by Kelli Warner
KMTR-TV Morning News anchor
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.
*For more on Youth Suicide Prevention in Oregon visit Oregon.gov