Suicide and what do I teach my kids about it??

I am a victim of a family suicide.  I do not talk about this much on my website, I apologize to anyone who doesn’t care to hear about it here.  But, oddly enough, people are very curious.  And let’s be honest, it is becoming as common as cancer and probably 1 out of 5 people know or know of someone who decided to ‘take their own life’.

I was 24 years old, a newly single mom with two young kids under the age of 3.  And I just recently moved back in with my recently divorced Dad.  It was a tight fit in that 3 bedroom house, but we made it work.  My dad had struggled with depression for years.  But in my eyes, he was my hero, he was strong, I asked him what to do.  How do you bring up a concern you have for them, with someone like that?!  I had my own struggles trying to figure out what to do as a single mom!  I luckily found a job working 2nd shift, so I could be with my kiddos during the day, and my dad could help put them to bed at night.  I thought this system was going well, and I thought, it would keep his mind busy as I noticed how much worse he was getting.  In July of 2008, he tried to overdose, and I got a call from a frantic co-worker trying to call me with no success so she called the police.  The police knocking on my door woke me up.  Long story short, he had overdosed, but not enough.  He was taken to the hospital.  Stayed one week, then sent home with a bunch of different pills and a once a week appointment to a physiatrist.

At the end of August 2008, I thought things were starting to look up for him.  He was finally getting comfortable in his new job, his spirits seemed bright, and he was dating.  Then my world turned upside down overnight.  Literally, I came home from working at my night shift, talked to him at 2 in the morning.  Asked him how his day was, how he was doing, what time he had to work in the morning, the usual conversation.  Told him good night and I went to bed.  I woke up to my phone beeping saying I had a voicemail.  It was from my aunt.  She got an email from him, and she was a little concerned.  I got up, walked down the stairs, and I saw his bedroom door closed.  I didn’t have to open that door to know what I was going to find.  I instantly broke down in uncontrollable tears as I carried my legs back upstairs to grab the phone and dial 911.  I’m not sure if they could really even understand what I was saying.   But within minutes, an officer was at the front door.  And that was it, he was gone.

I found it odd in the beginning, that I wasn’t angry with him nor God.  This was NO ONE’s fault.   This was simply a disease, very much like cancer, that took over that great smiled man and took him away from this world.  He was such a proud grandpa, friend, and worker.  I know for a fact that if he was well, he would have never done this to us intentionally.   And because my kids were little, people respected when they had questions for me, not to talk about it in front of them.  And for years, I have told them that Papa got sick and passed away.  There hasn’t been any other deeper questions yet.

Just last week, my 7 and 9 year old came home from school telling me about a boy in my daughter’s class, who’s dad had committed suicide.  They went on to tell me that they heard that he was drunk and he took and gun and put it in his mouth and shot himself.  My heart dropped because I couldn’t help but feel the anxiety of not being prepared for the questions coming about suicide and the reasoning behind it.  But, nothing.  They grew up thinking their Papa was only sick.  They have no idea that he took his own life.   Even though I am in the clear for right now, I will not be forever.  Something will come out about it and they will hear more about this going on in school or in the news.  It’s just inevitable.

So, how do you teach kids about something like this?  In a growing society where children are already taking their own lives, is becoming all too common??!!  How do I keep my kids from falling into a depression from bullying, or everyday struggles of a growing up kid?  My answer for now, is not to preach to them.  Not to yell at them.  I’m not going to tell them how much they would be missed.  I’m going to teach them HOW to cope with struggles.  I’m going to cry in front of my kids and tell them I am sad and that it’s ok to feel this way.  I am going to tell them (someday) that people pass away, but to keep faith that we will someday see them again and they are in a greater place.  But life on earth is just as wonderful and to live each day to it’s fullest.  Not worry about what others think of them but to always be kind, even to the meanest of people.  Because the world really is a beautiful place and there are truly amazing people out there.  And I myself have found them!  Some of them still keep in touch with me, 6 years after my dad has passed away, and ask me how I am doing.   My husband and I talk kindly about our friends in front of the kids, because they ARE listening to us.  They are only going to learn from our examples.  I will tell them that there are bad people out there, and they will lie and cheat and be mean.  But there is great amazing, will-do-anything-for-you friends are out there and so worth finding.

We all have loss in our lives, we all have failures, more than half of us have been bullied.  Whether it was by a parent or a kid at school.  We all have a sad story to tell.  But that’s what makes us who we are today.  That’s what makes us a little stronger and a little wiser.  It helps us learn how to cope with the next struggle we have.  Coping is something they don’t teach in schools.  It is my job as a parent to teach them what to do, feel, act, and how to process when something doesn’t go as planned.  (I need to remember this while doing house projects).  This is the only thing I have come up with for now.  If anyone else has any other suggestions for kids, PLEASE share!  Teaching the next generation that this does not have to be the answer, but to speak out if you or someone you know really is struggling with depression.  We have enough diseases, car accidents, cancers, etc that take enough great lives, let’s not let this one take anymore young lives if we can help it.

Here is my dad with his 1st and 2nd grandbabies.

papa

We were so lucky to have the kids be able to add their hand prints to his head stone.

grave

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