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In doing research for my novel, Breaking Limbo, I joined an online support group for the suicidal to study their thought process. In reading many of their dark, desperate pleas, I was emotionally stunned to speechlessness. A young girl cries out that her own mother hates her, so why would anyone in this world like her? A man cries he no longer wants to live because he is unable to deal with the grief following the death of his only brother. Another girl claims she is tired of living and dealing with her uncontrollable eating disorder. The reasons on the surface may have varied, but the underlying reason for all was the same; they simply wanted to end their relentless pain.

In realizing the power that words held, I made sure to choose mine carefully when responding. For, choosing the wrong ones could break their already delicate psyche. Words did not come quickly to me, as the words I was ingesting took a long time to properly digest. Initially, I would have gone in like a ray of sunshine, in an effort to beam light into their dark world, until I realized light was a foreign object in their current state of mind. They needed something that was easy for them to grip onto, not something that felt out of reach. My heart ached, and I wanted to help everyone on that site, but with no words coming to me, I did not know how. So, I continued my research on the suicidal… and in the end, it was the research that helped me find the right words.

What they needed to hear were the words from someone who understood them. In doing the research, I discovered their thought process and somehow “understood” them. Yet, I had a “healthy” mind and was not a victim of the parasitic suicidal thought trance. I gently went into the comment box and, with the right choice of words, held the hand of the sufferer and walked with him/her in the dark. What I discovered, as they decided to hold my hand, too, was what most wanted was somebody to walk with them. Some looked for guidance towards the light, whilst others chose to remain in the dark, but each and every one was grateful for the power that they found in the words that validated them. And for a few, that’s all they really wanted.

— Kelly O’Callan