsay is nearly half-way toward their $6,000 goal—but they need our help! Join me and Fred in supporting this important cause. If you have ever been affected by suicide, or know someone who has, you know the urgency of this effort.

Lindsay would have been 32 on September 11, 2013. I think of her so often—usually while listening to the radio at home or in the car. Famous for her penchant to break into song and dance—Lindsay was brilliant at easing teenage angst and reminding us that life was, after all, about having fun.

From Marvin Gaye to Gloria Gaynor, Blind Melon to Train—Lindsay had impeccably diverse tastes. She was creative and articulate, gregarious and energetic. Her spirit lit up a room and she was bursting with confidence. These are the attributes that make suicide so difficult for those whom she left behind. We question, we wonder, we grieve, and we never get over our loss—the sadness simply shapes and shifts as we move through.

Lindsay was a force behind the publication of my first bookShe was a gifted writer, and I longed for the way she commanded language and allowed creativity to flow forth from her fingertips in all mediums. The worse I did our English classes and the more inferior I felt, the more she’d encourage my writing. She knew I yearned for the gifts that came to her so naturally. I can’t help but imagine what Lindsay would think of Saffron Cross. I think she’d say, “I’m proud of you, BC. You finally did it.” She’d be the same encourager today that she’d always been.

Lindsay’s story carries on through us. It lives and breathes through our memories, our sharing, and our work to prevent suicide. Lives can be saved—but not without our help. Join us.

We love you, Lin. Always.

Below, you can read my blog posts from 2012 and 2011. 

Preventing Suicide: Out of Darkness Community Walk 2012

(Published September 27, 2012)

Winston-Salem, NC — This Saturday, friends, families, and neighbors will walk to honor loved ones and increase awareness, education, and prevention of suicide through the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Out of Darkness Community Walk.

Remembering Lindsay

One of my best friends from childhood, Lindsay K. Apple, took her own life on October 25th, 2010. Nearly one year after her death, I wrote the following blog post in honor her legacy. This Saturday, Lindsay’s family and friends will gather to remember her and walk to save lives through the Out of Darkness Community Walk at Tanglewood Park in Winston-Salem, NC.

How You Can Help

Read Lindsay’s story below and join me in supporting Mary Simpson and Mara Apple O’Neil from Team Loving Lindsay this Saturday. Your gift could save a life. Thank you for your generosity.

(Published on September 16th, 2011)
Lindsay, our best friend Kate, and I at our induction to the National Honor Society (circa 1997)

In Memory of Lindsay K. Apple (1981-2010)

Logically, you know people will die. But you hope they will take their own sweet time. You imagine they will live well and vibrantly into their 90s so that you, selfishly, can have all the years you want to share tender moments and precious goodbyes.

On October 25, 2010, my dear childhood friend Lindsay Apple took her own life.

Like a fast-moving book of prose, Lindsay lived 29 years of a fascinating, successful life that led everyone around her to believe the best was yet to come. She was a well-educated professional with a wonderfully supportive family. She was engaged to be married. She had held several prestigious university positions and had devoted her time to volunteerism, travel, and missions. But her story—the one with us—ends there.

Lindsay was one of the first friends I made as an awkward 6th grader new to the town of Reidsville, North Carolina. Lindsay, a generous and much-less awkward middle schooler, was a brilliant student, artist, writer, and all-around funny lady. We became fast friends and, along with a tight circle of confidants, shared the 1990s. In the journey from 6th to 12th grade, Lindsay kept us all laughing as we ditched our over-sized t-shirts and alternative rock to become more sophisticated young women (or so we thought).

We shared growth, birthday parties, sleepovers, nicknames (Loula Biscuit Knee!), teenage crises, high school jobs, and boy troubles. Lindsay’s sense of humor and gift of encouragement kept us all sane. Her favorite way to cope with teenage drama: dragging her (very proper and Southern) mother’s red leather jacket (reminiscent of “Thriller”) from the closet to prance around in it while we’d roll on the carpet laughing. Lindsay knew subjecting us to a pale skinny girl dancing in a too-big-for-her Michael Jackson get-up while shouting, “I’m Mary Florence!” would get us every time.

After high school, Lindsay attended UNC with our best friend Kate, while I went my own way to Salem College. At the time, it was difficult to comprehend how distant friendships can become when you don’t see one another each day at school. I made frequent visits to Carolina, where Lindsay and Kate introduced me to their new friends. I was jealous of their exciting university life–which stood in stark contrast to my small, isolated women’s college.

