Any suicide notes left by two 18-year-old Colorado State University students haven’t been released yet, but I already know what they most likely say: “The world will be better off without me.”
There might not be a note, or the wording might be different (saying it’s their family or friends who will be better off without them) but that’s the message their final act conveys.
I know because when I was 12, my 15-year-old brother left us a note like that. And as a suicide survivor, I can tell you that it’s never true. The world is never a better place when a teen takes his or her own life and a family is never better off without one of its young members.
The overall rate of suicide among adolescents has tripled over the past 60 years, according to a report from the National Mental Health Association. It is now the third leading cause of death among 15- to 24-year-olds and the second leading cause of death among college-age students.
What haunts survivors is that this third leading cause of death is preventable.
My Dad, who shared his birthday with my brother, didn’t have to mourn every August 30th. My mother didn’t have to pause every year at Christmas when she unpacks the brass stars my brother made in metal shop. My daughters could have met their Uncle.
I could have gone through life without worrying about when the ones I love will be abruptly taken from me.
My 9-year-old keeps asking me what happened to Uncle Mark. I don’t want to tell her about suicide. I don’t want to tell her that people can wake up under heavy, dark clouds every day and think the sun is never going to come out again. I don’t want to tell her that people can die from the lack of hope.
Hope is the only thing we have to stem suicide.
In the aftermath of my brother’s death, I remember talking to a teen who had killed a woman while he was driving drunk. He had been planning to commit suicide, when a girl approached him in the halls of their high school and offered him a piece of gum. Knowing that one person cared, that there was hope for others caring for him again in the future, was enough to keep him alive.
You can save lives. If know someone is hurting, even if you just suspect they are, reach out to them. Let them know that you, for one, would not be better off without them.
Read with: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tR-qQcNT_fY