An Open Letter on Suicide by Joon Park

Throughout National Suicide Prevention Week, Brothers will share personal stories of how suicide has affected their lives in an effort to show the impact that suicide can have. The hope is that by creating awareness and shedding light on a hard truth, Brothers may be able to intervene and save a life.

Brothers who want to share their story can send an open letter and a headshot of themselves to editor@sinfonia.org.

Joon Park, a 2014 initiate of the Iota Chapter at Northwestern University shares the story of the loss of a Chapter Brother and the impact it has made on his life.

Joon Park
Iota – 2014

Photo Credits: Jose Martinez

Remembering Brother Agrawal: An Open Letter on Suicide

It is incredibly difficult to describe the overwhelming mix of emotions, reactions, and impacts that suicide has on a community. “Everyone processes grief differently,” the counselors said. “Take the time that you need,” they suggested.

But isn’t that always the issue, whether it be with life, or death? The most common thing I heard from my chapter Brothers after Ananya took his life this past May was “I wish I had spent more time with him,” or “I wish I had taken the time to talk to him about his stress.” More time. More time with him on this earth. More time to have maybe even prevented it. More time. Always more time.

Being in college perpetuates the feeling that there’s always not enough time to do everything. No matter what your major might be, no matter how many extracurriculars you might be involved with, no matter how far you may be from your hometown, that pressure can be tough on everyone in different ways. You may think that your friend that takes three fewer classes than you may not have it as bad, but they might be struggling with a family member’s illness. You may think someone who always seems happy during chapter meetings might be loving their college life, but they might be battling alcoholism behind their dorm room doors. At times, everyone struggles with something throughout college – even if they may not show it outwardly. This I know to be true.

But I don’t claim to know how it feels to be driven to thoughts of suicide. This was a huge difficulty for me personally when I learned the news that Ananya had passed away. The times that he and I had spent together were all memories of joy, whether it be hilarious jokes thrown around the common room of our house, or us going to get Burger King at absurd hours of the night. I tried and failed to understand how the Ananya I knew could ever be driven to such dark places.

Frankly, I don’t know if I’ll ever fully process it all. But in the days and weeks following his death, it was my Brothers who helped me heal. From the very night that we gathered in the chapter room to be told the news, we were there for each other. Throughout the following month, there were always Brothers in the common room willing to talk, listen, or just take our minds off of things by going on a walk. Almost every night that week, we joined our voices to raise the song, both in his memory and in our own efforts to mend. Our tears were never shed alone. The strength of the Brotherhood shone through more strongly during those weeks than I had ever seen before. The time that each of us dedicated to one another other in those difficult days still stands as a monument to our values deep within my memories.

So if you ever, for any reason at all, feel like you need help – reach out to a Brother. We as Brothers of Phi Mu Alpha are ready to place your welfare above any of our own interests because that’s what it means to be a part of this fraternity. If it meant that I could still drive up to Evanston and grab Burger King with Ananya today, I would have given him all the time in the world. Even if you feel like you have no place to go, like you are out of options, look to your left. Look to your right. I promise you, that you will find Brothers filled with love and kindred ties, ready to lend their time and heart for you.

Fraternally,

Joon Park

In memory of Brother Ananya Agrawal
Iota Chapter – 2015
1995-2018

temporary mail
September 11th, 2018|
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