The Club No One Wants to Join (Child Suicide Loss)

Karen Kosman:

This story is an excerpt from Too Soon to Say Goodbye: Healing and Hope for Suicide Victims and Survivors, used with permission by New Hope Publishers.

Nancy Palmer on child suicide loss, her adult son’s depression and suicide, and how God helps her cope:

 

Image by Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image by Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  I belong to a club no one wants to join. Its membership is too costly—the death of a child.

I closed my journal after writing these words. My mind reflected once more on that day my life changed forever.

My 30-year-old son, Jason, had been living with us for several months. We’d had an argument. I knew he suffered from depression. Finally, I had confronted him and pleaded. “Jason, no one loves you as much as I do. Please get help!”

“I don’t need help! I’m outta here!” he shouted as he stomped off to his room to pack.

Jason had become skillful at hiding his inner turmoil from friends and family, but I knew all the signs of Jason’s depression. He had struggled on and off most of his life. The intensity of his emotional state this time frightened me. No matter how much my husband, Bill, our sons Bill and Geoffrey, and I cared; we could not control Jason’s choices. He needed professional help, and he had to be the one willing to seek it.

A Christian psychologist had provided me with a list of therapists that Jason could see, but he refused. Jason was separated from his son, and his son’s mother. She didn’t know how to deal with Jason’s depression and had left him. Jason’s 3 -year-old, autistic son certainly needed his daddy. I hoped and prayed that his son would be the reason Jason might change his mind and seek help.

Wandering into Jason’s room after he left, I felt shocked to find his most cherished belongings—items he’d never left behind before. I tried to convince myself that he’d be back, that he’d announce, “Mom, I am ready to seek help.”

The insistent ringing of the doorbell finally broke through my resolve not to answer the door. A chill ran down my spine as I faced a man I did not know. Suddenly, my eyes fell on Jason’s driver’s license attached to the stranger’s clipboard. My heart sank, and I knew even before he asked the question, “Mrs. Palmer, do you know a Jason Palmer?”

“Yes, he’s my son.”

“We have some bad news. May we come in to speak with you?”

Inside my mind agonized. Noooo! Just go away!

With no way of erasing the dreaded news, I invited the man and his female companion inside.

“This morning a woman heard a noise. When she investigated, she found Jason’s body in a park. He shot himself.”

I went into shock and felt strangely detached. I heard a hysterical woman crying, “Not my baby, not my son. Oh, Jason, Why? Why would you leave loved ones? Why would you leave your son?”

Suddenly I realized the hysterical woman was me. Reality hit. Jason would not be coming home.

Today I still don’t have an answer to my question, “Why?” Yet I have found a renewal of hope by volunteering for a ministry on suicide prevention. This gives me a reason to keep going. I work with the knowledge that we cannot stop all suicides, but saving just one life is worth the effort. I speak whenever I can to tell young people about mental illness and that it’s OK to ask for help.

Am I still grieving?

Absolutely! Some days I wonder how I can go on. I miss Jason so much.

Yet God walks with me in my grief. My family and friends work with me in an untied effort to reach out and help others. And although none of us has found an answer to our “Why?”— we see God making a difference.

Have you suffered a similar loss? Find more articles here on Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. You also might be helped by visiting this site: Love Truth: Hope After Suicide.

Child Suicide: ADHD Children at Risk

Posted by Laurie Winslow Sargent:


Stock Photo by David Castillo Dominici (FreeDigitalPhotos.net)

We found a thoughtful article by Kara Thompson at her blog, A Mom and Dad’s View of ADHD, and wanted to share it with you. It touches on child suicide, and how ADHD children are particularly at risk.

Following is an excerpt, so be sure to click the link at the end to read the rest at her blog. There you will find critical tips to help you if you are worried about a child you love.

Kara Thompson is a  Marriage and Family Therapist in Lenexa, Kansas and a homeschooling mom of a teenage son with ADHD. You can find Kara on her website at www.karathompson.com.

 Excerpt from The Dark Side: ADHD and Suicide

Welcome to your worst nightmare: Your child says he or she wants to die, or even worse, attempts suicide. I get asked a lot about suicide, and given that it’s a timely topic on the “A Mom’s View of ADHD” Facebook page, I thought I would share some information that you may find helpful if you find yourself in a situation where suicidality is involved (or where you suspect it is involved).

It should come as no surprise to most of you that children with ADHD are at risk for depression. A recent study headed up by Benjamin Lahey, Ph.D., of the University of Chicago, found that children with ADHD are up to four times as likely to become depressed than their peers without ADHD. The study also showed that children with early ADHD were five times as likely to have considered suicide, and twice as likely to have made an attempt. Ugh.

Unfortunately, I don’t find the figures surprising. When you think of all the stress and pressure kids are under these days, it’s extremely tough for them to make their way in this crazy world. Add ADHD into the mix, and it’s downright overwhelming.

So, what do you do if your child says they want to die?

First, look at med changes – just a small increase can wreak havoc on a kiddo’s brain. Call your doctor and let her know what you are hearing and seeing. Don’t be afraid to call – that’s what they are there for! And don’t let the doctor blow you off. If your doctor tells you not to worry, it’s time to look for a new doctor.

