There is news that can shatter a day. When it is heard, the blue skies fade to black and the singing birds fall eerily silent, and we pull our loved ones close for private sorrows. Moments ago my daughter texted me from school to tell me that last night her friend had killed himself. As a mom, as a human, as a former teen crisis counselor, my heart sank to the floor.
My daughter is the type of child few people truly understand. She is a stunning beauty who doesn't know it, she's painfully shy, and she is a constant cheerleader for the underdog. Just last week she was urging a teacher to reevaluate a 7 year old child in the school's elementary teaching program who made an outcry of abuse while my daughter was sitting with her. Though we live a very good life, one would never know by looking at the company my daughter keeps. Our house has always been full of her friends- a strange collection of what most people would call misfits, social outcasts, or "problem" kids. Our home always has been open, non-judgmental, and a safe haven. She is a mechanic of souls and has a knack for knowing who is worth the fight and who can't get out of their own way. Because of this, self-worth, support systems and suicidal warning signs have been a frequent topic of late night conversations. I am proud to say she has saved a few kids who would've fallen through the cracks otherwise. Along the way she has learned more about life than most know in a lifetime.
Perhaps it was my fault that my daughter champions the least likely to succeed group. From a very young age she had accompanied me to the runaway shelter. Teen residents often entertained her in my office as I completed my paperwork. I taught her to look beyond the surface and to always reach back when someone is reaching out for help; to know that a child can always love more than the love they are shown. When one takes on these challenges, heartache and tragedy often are part of the journey. In my career, I had seen the hard streets take very young lives by it's hand and their own. In my daughter's high school career, she also has seen the same bitter ends to fellow students. She has had to say more goodbyes than one young soul should. Oddly enough, last night we were talking about one particular loss that has affected her- a friend who shot himself after a break up with his girlfriend. In that moment, if he could have just seen past the pain, he could have lived to love again. His brother could've stayed in school, not turned to drugs to deal with the pain, and had his mentor still by his side.
Today my daughter lost another friend. Parents have lost a child. A sister has lost her brother. A community loses a citizen with a promising future. There were no blaring warning signs but something was rumbling under the surface. And like an earthquake, sudden, jolting, devastating and indiscriminate, suicide has forever altered the lives around this young soul. Take a moment with your children today. Talk about the warning signs of depression and suicide. Don't fear the stereotypes about counseling and medications. It's a lot better to hold on to a life instead of pride.
LOVE & SORROW