My Life

Goodbye, Jonghyun – Breaking The Silence

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Finding words to describe my feelings right now is very difficult, but I’m going to do my best.

Kim Jonghyun died at the beginning of this week, on December 18th. At just 27 years old, he committed suicide and is no longer with us.

I still haven’t wrapped my mind around that. My heart is broken for what he must have gone through to get to that point. My heart aches for his family and loved ones, for Minho and Kibum and Onew and Taemin .

If you don’t know who Jonghyun was, he was a member of the Korean pop group SHINee. I never met him, and I’m not one of those fans that have been around since they first debuted in 2008, but he made a big impact on my life in the short time that I’ve been his fan. He was kind and tender-hearted, strong and incredibly talented. His smile warmed my heart, watching him perform brought a smile to my face. I was watching some of his performances on YouTube before I went to bed on the 17th. His song “White T-Shirt” was running through my head the next morning as I found out that he was gone.

Jonghyun suffered from depression. He left a letter before ending his life that gives a glimpse into his pain. I began to cry as I first read it, not for the first time since hearing the news. His death has affected me deeper than I ever could have imagined, and I know I must speak out about why it has affected me in this way.

I, too, struggle with depression. I have struggled with it for years, but it has been particularly strong in these past few months. I have felt emptier than ever before in my life. There have been days when I’ve felt like I cannot bear the pain of being alive. I have never considered suicide, but there have been moments when I’ve wondered how it is possible to keep on living without being crushed by the weight of the pain that I’ve held within me.

As I read Jonghyun’s final words, I was struck by how many of those same things I have thought and felt in my darkest moments. How awful that so many of us would feel the exact same things, yet still feel like we are alone in our pain. How awful that we must continue to lose lives in order to get people to wake up to what is truly going on in the hearts of our people.

So many of us are not okay. So many of us are suffering in silence, for fear of speaking out. I have been terrified of speaking out, but I cannot keep silent any longer. Jonghyun is gone and we cannot change that, but we can work to make sure this does not keep happening. Mental health is a serious problem and we must not brush it off.

Friends, I want you to know that you are not alone. I want you to know how precious you are, simply because you are you. You have worth, darling. You have so much worth. I know how terribly hard living can be sometimes. I know how hard it can be to keep breathing when you feel as if you are drowning in hopelessness, in silence, in emptiness.

But it will get better. Your lungs will be filled once again and your heart will leap with joy and you will realize how beautiful this life truly is. Just please hang on so you can see that beauty.

Thankfully, I have had wonderful people that have prayed for me and supported me in these months of darkness. I have felt the presence of God rush in and hold me as I cry. And though I have gone through months of feeling empty and hopeless, I feel a flicker of hope blooming inside. I can feel my heart rising from the ashes.  My story is not over yet. In fact, it’s just getting started.

Dear reader, if you need someone to talk to, here is a list of mental health hotlines. There is no shame in asking for help.

And to Jonghyun, thank you for shining your light so brightly while you were here. You will not be forgotten.수고했어요.

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