While we were vacationing in Hawaii last week, we received heartbreaking news about our sweet neighbor. She lost her son to suicide. While we were vacationing and playing on the beach, a friend was unexpectedly losing her son. It broke my heart for her and for her son that he had hit the point of extreme darkness and felt like he had no way out.
That night, after attending his funeral, Steve and I went to the Imagine Dragons LoveLoud concert. Dan Reynolds, the lead singer, is on a mission to shed a light on the extremely high suicide rates in Utah and also among the LGBT youth community. Needless to say, suicide was a huge topic throughout the night and I left the concert deep in thought.
And the deep thoughtfulness continues still. I went home and began researching suicide rates in Utah. The numbers among the 10-17 year old range was heartbreaking. As a parent of a son and a daughter just starting out their young adolescent journey, my alarm bells were ringing. How do we prevent such heartbreak? Maybe it is a matter of being more open and accepting and honest about mental illness.
So here I go, being honest and open. I began looking back on my own teenage years….bear with me, I told you I am deep in thought so frankly, my mind is all over the place. Anyway, I started reflecting on my own young life. I remember having dark days, feeling consumed by shame for my “mistakes”, feeling not good enough or pretty enough or cool enough, feeling heartbreak in my relationships….depression was real for me. It was so real that I wanted to sleep my days away. It was a heavy and lonely journey. But I remember the day I went to my parents and bravely asked for help. I was met by loving and open arms that got me the help I needed. I got on medication and was able to talk through my emotions with a doctor. I was pulled out of the darkness and brought “back to life”.
Fast forward almost 20 years from that time and I lost my sweet baby boy. Those familiar feelings of darkness crashed into my mind like a freight train. Those feelings of not wanting to wake up were there and they were keeping me trapped in my bed. Luckily I recognized those lonely feelings immediately and before it got bad, I was able to ask for help again. So, 20 years later, under extremely different circumstances, I am once again taking those same medications. And I feel much more in control of my emotions. I still feel sadness and painful heartbreak, but I now feel like I can feel and then pull myself back to the light.
Upon reflecting, I feel so incredibly grateful that I had the courage to ask for help when I was a teenager. If telling my truth helps someone else, I will scream it to the world. I think the world can use a little more honesty, a little more kindness, a little more acceptance and a little more empathy. Every life is of value and I will try my hardest to let every person I love feel this.
We can all help prevent suicide. If you or someone you know is in need of help, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones.