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Teen’s suicide becomes a difficult life lesson

May 2, 2012

by Kelli Warner
KMTR-TV Morning News anchor
Springfield, OR

The first clue that anything was wrong came in a late-night facebook post.

It came from a good friend, written after midnight on a school night, which was an odd time for her to post anything at all.

The message said simply: “Hug your children today and tell them you love them.”

Instantly, I felt a wave of panic. Something bad had happened, I just felt it. I scrolled quickly through earlier posts from my friends and I had my answer. My heart sank.

A boy in my son’s class had committed suicide just hours before.

He was 14-years-old.

To say I was stunned doesn’t even begin to describe all the feelings that rushed over me.

This boy—a seemingly happy, well-liked, talented athlete—had chosen to end his life.

Even as I write about it now, my heart aches. I think about his parents and wonder: how you survive something like this? How do you get out of bed every morning from here on out knowing that you will face every day without the boy you raised and loved so much? It is unfathomable! Something no mom or dad should ever have to think about, let alone experience.

I think of this boy’s classmates; the boys and girls who clung to each other and cried uncontrollably at the news of his death, and who are still, two weeks later, hurting and trying to process this unbelievable loss.

And I think of my own son, who has never experienced this kind of grief and who struggles to understand it. How does a boy, who was laughing and joking around at school that day, go home and do something like this?

And I can’t help but think of all the parents like myself who didn’t realize they needed to have a conversation about suicide with their 8th grader. It is surreal. And it is so very, very sad.

My son and I have done a lot of talking over the last week. I feel an urgent need for him to understand that there is nothing—nothing—that will happen to him in his life that he cannot survive. I need him to know that life is so very precious and we must never, ever waste a moment of it. And I need him to feel to his very core how much he is loved.

Grief is gut-wrenching for those left behind. There’s no other way to say it. It feels as if your heart will break in two and it can never be put back together. How can it be when such a large piece is now missing? It will take time.

For these kids, who loved this boy so much, and who share so many memories of him, it will take a lot of time. They will never forget that on April 17th, they lost a dear friend. But through love and support from each other, their families and their teachers, they will get through this. Yes, a terrible, terrible thing happened. What we must focus on now is how to keep this from happening again.

Every day is a gift, and so is everyone in it.

Yes, hug your children and tell them you love them.

 

Image(s): TeenHelp.org
*For more on Youth Suicide Prevention in Oregon visit Oregon.gov
  
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Discuss this article

Suz May 2, 2012

Will do. Kelli. Will gladly do.

Olivia May 2, 2012

Some friends of ours just lost their son to suicide. It was heart wrenching to hear them talk about it. Thank you for writing this.

erika Scott May 2, 2012

Simply tragic.

AG May 2, 2012

So sad. It reminds me that the topic of depression and/or bipolar needs to be something we are not ashamed to discuss. I do not know this child but I can assume that there is a good chance he had clinical depression and/or bipolar depression. Depression is not something to be willed out of or to be ignored in anyone, especially a child or teenager. Yet, many of us are guilty of thinking that depression only happens to adults. Childhood bipolar has a higher mortality rate than most forms of childhood cancer, yet nobody talks about it.
I am so sorry for this family, the kids who knew him, and everyone involved. It is so tragic. I am sorry for the loss.

AG May 2, 2012

PS there is a severe lack of child psychiatrists in the eugene area who are qualified to treat depression and bipolar depression in children/teens. There are no inpatient psych beds in Eugene for kids either. One has to go to Portland for psychiatric help for their child. Just fyi.

Jake May 2, 2012

Beautifully written and very, very true.

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