Sitting in my room, my 16-year-old daughter and I were discussing the things that happened with her at school. We were laughing about the different antics that went on with her that day. As we laughed, she received a text message from her cousin that brought our world to a halt. I looked in her crestfallen face and I could clearly see the news she received wasn’t good. “Momma, Oh my God, Momma,” she said as tears gathered in her eyes.
“What is it? Talk to me, what is going on?” I yelled getting worried.
“Mom, they are saying DeAndre killed himself,” she said as tears streamed down her face. I screamed and told her to quit playing, but deep inside I knew she wasn’t.
At that moment everything stopped and all I thought about was how was I going to tell my son. As I searched for the words nothing would come. My heart was so heavy; my mind seemed to have shut down. I picked up the phone with shaky hands and called the one person I knew would help me find the right words to express to my son what had just happened. I called my father –in- law and through tears told him that DeAndre killed himself. He advised me to calm down and asked where my son where was. I informed him that he was at a neighbor’s house. I told my daughter to go get him. While she was gone I expressed to my father- in-law that I didn’t know how my son was going to handle the news of losing another friend, his best friend, especially since he had just lost two friends six months prior. My daughter came through the door with my son following her; I handed over the phone letting him know it was his grandfather. Taking the phone, my son thought my father-in-law was just checking in on him. It was as if everything went in slow motion. All of a sudden my son let out a gut wrenching scream I had never heard before. He dropped to the floor asking why, why did he do that, why did God do this, why, why, why was God taking all his friends? Who was he going to talk to? “Not Dee, please not Dee”, he sobbed. Still holding the phone I could hear my father- in- law telling me to hold him. I tried to embrace him, and reassure him that everything was going to be o.k., even though I wasn’t sure it would be.
DeAndre was 17 years-old and the fourth friend my son has lost to teen violence, but this time was different. DeAndre took his own life. My son stated that DeAndre was having a hard time dealing with the senseless murder of their mutual friend Demetrius who had been gunned down four months ago. While at a surprise birthday party held in Demetrius’ honor, Demetrius stepped on the porch to get some air and was shot. A kid he went to school with walked up to him and shot him in the stomach. He died in DeAndre’s arms. Knowing that DeAndre was having a hard time my son, also 17-years-old, had been talking to him, telling him they need to get their stuff together and make a change in their lives. I guess the pain was too deep because before day break on May 7, 2010 DeAndre took the gun he had kept at his home and shot himself. He later died at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.
My family and I are still trying to come to terms with what happened. It’s like there is a void that cannot be filled. My son is still grieving and trying to figure out why DheAndre killed himself when they were both dealing with the same loss. This has really tested my children’s faith, especially my nine –year- old. He wants to go by DeAndre’s grave everyday and keeps asking why did God let this happen.
I have asked myself countless times throughout the day why I didn’t see the signs. Was there something I could have said to have prevented this? DeAndre and my son never changed their behavior, they continued to do there usual things or maybe it was there and I just missed it.
My advice for teens that are contemplating suicide: please, please, get help. Talk to your friend, guidance counselor, or just be honest with your parents about what is going on in your mind because the hurt and pain you might be experiencing will not compare to the pain and despair your loved ones will feel if you take your own life. Parents ,friends ,or family members, if you suspect your loved ones might be contemplating suicide and you see any changes in them, please take the time to ask the hard questions even though it might make you feel uncomfortable. DeAndre would have never come to his grandmother or me to let us know he was truly affected by Demetrius’ death because he wouldn’t have wanted us to worry about him. Like most males they have this strong image to uphold. They never want to be considered weak. Parents talk to your daughters and especially talk to the males. Keep pressing them until they open up, and please listen to them because they are speaking, but we have to be sensitive enough to hear them. Check their Facebook and Myspace pages because right before DeAndre killed himself he left a message on MySpace saying he would not be here tomorrow and that he would be missed, but not forgotten and that he loved us and he will finally be with his brother Demetrius again.
If you are a teen that needs to talk to someone please contact the USA NATIONAL SUICIDE & CRISIS HOTLINE at 800-448-3000 or 800-784-2433. You can also go to www.yspp.org or www.teensuicide.us.
It wasn’t until DeAndre’s untimely death that I decided to look a little deeper into teen suicide. Just maybe if we would have looked beyond the surface DeAndre would still be with us.
Suicide is never the answer
Here are a few facts:
Suicide is the third leading cause of death among youths aged 15-24.
Young people attempt suicide at an alarmingly high rate: among 15-24 year olds, there is one suicide for every 100-200 attempts.
Suicide is the sixth leading cause of death among youths aged 5-14.
A youth suicide (aged 15-24) occurs every 100 minutes.
Young people can become emotionally distraught rather easily and thus are vulnerable to suicidal thoughts.
It is thus important for parents to try and pick up on any possible warning signs for suicide and to seek help for the suicidal youth as quickly as possible.
Listed below are a few of the problems that can potentially trigger suicidal thoughts in a young person:
• Death of a parent.
• Divorce of parents.
• Feeling like a “pawn” that is being used between feuding, divorced parents.
• Joining a new family with a step-parent and step-siblings.
• Breaking up with a boyfriend / girlfriend.
• Moving to a new community.
• Not feeling accepted by peers.
• Being ridiculed by classmates.
• Feeling misunderstood.
• Any experience perceived to be “humiliating.”
• Alcohol abuse.
• Drug abuse.
• Being bullied by classmates.
Retrieved from http://www.suicide.org/teen-suicide-and-youth-suicide.html
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