What if you’d left work early that day?
What if you’d called/texted and asked him to walk the dog?
What if you’d called/texted and asked if he picked his sister up from the bus stop?
What if you’d called/texted and asked what he wanted for dinner?
What if the dog had realized what was going on and barked incessantly?
What if, four months prior, when he’d gotten so angry he shouted, “I wish I was dead!” you’d sent him to counseling, instead of told yourself, “He’s being an angsty teenager. This will pass.”
What if you’d been a better parent?
What if you’d figured out how to be a stay-at-home-mom?
What if you’d kept going after undergrad, so you had a better job and more flexibility, so you could be there for him more frequently? Or less frequently?
What if you’d waited another six months to start trying?
What if you’d only stopped at one?
What if you’d not allowed him to close his bedroom door when you were home?
What if you’d insisted on more frequent family dinners?
What if you’d pushed him harder to join clubs/sports/anything?
What if you’d asked more questions about school/life/friends/anything? What if you’d not given up when he said, “Fine?”
What if you’d let him play “mature” video games sooner? Or later?
What if you’d lived in a different city? Different state?
What if he had different friends?
What if you hadn’t yelled at him that one time four years ago? Or two days prior?
What if you’d encouraged him more often? Or less often?
What if his math grade hadn’t dropped to a B the week before? What if you hadn’t made such a big deal about it when he made all A’s? What if you didn’t make a big enough deal about it?
What if you’d insisted he practice more frequently, so he made first or second chair in jazz band?
What if you were a better athlete growing up, and maybe more likely to pass those genes onto him?
What if you and your husband expressed more affection? Or less?
What if you’d said “I love you” one more time?
What if you’d figured out how to make his sister less annoying (in his eyes)?
What if you had been aware of any possible bullying going on in his school?
What if it had occurred to you to send him to a different school?
What if there had been signs?
What if you didn’t realize there were signs?
And on and on and on and on … This is what suicide victims leave behind. This is what their parents go through every single day, from the moment it happens, for the rest of their lives. This is what their aunts and uncles, grandparents, cousins go through every day. This is what every adult who played any sort of role in that kid’s life goes through every day. This is what their friends struggle with, as they try to maneuver through this fucked up life, made a thousand times worse when they lose a comrade in arms.
Every. Single. Day.
For the rest of their lives.
If you think suicide is the answer to your problems, you’re wrong. Those demons in your head aren’t real. We are. And we care. So. Damn. Much.