Category Archives: Suicide Awareness/Prevention

Life Moments #27 – Changes

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Reading this quote made me think about change in my own life. I came to the conclusion that:

Change is not my friend.

As many of you know, my son passed away three months ago.

As I said:

Change is not my friend.

Losing him has been one hell of a change, a change that I definitely have not been able to accept. At least, I’m doing a pretty crappy job of it right now.

The day I lost him, my world dropped out from under me. These days, it seems like I am just floating through my life.

Here, but not here.

I have carefully catalogued each memory of him into my mind, but don’t let them surface very often yet. It is quite painful.

But, I recently was going through some computer discs and came upon some goodies.

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Over the last few days, I have had quite a few melt-downs. I feel like I am drowning in this heartache. Nothing around me makes sense and although I should feel joy, the hurt is just too big. I went to his grave, like I do most days, and just sat there.

Not talking.

Not scolding.

Not feeling.

Just crying.

I sat there and just cried.

I want the pain to stop, but it won’t.

I want Darren to be back with us, but he’s not going to be.

I want the tears to stop, but they won’t.

I am a jumbled up mess right now. Will I ever be normal again?

Change is not my friend. Even less now than ever.

 

#FightSuicide #SuicideSucks #lovehimforeverlikehimforalways #MissinHimBad #Iamnowbroken

 

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Life Moments #26 – Missin’ My Baby

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I sat and stared at your picture today.

It still doesn’t seem real that you are gone.

Honestly, it can’t be real.

Can it?

I have spent a lot of time thinking of the short seventeen years, four months, and six days you were with us. I thought about all the laughter and the tears. I thought about the triumphs and the fears. I thought about the many sleepless nights, from infancy to teenager.

Sometimes, I want to run, just run, screaming for you to come back. Other times, I sit and cry. Sometimes, I want to hit the wall or a tree, just hit something so hard because you’re gone. The early morning we got the news, we waited to tell the kids until later in the day. However, we found out everybody already knew and we didn’t want the kids to find out from someone else so we picked them up from school. I remember your middle brother telling me he wanted to hit something because he was angry that you were gone.

OMGoodness, it was such a shock to the little kids. To me, I was stunned. I didn’t have a reaction right away other than disbelief, like it wasn’t true, but I knew. To this day, I wish I hadn’t carried that fear because maybe if it wasn’t a fear then it wouldn’t be true and I wouldn’t be typing this right now.

And still I ask, it can’t be real.

Can it?

I think about you constantly. My mind is jumbled with thoughts of you, of helping others, and letting our tragedy make a difference for someone else.

But, I just can’t get past how stuck I feel, as if I am sinking in quicksand and nobody around me can help. People move on. People accept it, remember you, but move on. Why do I feel so stuck?

Every day, I get up slowly and I look around. And I remember that you aren’t here so I try to graciously get through another day. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I talk about you all the time. I write about you mostly. I show pictures of you that I have on my phone to your baby sister. I have been teaching her your name. She can almost say it, so garbled that it doesn’t sound anything like your name, but it is. One day she will say it clearly!

I still can’t believe you are gone. And all I want to know is…..

WHY?

and

How do I go on?

 

 

#missinhimbad #Darren #lovehimforeverlikehimforalways #FightSuicide #suicidesucks

Life Moments #25 – Hanging On…..Barely

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These last few days of summer are busy, busy, busy trying to get everything ready for the school year. Today’s agenda: took a couple of the kids to their semi-annual dental appointment.

As I sat in the waiting area for my kids’ turn, I watched everyone scurrying around me as they, too, were doing the last minute dental check-ups. It was a busy place today! I observed in my own quiet way. The introvert that I am, I just watched. Kids here and there, even ran into a friend’s son, someone who knew my son. He kindly ask me how I was doing, but I try to stay away from the subject of Darren with most people as it….it’s a hard topic for me. I told him we were hanging in as expected and then changed the subject back to him and his accomplishments. He has been kind of a big deal at his high-school the last few years due to his wrestling skills so I gave him congrats on his upcoming freshman year in college and more wrestling. Yes, I’m guilty. I don’t know all the wrestling terms, but it was nice to see him. I know his parents are proud of his hard work and commitment. He will do great things in his life. My point here was that I just needed to change the subject from my son to something a lot less emotional for me.

As he said goodbye and left with his friends, I went back to my observing. Each family was there for a purpose, a dental check-up and as I watched their perfectly ordinary lives from the outside looking it, nothing seemed askew. The children chatted, the parents or parent thumbed through magazines and conversed with their children. And as we normally see, many people were on their phones, completely oblivious to the noise around them. I continued my observing, most of the time lost in thought – a black cloud hovering above me – wondering what their lives were really like. Nobody except the receptionist knew of what had happened to my son. To be kind, she asked how we were doing – a well-meaning question full of concern, but it cuts so deeply as my heartbreak is still so recent. It’s only been three months. A question that is asked with the best of intentions, but painful nonetheless.

Every day I swim in this grief, trying with all my heart to claw my way out of the darkness, but not having much luck. I wonder if everyone else knows and just not saying anything because what is there really to say? What are the other people in this place really thinking?

They don’t know. How could they?

Finally, our turn. As we made our way to the exam tables, the boys needed updated dental x-rays so we started there. Looks like braces in the near future for one, the other just needs to brush his teeth better. What is it with kids and brushing their teeth? You would think they would want clean teeth! 

Time to exit my head and put on my focus hat because now it’s time to drive. It felt like a really long day, but in all actuality, we were only gone about 3 hours.

In my grief-stricken state of mind, three hours that felt like a week and now my mind is exhausted.

How does grief have that affect on people?

Hmmm……

He’s never far from my thoughts. The pain is always with me.

#heavyheart #MissinHimBad #Darren #Smoochie #anotherdaywithouthim #FightSuicide

 

 

Remembering Darren Giveaway!

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Many of you may not know me personally or even know my Darren personally, but he wasn’t just one of my children. He brought blessings that only he could bring into our life. I feel we all have a purpose on this earth. Some may never know their purpose, and I may not even know mine, but one purpose for me was to raise a family. My husband and I are still pretty young, only 38, so our children are still pretty young, too. We haven’t completely raised them yet. My oldest is 19, Darren was 17, then 14, 13, 13, 8, 6, 5, almost 1….we have a ways to go before they are actually “raised.” However, it is with a big heart that I strive to accomplish my purpose of raising a family.

Losing Darren has been a hard battle, to say the least. My mind hasn’t fully comprehended that he’s gone although I know that he is.

It is through outreach, promoting suicide awareness, and talking about him that helps keep him alive. He may no longer be here in his body, but he will always be here in my heart.

So, far all who knew him, I ask you to talk of him as well.

Tell your stories of him.

Remember his goodness and laughter.

Remember his shining personality and help others to know him through your memories.

Many of you know by now that one way I am keeping him alive in my heart is by contributing to suicide awareness. I am getting involved in the fight against suicide. I firmly believe suicide can be prevented. It can be prevented by reaching out to those who are in a dark place. For instance, my son was texting a girl the night he took his life. He told her what he was doing. She could have prevented this from happening if she had had the courage, the decency, to call someone (his father, myself, 911) when she received the first message.

But, this post isn’t about her lack of action.

I am asking you to get involved.

I am asking you to pay attention.

I am asking each of you to contribute your own memory of Darren. Please comment your memory below.

 

In remembrance of Darren, the first three (3) people to comment their memory of him, will receive a gift to honor him.

Let’s remember Darren.

Let’s #fightsuicide together.

Life Moments #19 – I Thought of You Today

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I thought of you today

     which is nothing new

     because I think of you every day

     a million times through.

You remember this picture?

I didn’t take it, but when I seen it…I just fell in love with it.

There’s just something about it that caught my eye. I have always loved the photos that are taken as someone is walking toward and/or away from the photographer. I used to practice with you and Haylie doing exactly that.

As I’ve said before, some days are okay and some days are

So. Not. Okay.

Today wasn’t too bad.

I thought of you and I cried for the millionth time since you went to Heaven, but I was a little bit okay.

And I have good news!

Your friends’ mom — no names yet!! — and I are working together to accomplish a goal to start a non-profit. Well, today your friends’ mom set up a meeting with a contact who, hopefully, will get us pointed in the right direction. It’s a small feat, but it’s a big feat! I am excited!

She and I have been working on a name for the non-profit, our trademark, and our slogan. Our goal is to help others who feel that same hopelessness. I have been pretty busy doing research into suicide and of course, non-profit information gathering.

