Dave Sanchez and Matty Crist have seen their fair share of graphic tee designs at their shop Spaceboy Clothing in downtown Wilmington.

But in between the Rest in Peace and Happy Birthday graphics was one that is both unexplainable and disturbing to this day.

“He came into the shop really positive and happy go lucky. He was just a cool kid,” Sanchez said of a young man, named James, who brought in a unique design a little before this past Christmas holiday.

“We started asking him about the design…he got so emotional and it wasn’t something we were used to. He just broke down and he ended up telling us he was planning on killing himself.”

The three sat and talked until after the shop closed in the evening, added Crist, who helps out at Spaceboy on his day off from manning a local guitar shop.

Crist recalls saying to him: “Life is like a lottery ticket. You don’t know what’s going to happen.” Crist gave him his number, a warm hug and said he’d be there if he needed it.

When he finally left, they knew they needed to step in and try to help.

A few days later Sanchez said they called the police and they were able to help the young man get into a treatment facility for a little bit.

Sadly it wasn’t enough. On Feb. 17, his mother contacted the shop owners to let them know James still took his life, albeit a couple weeks later than planned.

“It’s so surreal,” Crist says. “I’m still shaken up over it…You’re supposed to be burying your parents. You’re not supposed to be burying your children.”

The two deal with death all the time, Sanchez said, referencing the RIP shirts, but this was so visceral.

“In a way I’ve kind of grown numb to the subject. That situation was a little more different. We knew the whole thing was premeditated,” he said.

Crist said that James had been picked on throughout high school and never really felt like he belonged anywhere.

“Maybe if he would have just allowed us to befriend him. Maybe he might have opened up a little more….he was just so unspeakably sad,” he said.

Crist remembers going through a depressive period, himself, and how helpless he felt. James’ mother was touched that Crist and Sanchez had at least tried to help her son, and cared deeply about it.

Suicide is not something to take lightly, Crist added.

“I’m just happy considering I got out of it. These people have themselves convinced they are beyond help,” he said.

Jen Rini can be reached at (302) 324-2386 or jrini@delawareonline.com. Follow @JenRini on Twitter.

WARNING SIGNS

Talking about wanting to die or to kill oneself

Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live

Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain

Talking about being a burden to others

Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs

Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly

Sleeping too little or too much

Withdrawn or feeling isolated

Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge

Having extreme mood swings

Preoccupation with death

Suddenly happier, calmer

Loss of interest in things one cares about

Visiting or calling people to say goodbye

Giving things away, such as prized possessions

Source: Suicide Awareness Voices of Education