A Survivor’s Story
The 2017 World Suicide Prevention Day theme was “Take a minute, change a life”, where they encourage people to check in with those who may be struggling and encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Although it’s taken me over 20 years, I’m finally taking my minute and telling my story.
It started out as a normal night. Shortly after I got home from work that night, I received a call from a friend (on a land line, no less), that another friend & co-worker’s son had died. Since I was close to the mom of the deceased, the request was that I come over to help comfort her and “do what I could”. I didn’t even think about it before getting into my car, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Her condo was a hub of activity. There were police everywhere, and on the couch in the living room was my friend whose son died, with my two other friends sitting on either side of her. Everybody was crying. The images of that night both are a hazy blur and crystal clear at the same time.
I remember the hug I received from the mother when she saw me – tight, desperate, angry. Her son shot himself in his room, and she kept asking me “why.” I had no idea and no answer. I remember the shockwave through my system when I saw the body bag. I didn’t know her son was still in his room when I got there.
Most of all I remember the look on my buddy’s face as the Detective spoke to him, out of earshot of the mother. My buddy motioned me to meet him in the kitchen so we could talk. The Detective had told my buddy that one of the best things we could do to help the mother was to clean up her son’s room so that she wouldn’t wake up to the horrible task of having to go in there to clean it herself.
While I was mentally processing what that meant, my friend silently opened up the closest bottle of wine, took a big gulp and handed it to me. We passed that bottle back and forth and drank it in less than a minute – hoping the deadening effects of alcohol would help get us through the next 30 minutes. Those deadening effects never came, and the images of that night haunt me to this day.
A lot has transpired in the 20+ years since that night, and I now have kids of my own. As my kids near the age of her son, the images from that room come back to me more frequently. I can’t imagine what his mother went through that night, and continues to go through to this day. No Parent should have to go through that. I still don’t know why someone that young would feel that desperate.
When I got there that night, it was too late. I didn’t know my friends’ son was struggling – and even if I did, I wasn’t equipped to have that discussion.
Awareness is the first step, and this is what I hope to address. I see a lot of my kids’ friends, and I probably see a side of them that their parents don’t see. I’m sure other parents see a side of my kids that I don’t see. How do I recognize the signs of a kid in trouble, and conversely, would they know my kid is struggling? After 20 years, I still don’t really know how or when to have “those conversations”. I don’t believe I’m unique in that regard.
In an effort to help drive awareness and do something, Relias Academy is shining the spotlight on the course “Adolescent Suicide”. For the next 4 weeks, 50% of the purchase proceeds will be donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. If you are in a profession that needs CE credits, this course will give you CE Credits from over 30 Accrediting bodies.
September 10 was World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD). November 19, 2017 is International Survivors of Suicide Day. More than 800,000 people die every year by suicide, and as many as 25 times that many make a suicide attempt (source). There is clearly a need for the information to get out there and raise awareness.
The course is designed for Mental Health Clinicians, Nurses, Therapists, and Counselors. However, Adolescent Suicide is not strictly the domain of people in those professions. As in the case of my friend, her son never got “professional help.” Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15-24. That’s why everyone can benefit from this knowledge, because you never know when someone needs a helping hand or a sympathetic ear – and you’re in a position to make a difference.
Take the course, educate yourself, raise money and help raise awareness on this issue. Take the minute – it literally could save a life.
Have a story you’d like to tell? November is Cancer Awareness month for Lung, Pancreatic, Stomach and Prostate cancers. Relias Academy is currently looking for your stories, and we’ll be spotlighting a series on “Best Practices in Oncology Nutrition”. If you have a story you’d like to share, send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we publish it, we’ll donate 50% of the revenue to a charity of your choice and send you a $50 Amazon gift card as a thank you.