This is one subject I never thought I would have personal experience with. But, if life has taught me anything, it’s to expect the unexpected.
One sunny morning, in early May of 2018, my 15 year old daughter called me from a family friend’s house. She had spent the night there after going to a church youth group the night before. I answered, thinking she was going to say she was ready to be picked up. It was in that moment that our lives changed. In a way, for the better. Her first words were, “Mom, I need help. I’m afraid of my own thoughts.”
In hopes of preventing another family from going through what we did, I’m going to share the 4 signs I missed, so you don’t.
#1) Talking about being a burden to others. She’s a teenage girl. Everyone knows teenage girls are overly dramatic. And that’s exactly what I chalked such talk up to be.
#2) Withdrawing or feeling isolated. Whenever she would hole up in her room I would ask her what she was up to. She always replied with, “I’m talking to friends, Mom.” And I believed her. I didn’t even think twice.
#3) Acting anxious, agitated, or reckless. I knew she had some friends that were less than stellar. But, I trusted her judgement. She knows right from wrong. I believed her when she told us it was her friends that drank the bottle of Absolut, at the bonfire.
#4) Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress. (A little back story on this one, because I’m not totally oblivious to how my children feel.) Her dad, when she was 13 years old, decided he didn’t want to see her anymore. We had been working on accepting that and going to counseling, so the occasional meltdowns were normal for someone going through abandonment. I thought.
According to, afsp.org/…bout-suicide/suicide-statistics , on average there are 123 suicides PER DAY. And for every one suicide, 25 attempted it. In the great state of Wisconsin, suicide is the “2nd leading cause of death for ages 15-34”. This is not okay people!!
I urge everyone, educate yourselves. Take your morning break and Google suicide. It could literally save a person’s life! Want to take it a step further? Watch this 5 minute clip.
Scary stuff, right!?! Now, go see the documentary he made and read his book. I haven’t read his book, but I did see the documentary. It’s one of those that should be shown in every high school, in America. It’s a very powerful message, from a firsthand account.
I look at life in a whole new way these days. I watch for the signs in everyone I know, not just my kids. I now know that it is not “normal” for teenagers to hole up in their rooms. They aren’t always “just talking to friends”. While yes teenage girls are drama queens, the thought that they are a burden should never enter their minds. I don’t chalk things up as drama anymore. My eyes were opened when I found out my 15 year old had been drinking and smoking pot for months, to ease her pain and anxiety. When she realized those are only quick fixes she considered swallowing a bottle of pills, “to end it all”. Let me tell you, that is something no mother EVER wants to hear. But, I’m glad I got to hear it from her and not read it in the suicide note she had already written.
Mental illness is very real, very scary and never something to be ignored, or shamed for!
If you would like to learn more follow these links: