I was deeply saddened by the recent news that a Hiram College freshman named Chavonne Chin-Albert, passed away of an apparent suicide. The campus community was notified Saturday via email, prayers were requested for her and her family. Counselors were available to talk with students and the Chapel opened Sunday morning at 9 a.m. for those who wanted to have a quiet place to reflect. 

angelI did not know her, but I do know she was a beloved daughter and sister. I feel such grief that someone so young — just starting out in the world — felt so hopeless and so alone that the only viable option she saw was to take her own life. I’m saddened not only for the woman she won’t become, but that the gift of her life was lost. I’m terribly sad for her friends and family.  Although at the moment she took her own life, she didn’t feel as though anyone cared; I’m certain someone did.

I’m reminded of my friend Mike, a young man just starting out himself. A quiet guy, he had a great sense of humor, and a contagious smile. He was well-liked, and moving up in the ranks at his job. He had a wife and two beautiful kids. He was the youngest sibling in a large, boisterous, loving family. But despite all he had, inside, there was a quiet desperation he kept hidden away.

It was a huge shock to everyone when we got the news – Mike had intentionally jumped to his death. Friends and family alike were devastated. How could this happen? Why didn’t he say anything yesterday at the office? Had he decided his plan already — before he bathed his kids and put them to bed? As he kissed his wife goodbye that morning, did he act differently, knowing it was the last kiss they would share? Why didn’t he just pick up the phone to call a brother, sister, mother, or friend – anyone – to share his pain? In the days that followed, these questions swirled in torrents around those he left behind. But the answers never came.

Perhaps it was the same for those who knew Chavonne. Her loved ones are left feeling the shock and sting of her sudden absence. They’re stuck, replaying in their minds the last time they saw her, the last time they talked, looking for clues that might have saved her. Or perhaps, in their pain, they’re feeling a bit of the darkness she must have felt, the pointlessness of dashed hope.

A source at Hiram College shared, “The College really comes together in times of tragedy, which is a reflection on its close knit community. We will feel this loss for a long time because one person does make a difference at Hiram. So many lives are touched in the day to day happenings there….faculty, staff, cleaning people, dining services, etc. Everyone cares about each other.”

So I say to her friends and family — and to each of us — be a comfort to each other. Make sure your loved ones know how much you care. Please be kind, for everyone you meet may be fighting a hard battle. Your kindness may shine a little light on their darkness, and that could make a world of difference.