A few days ago, I was very busy with my day, trying to figure out how to help my son raise money for his run at school, when to start selling popcorn for Boy Scouts and see if we could hit a new goal, busy with the everyday things at home. All of a sudden, it was here again. I got the news that 3 suicides happened in our community in the lapse of 3 days, and one in particular hit close to home.
Hoping that the news was wrong, I started to research to see if it was true or not. That day I found out that it was true, and everything stopped. Collecting money for the run or popcorn sales became the least of my worries, and fear and pain came upon me. Trying to understand the impossible was almost an insane thing to do.
A couple of weeks ago, I published my blog post “No Guarantees.” I talked specifically about how it sucks that we can’t make sure everything will be alright all the time. At the end of that post, my thought was to focus and choose in the now. The next day I found out the tragic news, and it was almost impossible to focus on the now. The now was dark, the now was painful. It was scary and worrisome.
When I was younger, I did not hear about suicide. One part of me thought that it only happened to depressed people. I even thought that it happened to the weak and selfish. In the last 4 years, I have known too many people that killed themselves or families that have suffered because of it. The first thing I thought of was how we can prevent this. How can I make sure my kid never, ever tries this? So I chose not to put it in his vocabulary. He is just 9 years old; he does not need to know about this, right?
The events that happened in our community the last few days scared me to death. The kids that made the decision of ending their lives were not necessarily bullied, did not show a great deal of sadness or depression or had family problems. So how the hell am I going to prevent this? There was no way to avoid this taboo subject for me since the school already was giving the tragic news to the kids. I asked myself, “Why is it that I can talk about drugs and sex to my 9 years old, and I have such a problem talking about suicide? Do I really think that if I talk about it that I am putting ideas in his head?”
I know well enough to ask for help and advice and reached out. I am glad I did. The message I got was to talk about it so that our kids know there are other options. And it hit me: yes, it is true, there are other options even when we think there are not. So I put on my big girl pants and talked to my son about suicide. And not just about him killing himself but about his friends and the whole community. We talked about kindness and compassion, about our circle of trust, about emotions, about death and what would be the worst thing that could happen to him and what he could do about it.
After that talk, I thought I should feel better and safer, but I didn’t. I started to question myself, my family, my community, all of it. Many of you know how much I love my family and how much I try to live a positive life, but it made me sad that every time a tragedy like this happens it is a reminder of how much love I should show to my kid. I saw on social media reminders to hug our kids, suicide hotlines, etc., and I said to myself: “Do we really need this to happen so I can focus more on my family?”
In the last years, every time there was a suicide the community came together, but I also saw judgment:
“Yeah, I saw it coming.”
“Well that family was always busy. They did not have time for the kid.”
“Those kids played video games all day. That’s why.”
“They had family problems.”
Some think they parent better than others. There was that eye of “That won’t happen to my family.” Well guess what: I have seen it happen to all kinds of family.
I am guilty of choosing not to play with my kid because I want to catch up on Scandal. I have been guilty of making sure my house is spotless instead of spending time with my family. The last few days I spoke to my family about how sad I was that I was not trying my best, and knowing that life is so fragile, I still was not trying my best. To that my son responded: “Mama do not manifest that. Focus on the positive.”
Again a reminder of the now, a reminder of no guarantees, a reminder that there are other options, a reminder of expressing yourself, and a reminder that even though you try your best things can happen.
Because I am passionate about life and helping others to be their TrueSelf, I have become obsessed with suicide. How can we prevent it? But again I found obstacles because suicide has been a taboo. It has been an embarrassment, a private matter, a topic of judgment; we do not talk about it. We only hear about suicide when someone is dead. Guess what?! Did you know that many try to take their own lives and we don’t know about it? And I understand why those parents don’t want the community to know; in the end, they will be judged, so I don’t blame them. But I would like to change that idea. When did we become such a hypocritical culture? Can’t we just be there for each other?
Suicide does not only happen to the poor, to the person with a mental illness, to the kid whose parents were too busy, to the nerd, to the bullied. Suicide happens to the wealthy, to the social kid, to the person who smiles all the time, to the mom who has the perfect family.
So how are we failing?
Last weekend I attended the funeral. I apologized to the parents for only becoming a community when these tragedies happened. I apologized for life using their kid to send us a huge wake up call. It is time to talk about it.
I have been in many funerals for this kind of tragedy, and one of the things I don’t like hearing is this: “Have Jesus in your heart.”; “Heaven is a place where there is not pain.”; etc. Why don’t I like hearing this? Because I know people that had Jesus in their hearts, and yet they chose to leave this world. I saw people in pain, and because heaven is a place of peace, they tried to get to heaven faster.
What message did I get with this last suicide at the funeral?
Let’s not judge. It can happen to all of us.
We were created with eyes, with mouth, with ears to use with our community, not to be on our phones. Let’s not wait for another tragedy so we can be better parents and a better community.
And it is time to take action.
I have had a hard time walking my talk these past 2 weeks because I know better to focus on love and not on fear. But I have to be honest and real to all of you: I have been focusing on fear, on the fear that this will happen again. So I hope this blog gives me closure and that I will still focus on this issue from a point of love.
Because I love my son, my family, my community, my country, the world and most importantly myself, I will continue to talk about it and continue to model a life of non-judgment.
We get signs everyday of how to live a life of love and community, but we choose not to pay attention until it happens to us or close to us. These kids that died had a message for us: let’s not let their deaths mean nothing.
We can’t do this alone; we need each other to be a better us, a better world.