Tragedy

When Jerry died I couldn’t even say the word, suicide.  People would ask what he died from and I always told them he took his own life due to the brain disease CTE.  Most people don’t know what CTE is and they would look at me with pity and move on.

The world is having a suicide crisis.  If we don’t talk about it and acknowledge we have a problem we can’t solve it.  I may or may not have some 12 step experience.  Mental health covers such a broad realm of diseases.  Depression and anxiety make up a huge number of things labeled under “mental health”.   It’s just a label.  What’s the underlying cause of the depression and anxiety?

Jerry had CTE; he was anxious, depressed, and paranoid.  Since his death several other rodeo performers have taken their lives and been confirmed to have the disease.  Hockey players, BMX racers, Soccer players, basically any extreme sport enthusiast who has the potential to have multiple concussions can acquire this disease.  It’s not just the NFL players.

I always wonder when I hear about someone taking their lives if they had a concussion in their past.  I believe in protecting your brain.  Which is weird for a bareback rider’s mom, but I worry every head trauma leads to a bad place.  You do have to live your life however so sometimes your gonna take risks that make your mom nervous.

I’m going to be unconventional for a second mostly because I’ve never been a one size fits all kind of person.  Blanket statements of “all suicides must be prevented” get under my skin.  I believe some suicides are merciful.  Hear me out for a second before you tear me a new one.

Jerry did not want to be a burden on his family and he didn’t know how to stop what was happening to him.  He knew he was losing his mind and the ability to control is body.  For a man who wanted to control everything this was unacceptable to him.

Jerry made a horrendous choice, one I don’t think I would have the ability to make.  I don’t think he thought of the outcome of his actions or the impact it would have on his sons.  I forgave him the night he died, but it didn’t make the grieving process any easier.

I think of Dr. Kevorkian and his assisted suicide lawsuits.  Those people knew their lives were going to be filled with pain and loss of dignity.  For these few situations I don’t have the same gut wrenching feelings I get when I hear of kids taking their lives.  Those ill people just wanted to go home.

This afternoon my mom let me know a beautiful young man, who is her neighbors great grandson, took his life this morning.  He was 16.  He was a straight A student and an athlete.  His life hadn’t even really started and now he’s gone.  His family found him.

They are now dealing with guilt, trauma, depression and anxiety.  Not to mention, detectives, crime scene tape, crime scene clean up, funeral homes, and questions.  I lost a spouse and I knew why, I can’t fathom losing a child and not knowing what they were thinking.

When does it stop?  How do we stop it?  How many other families have to lose someone?  It is the suicides of the young people that must be stopped and awareness must increase in how to help them.

So, what are you willing to do?

This is what I’m willing to do.  I’m willing to TALK about failure, disappointment, and overcoming obstacles.  I’m willing to TALK about accepting yourself.  I am willing to be tolerant of “weird” ideas.  I am willing to be your friend, surrogate mom, sister, niece, whatever you need.  I am willing to feed you, offer you a place to stay, help you get professional help.

I am willing to remind you that YOU ARE IMPORTANT.

But first we have to put down our phones, I’m as guilty as anyone for allowing electronics to rule my house. It’s easier to have an electric thing entertain a whining kid than to figure out what’s making them whine in first place.  It’s far more fun to create that perfect Facebook life than deal with the harsh reality of the mess you are in.  I get it.  I’ve done it.   I’m committing to less time on the phone and more old fashioned interaction time with my kid.

We have a generation of kids who can’t do anything for themselves and we as the parents are to blame.  When they have a little set back it’s the end of the world for them.  I learned about failure from an amazing friend who helped me see that failure only occurs when you quit.

Got kicked off the baseball team?  Figure out why and then go play soccer or lacrosse, make that coach regret it.  Don’t take your life.  Get a C on a test, why isn’t it an A?  I got that one all the time.  Here’s the answer, I don’t have to be exceptional in everything just the things I love.  I did not love math, therefore I got C’s.  You know what, I still have an amazing job that requires some math and they get C quality math skills.  I’m still successful.   Don’t take your life because of a C.

We need to step up as adults and make some changes.  So if you are over the age of 25 I’m talking to you.  You’ve made it past the years of teenage angst, reach out to the little brothers and sisters in your life whether they share your blood or not.  Help them see that this one day, this really bad one day they are having is going to pass.

The night Jerry died was super dark, no moon out or anything.  I didn’t sleep that night.  I was simply astounded when the sun started to appear over the mountains.  The people who are contemplating taking their lives need to know that the sun is going to shine again, even if they can’t believe it, the rest of us can.

I have become tolerant in my wisdom seeking years.  I relate to Marshall Mathers aka Eminem more and more:

I don’t care  if you are white, black, straight, gay, trans, rich, poor, fat, skinny, republican, democrat, conservative, liberal, cute, ugly, Christian, Muslim, foreign or domestic .  If you are nice to me I’m going to be nice to you.  And that is that.  I may have paraphrased a smidge…

If you or someone you know is thinking of taking their own life reach out to local law enforcement or the national suicide hotline.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Phone Number
  • 1-800-273-8255

You are loved.

 

 

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