If you have stumbled across this little journal of mine then it is painfully obvious that I write about the loss of my son, Ian James, to suicide just 7 short monthths ago. If you knew Ian, then like me, every moment after his passing you’ve asked why. If you experienced any part of being in Ian’s living presence then for sure, like me, are asking how. These questions will never be answered. The “whys” and “hows” rest with Ian.
Even though we will never have answers, it doesnt stop us from asking the most difficult of questions. What drives a 14 year old boy who was so full of love and promise to take his own life? How did family and friends, teachers and community miss the signs of his impending death? What did I miss? I am his mother for God’s sake.
What exactly are the signs of suicidal thoughts in teenagers? I have read the statistics, and they say that 1 in 4 teenagers have suicidal thoughts. Stop. 1 in 4? I don’t know about you but that feels like a really really big number. According to WebMD, some signs in your teenager could be the following;
Making suicidal statements.
Being preoccupied with death in conversation, writing, or drawing.
Giving away belongings.
Withdrawing from friends and family.
Having aggressive or hostile behavior.
WebMD goes on to express that all suicidal throughts and actions must be taken seriously. I have had several parents reach out to me in the last several months, asking if Ian dealt with depression, what signs we saw, and if I can direct them to any resources. I say this with heartfelt emotion and passion that I am not the success story, my son committed suicide and we are left to pick up the pieces. I can only stand on a roof top and yell at the top of my lungs that if you believe your child is depressed or having suicidal thoughts, you need to grab your child and run to get help. Now.
Like with Ian, what if there weren’t any signs, warning signals or flares? There is a non profit organization that I am learning more about. It’s the only one that I have found that strives to create messaging for teens today. To Write Love on Her Arms, uses a youthful platform and has established a creative to present hope and find help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. The TWLOHA Movement inspires those that struggle to speak up and talk about their feelings and urges them to hold on.
I search everyday for a thought or message to write about that will resonate you all who read this tiny little blog. But I also have to be sensitive with my words about suicide. I have a responsibility to the kids, Ian and Bella’s friends, that read this. I don’t want to sensationalize Ian’s death and focus too much on the acute trauma. But I want to be honest about the gaping hole and remaining question marks that his suicide left me sitting in the middle of.
If you are a teenager, and think you may feel like Ian did. First I need you to hold on. There is help. I know being a teenager can be rough and you may be worried about the negative stigma that is attached to depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. But I need you to know that your story is not over yet. This storm will pass and hope is real.
If you are an adult or a parent I encourage you to talk to a teen in your life about suicidal thoughts and mental health. The holidays are a good time to be able to grab a quiet corner in a noisy house with your favorite teen. You could just ask them how they are really doing. You might be suprized by what they have to say. If you need some guidance on how to start a conversation there are a few articles that can be found on The Mighty.