I recently read a blog post about a family who wrote an obituary calling out bullies. The obituary was for a teenager who had committed suicide.
Here’s the post (which includes the obit) from a blog called For Every Mom: http://foreverymom.com/family-parenting/sadie-riggs-obituary-is-going-viral-and-we-all-need-to-read-it-to-our-kids/
I spotted it in my Facebook feed and I hovered, considered whether I wanted to delve into this world I try on a daily—minutely—basis to avoid/forget/ignore.
I scrolled past. I came back. I hovered some more. And finally, I took a deep breath and clicked the link. And afterward, I closed it, shut down my phone, and went about my day, pretending I wasn’t thinking about what I just read.
About making sure your kids are aware of, understand the consequences of bullying, of suicide. The article cried out for all parents to talk to their kids about such important, life-altering matters.
Let’s be honest: My daughter has been slapped in the face with suicide. She understands better than the vast majority of kids her age what it feels like when someone close to you chooses that path in life—rather, to end their far-too-short life in such a way. She watches her parents, her grandparents, our friends, aunts, uncles, everyone around us struggle with managing the fall out created by suicide. It’s been fifteen months, and we still deal with it, some of us still haven’t fully accepted it, and all of us wish on a daily basis our lives—his life—had not taken that sharp curve that occurred when my son decided ending his life was the most optimal answer at that moment in time.
I feel reasonably certain this will not be my daughter’s first choice—or even on the list of options—in the eventual likelihood of her life becoming seemingly too tough to handle at some point down the line.
But that’s just her. What about other kids, the ones who were my son’s friends, or any child who has ever experienced something so difficult they are seriously contemplating a choice that has consequences that can never, ever be undone?
For the record, we have no idea why my son made such a monumental, earth-shattering, and incredibly wrong decision that day a little over a year ago. We have no proof bullying was involved. During the week after it happened, other parents from his school went online, screamed bullying, called the local media, and attempted to pull together a rally or picket line at the school to protest … what, I’m not sure.
Can schools do more to be on the look out for bullying? Yes. Can parents? Yes. Can everyone? Yes.
We can also conserve more water, eat better, spend more time at home and less at work … the list goes on. No one is perfect, and everyone can do something better.
Do I believe my son was bullied to death? No.
Am I being naïve or living in denial? Possibly.
What we do believe, in retrospect, which really sucks, because damn, if only we’d acknowledged these things a year, a month, an hour earlier…what we do believe is that he suffered from mental illness. Depression, maybe. Probably. Likely. There definitely were demons in his head. Loud, obnoxious, insistent monsters who convinced him they were right over all the people around him, people who loved him, who only wanted the best for him. Who wanted him to hang out on this earth for far more than thirteen pitifully short years.
Once upon a time, he was an easy-going baby. Took to breast-feeding with ease. Slept through the night before I went back to work. Smiled a lot. Was incredibly smart, super happy. I remember someone—no idea who—warned me that if he was an easy baby, he’d be a difficult teen.
Oh, were they ever right.
I’m pretty sure it started in fourth grade, but was definitely in full swing by fifth. And controlled his life by seventh, which is when the demons finally won.
The anger. The misery. The refusal to be talked down once he’d worked himself up over something incredibly small or petty or insignificant. In November, 2015, four months before he’d make true on his words, during a heated argument with his dad and me, he screamed, “I wish I could kill myself.” Furious at such a horrible proclamation, we sent him to his room, told him he couldn’t come out again until he was reasonable. We didn’t know that to the demons whispering in his head, that was reasonable.
We thought he was being an angsty teenager, and we event said we couldn’t wait for him to outgrow this phase, so he’d be fun to be around again.
But he never outgrew it, and those asshole demons won. Somehow, some way, they convinced him he’d be better off—we’d be better off—without him.
They were wrong. And now it’s too late to convince my son, to somehow figure out how to prove it to him.
But it’s not too late for you, if you’re reading this. I have no idea how to shut up those demons—whether external or internal—but I do know what this world will be like if you let them talk you into leaving it.
It will suck. So much more than it does right now.
So talk to someone. Anyone. While I don’t know how to fix it, I know there are experts who can. Talk. To. Someone. And most importantly: Keep living. You’ll be glad you did.
If you need them, here are a few options. I do not condone any over the other. I’m just giving you choices, because the demons aren’t right.