Three years ago my brother took his own life. For him it
became the only option he could imagine that would end his
depression. He left behind many grief-stricken friends, family
and relatives who still struggle to understand.
We’re far from alone in our grief.
Tonight somewhere in America a mother buries her head in her
pillow as she sobs out her grief to the heavens. No one can
console her. It’s fruitless. Her son, the one she loved and
protected like a mother grizzly protecting her cub, is gone.
Using forethought and planning, he
ended his life by his own hand, leaving behind only a note to
explain. In between the gut-wracking sobs, this mother attempts
to puzzle out the moment, the day, the month, when her beloved
decided to leave her behind.
Tonight, there’s a mother somewhere wondering what clues she
missed. There’s another who wondered if she should have done
something differently. Another knew it was hopeless from day
one. It stalked her family and her son didn’t stand a chance.
The causes of suicide are multitude; addiction, mental
illness, clinical depression, and an overwhelming absence of
hope. It’s a bigger problem than you might think. It’s sad that
in our nation, that’s so very blessed, almost 34,500 people
choose to end their lives.
That means that every 15 minutes of every single day, someone
is taking a life. It just happens to be their own. And in their
wake the suicides leave a tsunami of grief. Unfortunately there
are many age groups that are impacted by this phenomenon, but
statistically it is the second leading
cause of death for college students. Many colleges are
frightened by that last statistic and are attempting to stem the
tide of suicidal thoughts and actions on campus.
A group in California called Active Minds created an exhibit
they call “Send
Silence Packing” which includes 1,100 backpacks representing
the number of college student lives lost to suicide each year.
Each backpack has a picture and a story of the student whose
life was ended so very early.
One of the tragedies of suicide is that many never talk about
their suicidal thoughts and actions and to reach out to the
right groups for assistance. Some suicide prevention groups are
even initiating text-messaging calls for help since many in the
college aged group are more likely to text someone than to make
a phone call.
One of the benefits of an event like “Send Silence Packing”
is that students realize they’re not alone in their struggles
with these feelings. Because of societal stigmas, many never
indicate they’re having an issue and so community members,
relatives and even family members are blindsided by a suicide
So many societal stigmas have been uncovered and brought out
into the light that it’s definitely time to start talking with
your teen about this topic. If suicidal thoughts aren’t
impacting your son or daughter, they may have a friend that
According to the
American Academy of Pediatrics, after surveying high school
students they found that 60 percent said they had thought about
killing themselves. That’s 60 percent of the young people
sitting in classrooms tomorrow.
Even more shocking was that almost 9 percent indicated in
this same survey that they’d actually attempted a suicide.
This sounds like an epidemic to me. People talk with their
children about the birds and the bees and passing out condoms,
but they should also be talking about the facts of suicide
prevention. And, arming themselves with all of the information
they can get their hands on so they never have to stand, shaking
hands next to a casket.