Yep, I know: It’s a dicey subject that most folks don’t want to discuss.
I get it: We’d all rather go on our merry way and not have to think about depression, drugs, conflict, teen suicide.
But most of us have been touched by a young person taking his/her own life.
My brother killed himself.
My high school boyfriend’s son hanged himself.
The brother of a woman I met last week end lost his battle with drugs.
My response to my brother’s death was to write a book. I was (am) a writer, after all. Expressing my feelings on paper (now on a computer) was the only way I knew to work through the guilt, emotional pain, anger, and the unanswered questions. Oh, those unanswerable questions. The truth is I’ll never get over the grief of losing a brother, my closest sibling. But I can quit blaming myself for what I did or didn’t do. And I can acknowledge that there are many things I’ll never know about why my brother stuck a hunting rifle in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Suicide among youth between the ages of ten and twenty-four remains the third leading cause of death. And significantly more young people attempt suicide than those who die. Often, a combination of factors such as drug and/or alcohol abuse, depression, parenting problems, an inability to resolve conflicts, lack of friends, the death of a close friend or relative contribute to teen suicide. Often, parents and friends confess that they had no idea their son/daughter/friend was suicidal. There were, they say, no warning signs.
Maybe we have to look more closely. Maybe we have to hone our conflict resolution skills. Maybe we all need to be vigilant and pay attention to warming signs that can be as seemingly insignificant as a change in someone’s eating habits, a slip in grades, a sudden lack of interest in friends or activities that used to be so important. Family relationships are also key. The way families solve problems impacts how we all learn to fight fair, settle disagreements, and move on.
Let’s listen and pay attention.