Teen Suicide–A Mom’s Terror

Posted on April 23, 2021 by

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By a Guest Blogger

Yesterday, I left my 12 year old son at home to go for a walk. Just a quick 20 minutes around the block. When I came back home the house felt eerily quiet. I called my son’s name. No answer. I went back to the mud room. His shoes were there. He must be home. I called his name again. No answer. I started looking through the house afraid of what I would find.

When I think back to before motherhood, I never envisioned worrying about a child of mine dying by suicide. That’s not what one aspires to. But living with a child that struggles with Anxiety and Depression has changed me. I think of lyrics from the popular musical Wicked, “Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better, but because I knew you I have been changed for good.”

Rarely does a day go by when mental health issues don’t cross my mind. I am a 20 year survivor of depression and anxiety and I make a choice every day to fight this disease and live. My biggest fear is that the child I have passed these diseases onto won’t be strong enough to make these same choices.
Trust me. It won’t be for lack of trying. We have been in and out of therapy with him for the past decade.

Yes, you remember correctly. He is now 12. We reached out for help at the age of 2. This has been a tough decade. Now don’t get me wrong. We have had amazing times. There have been moments where my husband and I look at each other and without saying a word we feel the same pride, relief, astonishment. How can this child of ours who has suffered so much be where he is today and be doing what he is doing? Getting on a bus to go to overnight camp, pitching in an All Star Game, playing flag football with friends. These moments carry us through.

We know that he would not be where he is today without the incredible amount of support and work that so many have put in. Not just us, but teachers, coaches, therapists and mostly the work he has done himself. But it hasn’t been easy and the path hasn’t been smooth. There have been days, many days, where we felt like giving up. Where we didn’t know if we could put one more foot in front of the other. When he sat in the corner of the preschool room alone, when he was bullied in 2nd grade, when he raged so badly we had to restrain him, when he ran away, when our 8 year old told us we would all be better off if he was in heaven, when the therapist told us we should consider hospitalization.
We have lived through a lot in the past decade.

Anxiety and depression are beasts. They don’t take a break just because you’re on a family vacation, it’s a special birthday or because Mom and Dad just need a night out. These diseases are relentless. Taking action helps parents feel less desperate.

On January 6th I was invited to work with two suicide prevention groups. Paws for Patrick was founded last August by the Roemer family whose son Patrick died by suicide last May. He was a few weeks away from graduating high school.

I joined Paws for Patrick to help young adults struggling with mental health find emotional support animals. I help clients through the process of getting an ESA Letter from a therapist, finding a rescue animal, and securing training. When clients find their furry friend and call me to share the news, the relief in their voices brings me peace.

My second organization is called CATCH, Community Action Together For Children. I am creating Mental Health Coping Kits to be distributed to the Glenbrook North senior class prior to graduation. Each kit will have an aromatherapy roll-on, an acupressure ring, a mini stress putty tin, a few decals, a wallet card with important numbers, and a coping strategy poster.
You recall I was asked to work with both these groups on January 6th. On January 7th a senior at our local high school died by suicide. His death has left a tremendous hole in our community and our family.

Through these dark days, my work with CATCH and Paws has given me something to focus on.
Yesterday had a happy ending. I found my son. He was alive, and safe, on his ipad engrossed in a show and ignoring my many calls. For now I breathe a sigh of relief. I know this won’t be the last time I face this fear. Living with a depressed child means that the threat of suicide is a recurrent nightmare. I wouldn’t wish this existence on anyone, and yet I wouldn’t trade my life for anyone else’s either. This journey has made me who I am today and has connected me with incredible people and opportunities. I know that I have been changed for the better, I have been changed for good.