The bus stopped at the end of our street. My husband was sitting in the driveway while our son played with chalk. My husband and young neighbor shared a slight, but friendly wave as he made his way home, just three houses up. Six hours later, no less than eight police cars were parked on our road. As we sought to understand what was happening in our normally-quiet neighborhood, all we were told was we were not in any danger.
The next morning we found out that the sweet young man, who just hours before gave my husband a friendly wave, shot and killed himself in his home. So many questions ran through my mind: Did he know what he was going to do when he got off the bus? Was there anything that anyone saw that would have signaled what he was struggling with that day? Could have this been prevented?
In everyday parenting, no one likes to talk about suicide. It’s a deep and heavy subject that evokes intense emotions. But, it’s more prevalent than we want to admit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14
- Among students in grades 9-12 in the U.S. during 2013, 17.0% of students seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months
- 13.6% of students made a plan about how they would attempt suicide in the previous 12 months 8.0% of students attempted suicide one or more times in the previous 12 months
As parents there are things you should know about suicide. Suicide is preventable, has certain risk factors and there are signs and symptoms that a person is considering ending their life. As children become preteens and teens, their friends become their primary source of socialization and problem-solving. Your child’s friends will more than likely know of your child’s struggle before you do. And that is a scary thought.
September is suicide prevention month. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline provides information on risk factors and signs that someone may be thinking about taking their life. The Hotline also has a toll-free number (1-800-273-8255) staffed by people willing to help as well as an online chat function.
While it’s more fun and heartwarming to talk about the humorous and light-hearted aspects of parenting, suicide has a devastating and permanent affect on families and friends. The more we educate ourselves on the causes, signs and after affects of suicide, the more we can support each other to prevent it.