I am also still working on getting the team organized for the walk coming up. Our team is doing well by way of participants.

The funds aren’t quite making our goal, but the walk support is there. I have ordered our team shirts. Now, I need to get some posters done, bracelets ordered, and beads bought. Suicide awareness, here we come!

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I was invited to a Suicide Prevention meeting taking place in the middle of August. I am looking forward to that. And then, in September, I am invited to attend a conference with some of ND representatives to address the suicide issue. These meetings will hopefully encourage needed changes in regard to suicide in ND. I am excited to be involved. I am your voice!

Every day, I wonder how our tragedy can make a difference in the lives of others. I miss you so much. And with that, my thoughts are haunted with your words, “It’s just Darren gone.” As I said before, to me, it’s not just Darren gone. A piece of my heart went with you. I will never let it be “just Darren gone.”

As much as or as little as I accomplish in my day, you linger in my mind, my heart. You will forever be there and that’s the way I want it!

I thought of you today

     which is nothing new

     because I think of you every day

     a million times through.

We will fight suicide with hopes of saving other’s from this heartache.

#nomoresuicide #suicideawareness #suicideprevention

Suicide – Every Life Matters

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Suicide can and does wreak havoc on families across the nation much more than is realized. The only suicides we hear on national news are the suicides of entertainers as if their lives and families are the only lives affected by suicide. On local news, we hear nothing of suicides.

Why not?

Many fear that speaking of suicide may glorify it thus generate more suicides.

Sadly, ignoring the issue does nothing to help.

All lives matter. My son’s life mattered. He mattered to me. To his father. To his siblings. To aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and friends.

When we take a crisis – such as suicide – and only pay attention or promote awareness when its an entertainer (movies, music, sports, etc) we do the lives of every-day citizens and society as a whole a great disservice.

Every life matters.

It wasn’t long ago when my son took his life. In fact, I am very much still trying to get past the shock and disbelief. My friends and family have been supportive. I haven’t faced any rude comments, but I have dealt with change of subject when the topic of my son’s death comes up. I understand that people are uncomfortable with the subject or,  possibly, tired of hearing about it. I understand. I do not judge or condemn. I just go on doing what I do.

Since I lost my son, I’ve learned a few things as I stumble through my grief.

  • I do not want to glorify my son’s death, but I do want people to understand the emotional pain that got him to the point of no return. Emotional pain can be caused by any number of circumstances, but from what I’ve read, it often arises from depression or other mental illness.
  • My son didn’t take his life to hurt me or anyone else. He was not trying to cause anybody any pain. He took his life to end his own pain because he didn’t know any other way. In that state of hopelessness the individual does not – cannot – think past his/her emotional frame of mind. This is where suicide awareness, mental illness, depression awareness plays such an important role. Feelings are normal and society needs to get educated that strength is in talking about these issues rather than hiding the issues.
  • I am now THAT person. THAT person who has lost someone. THAT person whose child took his life. THAT person forever affected by suicide. THAT person who will use that tragic loss to spread awareness – to help others. THAT person who will always talk and never forget about my son and who hopes you talk about and never forget him either. His life made a difference.
  • How one person experiences grief is completely different than the next. Grief is personal and it is a necessary part of the healing process.
  • We all walk a similar path: uphill battles and downhill coasts. We stumble and we fall, but our paths have different circumstances and trials to stress and/or rejoice over. We all carry burdens no one else knows about. When we cross paths with another just remember, he/she has a story, too.
  • Before I ever had personal experience with suicide, my attitude was a common one: “how selfish of this person to do that, cause that kind of pain, to people who loved him/her. It is only through this tragic loss and witnessing my son’s pain that I realized: Suicide is not selfish nor was the individual. The person who takes his/her life believes suicide to be the only way out.

Again, society needs education rather than condemnation concerning what strength is in relation to emotions and mental illness.

Become a society in which people can show “presumed” weaknesses without fear of judgement.

My son once said ‘I don’t talk about my feelings because I don’t want to be some emotional freak show or give ammunition to use against me later.’

Feelings are normal. Everyone has them. It’s all in how we handle our feelings that makes the difference. Never shame someone for their feelings. Never shame them for voicing their feelings.

Why is that what we are teaching our children, our teenagers? Why are we teaching our teens to keep it all bottled inside when most adults can’t handle it? Why do we expect more from our youth than we expect from our adult selves?

#SuicideAwareness #SuicidePrevention #SaveaLifebyBeingaFriend

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Life Moments #18 – One More Day

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This is one of my favorite pictures of you and your baby sister. I remember this day like it was yesterday…I remember all the days like they were yesterday. Anywhooo….you came in after school and lounged on the furniture for a bit. It was very seldom that you were without socks, but for some reason, you didn’t have socks on at this time. You picked her up from me and proceeded to lay down on the floor with her. I remember you saying all the time that she didn’t like you because she fussed when you held her, but you held her anyway. You loved her so much.

And we miss you so much. I think about you constantly throughout the day. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I smile. Sometimes I laugh. But you are always in my mind.

I have so many different things running through my head about you, about suicide, about how what has happened to us can help others, about your siblings and their stories, about Dylan and Heaven…..about everything. Speaking of your siblings and their stories, they have such good stories. I encouraged them to go to a suicide loss support group and we went this evening. I only spectated as it was a children’s support group. To start the group they introduced themselves and you. Throughout the hour, the told stories of you and how this loss has impacted their lives. They mostly told stories of your tough truck. They goofed off by telling some silly stories. And they enjoyed telling the stories. They laughed at the antics you guys pulled together. They had the leader of the group giggling.

Oh, how they loved you, love you still. I will never get the image out of my head of the moment that we told them of your death. They miss you terribly. I want you to know, Darren, that you impacted their life while you were here. They looked forward to seeing you all the time. They missed you so much when you weren’t with us and the stories that get them through their days now involve so much of you. Those last two months before you took your life left a mark on them as well. Now they hold every memory with you so dear to their heart.

Oh buddy, how different life is without you!

We just continue to move forward, or at least try, one day at a time.

Today was just one more day.

Another day without you.

Another day thinking of you.

Another day wondering why.

One more day………

Let’s raise Suicide Awareness in hopes of preventing other families from going through this same heartache, preventing others from believing suicide is the only way out.

 

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Life Moments #17 – Living with Loss

Suicide is on the rise across the nation. As a society, we must pull together to educate adults and our youth when it comes to mental illness, depression and other medical issues that can lead to suicide. Education starts in our homes, in the schools, in our churches and youth activities.

We can start by showing what suicide looks like from the perspective of a suicide loss survivor.

I am NOT Crazy!

My friend posted the story below to me this morning. The story comes from the Blog

The Life I Didn’t Choose @ https://thelifeididntchoose.com

My friend posted it to me in form of support. I am lucky to have met her and her daughter. She was not someone I knew, but her daughter and my son were friends. When my son died, they contacted me and attended his wake and funeral. I have only met them those two times, but we have talked frequently via text and FB messaging. My son made an impact on their life and now they are making an impact on mine. ♥♥♥♥

It was just over a year after Dominic’s accident and a friend forwarded an article about odd behaviors of those who were “stuck’ in grief.  Along with the forward was a little tag, “Reminds me of you.”

It hurt my feelings.

And it was inappropriate.

Because not only had I not participated in any of the listed behaviors (most of which anyone would deem odd and some that were actually harmful) but as far as I could tell, I was doing pretty good, considering.

Considering I went to bed one night with four children alive and well and woke in the wee hours of the next day to the news that one was dead.

No warning.  No good-byes.

Just gone.

In the months since that day I had gotten up each morning and taken care of necessary tasks.  I was not abusing alcohol, drugs or food.  I was still exercising when I could.

And I was engaged with my family -working with them to put the pieces of our shattered lives and hearts back together again.

Yes, I cried.  A lot.  No, I didn’t like to be around crowds.  I stayed at home much more than before. I struggled with anxiety when anything out of the ordinary happened.  I found small talk hard to follow and forgot things (still do). And I was not participating in many “extra” activities.

I slept with Dominic’s pillows………To continue this story, click the link below.

via I am NOT Crazy!

After reading her story, I can definitely say, I understand where she’s coming from because I am there myself.

I can say your child’s death is not something you ‘get over.’

I am there, in her spot, and will be for the rest of my life.

And like her, I don’t wish this heartache, the loss on anyone. In fact, I hope that my story can help others.

