I lost my dear friend Ian Turvill two days ago. He took his own life. I was up late last night thinking about him, then again early this morning. I've known Ian for over three years, but the first time we met- we hit it off immediately. His sarcastic British wit, intelligence and kindness made him fast friends with me and everybody he met. My mind is still racing over the loss of Ian, and I can't help but wonder, why didn't I know?
According to Ian's daughter, he has suffered from depression, low self-esteem and self-doubt for years and took this step because he felt like a disappointment to himself and everyone around him. This comes as a total and complete shock to me. I know people who suffer from depression, one of my best friends and one of my brothers suffers from depression, but it is known. I don't think any less of these people for suffering with depression, it actually makes me understand and appreciate them more. Which leads me to my larger question, did Ian know that I cared about him as a friend? Did he know how much I valued him?
Ian was the Chief Marketing Officer of a major Chicago law firm, he and I gave a talk on collaboration just a few weeks ago. He and I talked almost every day for two weeks before the event, sometimes multiple times a day. He never gave me any hint he was struggling. He was one of the first marketers to take a chance on my software, and was afterwards a great mentor to me and promoter of what I was doing. I live in Buffalo, and he would often fly to Rochester (a 70 minute drive away) to see his daughter who was in school there. Every single time he would message me on Facebook and let me know he was nearby, but we were both always so busy that we never made the time to meet up. Ian was a true friend to me, but I can't help but wonder if he knew. I can't help but wonder if everybody I work with and share my life with at my business and at events knows that they are not just my professional colleagues, they are also my friends and I care about them.
Please know that I will love you no less and will respect you far more if you share with me when you are sad. I will understand you and I will relate to you better. I feel like shouting upon hearing about Ian's passing because so many people loved him and cared about him, but he was suffering alone. I'm sure his family and close friends knew he was suffering, and obviously there is a time and a place to open up about sadness, but can't we try harder to bridge that gap sooner? Can't we try harder to give each other permission to be vulnerable? Can't we make it a priority to make our business relationships about more than business?
To my dear friends still around, I don't want to lose you. Please talk to me or somebody if you are in pain. I'm not sure I could have made a difference for Ian if I had known, but I absolutely could have shared with Ian that I loved and appreciated him and that he was never a disappointment to me. My thoughts and prayers go out to Ian's family and all those who were fortunate enough to know him.
Note: I've learned since originally posting this, by people that suffer from depression, that it is too much to ask people suffering from depression to open up about it. They say it is our job as friends to see the warning signs and help as best we can. I wish I could have known and seen Ian's struggles sooner, so I could have been a better resource to him.