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The Swim Community and Death by Suicide

Updated: May 30, 2023

I want to acknowledge that today is one of the most significant days in the Christian calendar: Good Friday. It's a day when Christians around the world remember the suffering and sacrifice of Jesus, who experienced a grueling death by crucifixion. In some ways, Jesus' death was a shock to those close to him and it rattled his community. Good Friday is typically a somber and reflective day, so it seemed the most comfortable day to discuss a difficult topic that is often overlooked in sports communities: suicide.

Suicide can be a difficult topic to talk about, but it's important to acknowledge the reality that it can happen to anyone, including those within a tight-knit community like a swim team. It's especially devastating when it involves a young athlete, coach, or parent who was beloved and seemingly thriving.

Suicide can leave those left behind feeling confused, helpless, and overwhelmed with emotions, but it's important to remember that healing is possible. During my middle school years, I encountered the tragic loss of a friend who died by suicide. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident, as I also experienced the same heartbreak a few more times before completing college. Recently, within our swim community, a few individuals have taken their own lives, causing an overwhelming sense of unease and distress among young athletes, coaches and parents.

Maybe I'm writing about it today because I believe the story of Jesus and his resurrection can offer hope and comfort to anyone, regardless of their religious beliefs. In the face of tragedy and loss, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by grief and despair, but Jesus' story reminds us that even in the darkest moments, there can be light and hope.

When it comes to grief, it's important to remember that it's a tricky emotion that doesn't follow a linear path. The waves of grief can hit us at any moment, and we can feel overwhelmed by them. But even in our lowest valleys, there is always hope for a new beginning, just as Jesus' resurrection brought hope to his followers.

While Good Friday reminds us of death, it can also serve as a reminder that hope can arise out of tragedy. The grief we experience after the loss of a loved one, whether through suicide or any other means, is a normal part of the human experience, and it's important to reach out for support and comfort when we need it.

In times of loss and grief, it can be difficult to see a way forward. However, it's important to remain open to the possibility of a resurrection experience. Perhaps there is something inside of you that can be reborn or renewed, even in the midst of pain and sorrow. It's not about denying your grief or pretending that everything is okay, but rather about finding hope and strength to move forward.

Telling death that it can't contain you is a powerful statement that acknowledges the pain of loss while also affirming your resilience and determination to keep living. Remember that grief doesn't have to have the last word. By staying open to new possibilities and allowing yourself to grieve in your own way and time, you can begin to heal and move forward.

If you or your swim community has experienced the loss of someone due to suicide, please know that I am deeply sorry for your pain and grief.

Remember that it's okay to reach out for support and that you don't have to go through this alone. Seek help from a trusted friend or family member, a mental health professional, or a support group. You may also find comfort in connecting with others who have gone through similar experiences, such as through online forums or community organizations.

If you are ever in a crisis dial 988.

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