***FYI, I am uncertain how her child passed away. She does not say in her story. Suicide is my son’s story.

Suicide: Facing the Facts

22405754_10210525861967178_1941262998951808257_n As a parent who has lost a child to suicide, my mind often reels with questions….

About. Everything. To. Do. With. His. Suicide.

Also, as a parent, I like to think that I knew everything about him, about all of my children. I am fooled into thinking that they tell me all about their lives, leaving nothing out.

The sad truth is: children, especially those in adolescence, do not tell their parents ever half of what is in their minds. I think back to my adolescent years and I cringe at all the things I kept from my parents because now I have an idea of what my children keep from me. So, what leads an adolescent to keep secrets from parents?

Again, thinking back on my own adolescent years, I kept secrets because:

  • low self-esteem
  • believing I wouldn’t be accepted as I was
  • not trusting the adults that my life would go right
  • not wanting to hurt the people that I loved
  • fear of repercussions
  • feeling alone and unheard.

These are feelings and thoughts that I can remember about my own adolescence.

Now, do all teen and young adults fell and think this way? I couldn’t tell you that. I suppose at some point they do because they are trying to figure out who they are outside of their parents. I am inclined to believe some of these feelings/thoughts are true of most teens and young adults, but I also believe whether these feelings are true of all young people depends on their home life, where they are raised, how they are raised, and other contributing factors.

Okay, so then I look at my son’s suicide. I keep asking myself why. I suppose why is the biggest question parents and loved ones face when an individual takes that route. While I may never know the exact why, if it can be pinpointed to any one thing or not, I can learn something from his death that will hopefully strengthen my the relationships with my other children.

Not a consolation by any means, but……I feel guilty for even thinking these thoughts, but letting something good from his death is on the road to healing….or so I’ve been told.

My question now, is:

Can suicide be prevented?

Non-profit organizations such as American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and International Association for Suicide Prevention believe through research, education, and bringing awareness, society can get a reign on suicide.

Current suicide statistics

According to the AFSP (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/suicide-statistics/), suicides statistics in the US are as follows:

  • the 10th leading cause of death in the US
  • 44, 965 people die by suicide each year
  • for every suicide, 25 attempt

According to North Dakota Department of Health (http://www.ndhealth.gov/suicideprevention/?id=57), suicide statistics in ND are as follows:

  • the ninth leading cause of death overall
  • second leading cause of death between ages 15 and 24
  • North Dakota’s suicide rate is higher than the national average

No, facts and statistics aren’t any fun to most people. I, myself, hate reading stats and figures because they make no sense to me. I can see the numbers, but that’s really all it is: numbers.

My question is: how do we help lessen the numbers? How do we make those figures smaller, almost non-existent?

The answer: pay attention. Pay attention to your children, your loved ones. Pay attention to their behaviors, routines, words, and actions. Pay attention closely because then even the slightest change will be noticed.

According to ND Suicide Prevention Program (http://www.ndhealth.gov/suicideprevention/?id=57), the following information can be helpful:

  1. Most people exhibit warning signs: words, actions, and behaviors
  2. Ask direct questions if suicide becomes a concern
  3. Offer help to anyone who exhibits suicidal signs.
  4. Most suicide attempters and victims don’t want to end their life, they want to end their pain, their confusion so intervention, even forced, is always worthwhile.
  5. Long-term care is necessary for those considering suicide, but knowing the warning signs and immediate intervention can save lives.
  6. Take every suicide mention or behavior seriously — this one I cannot stress enough. In my son’s case, his mentions were not taken seriously by his father and father’s girlfriend, his own girlfriend or an employee of the juvenile court system.

Of course, knowing risk factors of suicide can be helpful as well. According to the AFSP (https://afsp.org/about-suicide/risk-factors-and-warning-signs/), these factors include:

  • mental health conditions
  • serious physical health
  • traumatic brain injury
  • access to lethal means (guns, drugs, etc.)
  • prolonged stress: harassment, bullying, relationship problems, unemplyment
  • stressful life events: divorce, rejection, financial crisis, loss
  • previous suicide attempts
  • family history of suicide and
  •  childhood abuse, neglect or trauma

So, again,

Can suicide be prevented?

I believe my son’s could have and if his could have, then anyone else’s can be as well.

And again, I cannot stress enough:

Pay attention to your loved ones. If you think you do it sufficiently already, then double your efforts.