If meds don’t seem to be a factor, start formulating a safety plan for how you can help your child, while keeping your own emotions in check. I always encourage people to err on the side of overreacting, while staying calm. I like the way Michael Bradley handles the question of suicide in his book, “Yes, Your Teen Is Crazy.” He came up with some “Critical Do’s” and “Critical Don’ts” that may be helpful to you.

(CLICK HERE to read the rest of Kara’s article with great advice from Michael Bradley, at Kara’s blog. And thank you, Kara, for sharing this with us. )

 

Help for the Family after a Child Suicide

By Karen Boerger:

How does a family cope with their painful  “new normal” after a child suicide?

 

The newspaper’s front page article at the bottom right read,  “Middle school student dies; school cancels classes.”  

“How tragic!” I thought.

As I began to read the article to see what happened, I saw that this boy was an 11-year-old fifth grader who took his own life. There was no name or reason mentioned.  It went on to tell how the school was putting together a plan to help students deal with their classmate’s death.

The superintendent said, “Anyone needing special assistance can call the school’s Crisis Hotline which the district identifies as a caring and supportive voice.” They provided the Crisis Hotline number twice in the article.

My heart aches for the family left behind after that child suicide. Did anyone have a clue that this was coming?  Would they have called the hotline on this young man’s behalf?  Would it have made a difference?  I would hope that it would have helped to give this individual a touchstone – something solid to base the rest of his life on.

It saddens me to think of what could have been for this family. All the fun a parent would have with their child as he grows up: first car, first job, prom, wedding, grandchild, etc.  It’s sad to think of the many losses.  The young man obviously had some troubles, but could they have been worked out?  Could talking with a friend, pastor, counselor, teacher, or relative have helped?  I can’t help but say, “YES!”

Even though the grief will be long, our help is in the Lord.  “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope (Romans 15:13 ESV).”  There are times we are so low that we cannot see our way out of the pit of sorrows, and yet our Lord is there with us.  God also has provided people to help us.

Here’s a video book trailer describing the difficulty families have adjusting to a “new normal” after a child takes his life with details about the book Coping Techniques After a Child’s Death, written by Sandy Fox.

According to the author, the book “consists of over 80 articles of coping techniques and informational skills to help any bereaved parent as they move through the grief process. Readers will be able to learn how to get through the holidays, read 10 inspirational stories from those who have been there, delve into the abundant resource section and read a variety of book descriptions of other literature in the field.”

Sandy also has a helpful blog: I Have No Intention of Saying Goodbye…surviving grief: death of a child at survivinggrief.blogspot.com.

One aspect of losing a child, which may or may not be mentioned in Sandy’s blog, is that believers in Christ have the additional promise of being reunited with a child in heaven. It doesn’t make missing them now less painful, but does offer hope for the future.

Worry About Teen or Child Suicide After Loss of a Loved One

By Liz Cowen Furman:

Are you concerned that a young person in your life may attempt suicide while grieving the death of a loved one?

Help is available to help prevent teen or child suicide after loss.

 

Teen or child suicide after loss of a loved family member is feared by some parents. The Dougy Center can help grieving families.

After Papa’s death our kids were very upset; partly because they didn’t get to say goodbye. They planned to go to the hospital the next day to see him. We all thought he was coming home in a day or two, not going home forever.

Papa lived with us so our children were very close to him. Our oldest was 14.  I was worried about him, so I called a local church (we had just moved and were between churches) and asked if my son could see one of their counselors. He only went for one visit, yet it seemed to help him immensely.

Sometimes just getting it off your chest is a very helpful thing. After a significant loss teenagers sometimes have a very difficult time coping. If you are helping a child through the loss of a loved one, especially if you are worried about teen suicide, below are some things to watch for and some helpful hints.

The death of a parent or other important person while the teenager still needs them can be devastating. At this age, their faith can be a big help. It is important that your teen has the chance to talk with adults who are also grieving. Expect that your teen will have things to say that are difficult. Be open to the possibility that they feel anger toward you or the one who left. Give them plenty of chances to talk about their feelings and be accepted.

Symptoms of Teen Suicide Risk After a Significant Loss

Seek help if your teen:

  • Withdraws for more than a week or two.
  • Doesn’t seem to care about school or other activities that were  important to them before the death.
  • Has trouble sleeping, does not eat, or starts having behavior problems such as destroying things.

Seek professional help immediately if your school age or teen child seems to be making plans to join the dead person and:

  • Gives away treasured possessions
  • Expresses desires to hurt or kill themselves.

A great resource for grieving children is the Dougy Center: The National Center for Grieving Children and Families. At their website you can search here for support groups in your local area ( Grief Support Programs) and find additional help. They have special webpages on the site specifically for children and teens.

Tell your child: “Hold on to hope! You will get through this time. Grieving is hard work, but remember we are walking THROUGH the valley of the shadow of death, we aren’t to stay there.”

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me.  (Psalm 138:7 NKJV)

My prayer for you today:

LORD I lift up the person reading this and ask You to give them your heart on how to help their child deal with the loss they are facing. May Your words be their words and may they all come out on the other side of this trial whole and closer to  You than ever. In JESUS Name we pray. AMEN

Lift up to God any fear of child suicide after loss, and find support for your child if necessary. Here’s a video with more information about the Dougy center: