trigger warning: this post discusses a recent suicide at the University of Pennsylvania and contains references to suicidal thoughts. please take care.

On Sunday, Amanda Hu, a Penn student majoring in biochemistry, committed suicide. She was a year older than me. I did not know her but on Facebook we shared seven mutual friends. She did the ALS ice challenge in August and obligingly posted a video of her shrieking at the cold. In her public pictures, she poses in front of fancy Philly restaurants in chic clothes, tilts her head at a flattering angle, and smiles widely for the smartphone flash.

In February, I nearly did the same. I planned my suicide meticulously. I would donate my things to Greene Street Consignment, or a Goodwill if I could find one. The rest I would toss or recycle: the little doodles I drew for my roommate, who loved them and taped them to the wall over our sink, the random ticket stubs I hoarded from a local horror movie festival, the letters and birthday cards from friends back home. I was and still am awful at swallowing pills, and conveniently enough, FroGro had a ten story parking garage. I thought, somewhat macabrely, that jumping from a location practically straddling Penn’s campus would make quite the statement. The momentum transfer would kill me quickly. I idly wondered about writing a note and finally resolved that I had too many words for paper. I had closely scrutinized my calendar and determined I would wait until after spring break, several weeks away; I would be going to Seattle with my mother, and I felt I ought to give her good memories she could hold tightly to after I jumped.

But here I am, writing. I was lucky to have a roommate that listened to me and hallmates that dragged me to dinner or told me about this-and-that event on campus, we should check it out. I didn’t quite experience the draining deluge that I think followed Amanda; for me, it was a quieter, rolling wave, and it was easier for me to be pulled out by a stray compliment or bright smile from a friend. All deluges start as waves, still and deep and terrible. I know with bone-settling conviction that if I hadn’t been as lucky I would be dead.

Sometimes, when I let myself, late at night or very early in the morning, I think of that. If I had jumped The Daily Pennsylvanian would be saying seven student suicides have struck Penn since last August. If I had jumped I would have never performed in Penn Monologues, never eaten a worm, never felt stars kiss my skin in the bite of African winter, never made wontons with my roommates, never presented about Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” for a literary society.

Since February, my modus operandi has been to forget. I do not want to remember the ennui, the slow-grinding despair of thinking my footsteps were too soft and my body and mind too easy to forget. I do not want to remember how sometimes I would walk heel-first to minimize the sound I’d make, as if I could erase myself like that. Heels down first. I do not repeat the 3a.m. nights I spent up, wondering why I was so wrong. There was a flood of grief whose source I did not understand and long, rolling crests of sheer apathy that stole the little joys of life from my hands. I stopped watching Jeopardy with my hallmates. Stopped eating dinner. I do not want to remember, but.

I do not have to walk around with ASK ME ABOUT SUICIDAL THOUGHTS in black sharpie on a white label. I do not have to describe the wave, the dark and deep allure of it, I do not have to acknowledge that I was ever nearly lost in the wave. I do not want to remember, but. 

Amanda Hu’s death makes me realize that I do a disservice to the Penn community by staying silent. The deluge that drowned Wendy Sheung, Alice Wiley, Madison Holleran, Elvis Hatcher, Theodric Reed, and now Amanda Hu, the gentler waves that follow me still cannot be stopped with luck. 

How can I stay quiet when there are people who drown in their own grief? If I can help someone by speaking out, I will. So many Penn students have been lost to a deluge of depression. I hope we will never lose any more. Nobody should ever have to experience any deluge or any wave or any sudden crash of despair. If you feel like you need someone, if you want to talk, if you simply need someone to look in your eyes and say, I understand. I was there. I sometimes nearly go there again. Please. Please reach out to someone who will help. Please use the resources Penn providesPlease reach out to me, if you don’t feel ready to reach out to the right resources.

I will always listen.


reposting from writing blog.