When you make a huge mistake, that doesn't mean you deserve to die

When someone is considering suicide, we tell them, "It will get better." We tell them how great they are, how much potential they have, and how much the world would miss them. But, the thing we don't really talk about is — what do we tell people who made a really big mistake in their lives? When they are considering suicide, how can we help? 

We don't talk about the person who posted something stupid to social media — and now they're officially "canceled" by society. We don't talk about the person who cheated on their spouse — and now their entire family is leaving them. We never talk about the person who decided to get behind the wheel drunk — and then got in a car accident. And we never talk about the person who did something illegal at work — and the whole world finds out and they're blacklisted from their career.
We've all made mistakes in our lives. Some obviously worse than others. But, when people do things that are, well, really bad, does that mean they deserve to die? No. No matter how big the mistake, that never warrants ending your life. 

I'm talking about this because, over the weekend, Gustavo Arnal, the CFO of Bed Bath & Beyond, jumped to his death from the 18th floor balcony of his Manhattan apartment. This happened in the midst of a lawsuit against him and other large stakeholders, claiming they engaged in a "pump and dump" scheme to artificially inflate the price of the company's stock, according to CNN

So, yeah, this guy may have screwed up; the verdict is still out on that, so I'm not going to accuse him of anything. But, no matter what, he didn't deserve to die. His wife didn't deserve to lose her husband, she didn't deserve to witness his suicide, and his daughters don't deserve to not have a dad.

Arnal was going through an insurmountable amount of stress at the time of his death — not only the fraud accusations but also the recent announcement that Bed Bath & Beyond is closing 150 stores and laying off 20% of its corporate and supply-chain workforce. We will probably never know the true reason for his death, but shame, guilt, social humiliation, actual/threatened reputation damage, and feelings of hopelessness — these are all risk factors of suicidal ideations. 

So, for anyone who is considering suicide because you don't see another way out, what do you do? 

First and foremost, if you are at risk of suicide, call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. Trained crisis counselors are on-hand, 24/7, to provide support for people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress. Maybe you don't feel comfortable talking to your friends and family about your mistakes, but counselors and therapists are unbiased, and they can help you move from crisis to hope. They can help you learn how to forgive yourself. 

Clinical psychologist Dr. Samantha Rodman writes on Talkspace, "A client can come in with something that feels shameful and awful, and if they finally get over the hump of not being able to mention it out loud or in writing, their shame decreases steadily over time. Speaking about a shameful thing to a kind, objective person, whether a therapist or a friend, can almost immediately give you some distance and objectivity yourself."

There's a scene from season one of "This Is Us" that has always stuck with me —  a man getting ready to jump off the balcony of a building at a work Christmas party. He sets down his drink and a letter to his daughter and takes off his watch and wedding ring right before the character Randall comes outside. He admits to Randall that he cheated on his wife and that he lost a lot of money making huge risks in trading stocks.

"She filed (for divorce). It's broken; I broke it. And for no reason. ... My wife, my best friend is gone; my kid is gone; my career is gone. ... I lost a lot of money, mine and other people's. ... And I'm dealing with it all by myself," he said. And Randall responds, "God, man, you made a mistake. ... But there's always a chance that things will get better." 

I will always remember those words: "There's always a chance that things will get better." I want you to remember that. I want you to remember that there's always a chance things will get better. No matter what happened to you or what you may have done, you can always turn things around.

Don't believe me? There are so many examples of people who have hit rock bottom and made huge mistakes — and, still, they turned things around. 

There's Kevin Hart, who admitted to his then-pregnant wife that he cheated on her, publicly saying, "I'm hoping that she has a heart to where she can forgive me and understand that this is not going to be a reoccurring thing and allow me to recover from my f***ing massive mistake." He owned up to his failure, and his wife stayed with him, saying, "He's a better man now because of it."

There's Martha Stewart, who served a five-month prison sentence for lying about her sale of ImClone stock. She has since rebuilt her career — debuting her "Martha Stewart Kitchen" food line, judging the reality show "Chopped," and becoming business partners and best friends with Snopp Dogg. 

And, of course, there's actor Robert Downey Jr., who cycled in-and-out of jail for possession of heroin and cocaine and for repeatedly missing court-ordered drug tests. He has since become one of the most successful leading actors in the United States and celebrates more than 15 years of sobriety. 

These are just a few examples out of countless others where people didn't let their mistakes define them. And you — no matter what you've done in your past — can do the same. I just wish we would've had the chance to see Arnal's comeback. I wish he could've grown old with his wife, and I wish he could have met his future grandchildren. But, now, we'll never know.

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