During the summers, we’d reunite for outings to Greensboro, the closest city to our rural town. In rare moments, Lindsay would share her struggles: her parents’ divorce and subsequent move out of her childhood home, boy troubles, and finding the balance of her dreams with the realities of job searching and being a grown-up. As years went by, she shared less and less, perhaps not wanting the rest of us to see how messy life had become—though our own lives were equally chaotic with the growth edges of our 20s.

Lindsay would have been 30-years-old on September 11, 2011.  I always imagined that she would have been one of those people who would have taken her own sweet time to leave this Earth. I imagined us having old-lady tea parties with fine china, still laughing over Mary Florence’s red leather jacket. I had imagined Lindsay would have lived well and vibrantly into her 90s so that I, selfishly, could have had all the years I wanted to share tender moments and precious goodbyes.

Suicide is a devastating event.

Lindsay’s sister, Mara Apple O’Neil, served as a team captain last Saturday in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)  “Out of Darkness Community Walk” in Winston-Salem. Mara, along with team “Loving Lindsay” met and exceeded their $5,000 goal. Proceeds from the walk help the AFSP conduct research and provide education and prevention initiatives “designed to reduce loss of life from suicide.”

Mara describes the struggles of suicide survivors:

“… let me tell you that amid the sadness, guilt, and regret surrounding the suicide of a loved one, there is also anger. Anger towards the person who has forcibly removed himself or herself from our lives without first consulting us. Anger that he or she has altered the rest of our lives, and the rest of our spouses’ lives, and our childrens’ lives, and our parents’ lives, and didn’t give any of us a say-so in the matter. Resentment of the loved one’s unilateral decision-making for all his or her friends and family is all part of the pain that complicates the healing for suicide survivors … Forgiveness is what we must strive for if we are to move forward and keep living.”

There’s so much I want to say to Lindsay. I want to ask her “Why?”, and I want to know what we, the friends who knew her so well so long ago, could have done. I want to tell her, too, how much I admired and loved her.

If she were here today, I know she’d encourage my dreams as we’d joke about how superior her writing is to mine. I imagine, too, we’d still be laughing about awkward school moments, boys, 1990s fashion, Ecto-Coolers,  listening to Blind Melon’s “No Rain” on repeat, and of course, Mary Florence’s jacket.

If you or someone you know has been affected by suicide, please consider donating to the AFSP. Your time and contribution may very well save a life.

Editor’s Note: I just realized that Lindsay’s last blog post (October 23rd, 2010) featured a link to a person performing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” dance with finger puppets, complete with the red leather jacket. Chills. Thanks, Lin.

The perfect chalk image for Lindsay drawn by her cousin, Mary Margaret West, at the 2011 “Out of Darkness” community walk.

5 Comments

  1. Mara, I cannot begin to understand your struggle or pain. I think that what you are doing is an awesome thing, and I know that your sister is proud of you. May God richly bless you for the efforts you are putting forth to educate about and prevent suicide.

  2. Heather: Thank you for reading and for your comment. I’ll be sure to share it with Mara and her family.

  3. Dear Dana,

    Sorry to hear abt yr loss, I too earlier this year had an awful experience when a friend of mine whom I met after a few years killed himself by jumping into a river while in a drunken state. He doesn’t know how to swim.

    He became mentally unstable when he lost his mother 3yrs ago, his father left them and went abt leading his own life totally saddened by his wife’s death. My friends older sister is married and a younger brother who leaves on his own. I still recall the night I met him 3 weeks before Christmas and he spoke abt arranging a meet up to catch up. I awaited for his call but to no avail, his colleagues whom I knew called me because he neither reported for work nor were they able to contact him.

    It was only on 2nd January this year the news reported abt a dead body floating in the river, the authorities disclosed that he had been dead for abt 2 days in the river. It came as a shock to us!!

    He left us with a big question mark as to why would he do something like that. His last Fb post on New Years was ” it’s time for me to boom” ! We din realize this was his sign off for a suicide. He would have been 30 this Oct.

    His father din even show up for his funeral, it was a close casket funeral. A sad and tragic ending, we lost a good friend never to return again.

    My deepest condolences to Lindsay and her family.

    May GOD bless and forgive her Soul.

    Agni

    • Agni:

      I’m so sorry about your friend. Indeed, these are terribly difficult situations for both the person who is struggling and his or her family left behind.

      There are no easy answers to suffering in this world. Our only consolation is God’s presence, which never leaves any of us.

      Again, my sincerest condolences to you and his family.

      Thank you for reading about Lindsay’s life. Our prayer is that her legacy will far outshine her last moments of despair. She was such an outstanding young woman.

      Best,
      Dana

    • Agni:

      I’m so sorry to read about your friend.

      Peace and strength to you and his family as you all continue to grieve this loss.

      Thanks for reading and for your kind words for Lindsay.

      Dana

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