It has been just over a year since Tricia died by suicide. This time of year can be tough for many, especially the most sensitive and vulnerable among us. The days get darker; the holidays can come with joy but also painful expectations and mixed feelings. I think of Tricia often and wish her well, wherever she is. I knew her only as an acquaintance but admired her presence and courage. Her death had a profound impact. I know the world would be better if she were still in it.
Just about a year ago, an editor from Outside reached out to me, having heard about Tricia’s tragic death—she was a well-known mountain biker—as well as the high number of suicides in our mountain community. He asked if I would want to write about it. At first, I really didn’t. It’s such a fraught and painful topic. It’s so close to home. It almost felt wrong. But the more I thought about it—and the longer I sat with the devastation that was rippling through Durango—the more I thought that writing about it could possibly bring some healing.
I underestimated how difficult the story would be. Suicide is an incredibly challenging topic to cover as a journalist. There is considerable evidence that the wrong types of stories can actually spur contagion, a possibility that ate at me during my months of reporting. With my editor, the wonderful Jonah Ogles, we did our best to navigate the best-practices guidelines and produce a thoughtful, nuanced story that would honor the topic and the people and hopefully offer some meaningful solutions.
The story came out on September 4 (read it here) and I was terribly nervous. I did my very best, but I am not perfect. Did the story make sense? Would it be helpful? When you’re so close to it—and so invested—it’s hard to see clearly.
But, a huge surprise: After it was published, I was deluged with wonderful emails, texts and calls, from people I know but mostly people I don’t. Writers don’t always get to hear how their work lands. I am so grateful to those who reached out. “Your story is going to save lives,” one person told me. I don’t know if that’s true but it made me tear up nonetheless. (If you happen to be struggling right now, click here for these important resources.) May this story find those who need it most. May we all connect with each other in the deepest, most heartfelt ways during this season of darkness—and well beyond. Know that you are not alone, not ever.