Bobbi is a grieving mom, published author of two books about losing her teenage son to depression, a guest speaker, and an advocate for suicide awareness and prevention.
On Friday, February 24th, the our former community in N. Texas, was once again impacted by mental health. This time, an 8th grader. When are we going to say, “this is one too many. No more!”? When are we, as a community and country, going to come together and have the difficult conversations about mental health, depression, anxiety, bullying, etc. If we DO NOT have the difficult conversations, this epidemic will never end.
In the U.S., over the past 15 years, suicide rates have continued to climb at a rate of 15%. In other developed countries, it has dropped. An official with the CDC stated one of the reasons is lack of facilities to handle mental health, especially in rural areas. He also cited a study, based in a community of several neighboring cities, where doctors and ER staff asked every new patient they encountered, “Are you suicidal or suffering from depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue?” the patient was more likely to share if they are struggling vs. not asking and leaving it up to the patient to volunteer that info.
We lost our teenage son to suicide three years ago in April, after a toxic relationship with an on again/off again ex-girlfriend. We knew he was struggling with anxiety and depression. After a suicide attempt by OD, we admitted him to a mental health facility for a week. He received the last bed available for teens in the DFW area at a facility we did not prefer, but we had no choice. Only 10 facilities currently accept teens in the DFW area. Our last two weeks with him were great. It was if we had our son back to his former self before she came along; but, he could not get past it and took his life in her front yard.
The numbers from 2016 are staggering: (for comparison purposes only) 16,238 Murders 44,965 Suicides 64,000 Over Doses 1,124,125 ATTEMPTED SUICIDES (these are just the ones that get reported) *Many OD’s are actually suicides, but do not get labeled as such unless a note is left behind The World Health Organization has designated depression as the #1 killer in the world! Depression far surpasses cancer and all other diseases in the cause of death.
Every day, 105 Americans die by suicide Over 44k Americans die by suicide each year 79% of all US suicide deaths are male 22 the average number of active duty/vets we lose per day to suicide Majority of suicides occur on Monday’s Most occur during or after holidays -CDC 75% who committ suicide are depressed -University of Texas
Teen Suicide Stats:
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for ages 15-24 Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death for ages 10-14 # per year 4,600 # Suicides per day 12 #attempts per year 575k 19.3% high school students have seriously considered it 14.5% have actually made plans 900k have planned to commit suicide during an episode of major depression Females attempt 3x more often than males Males are 4x more likey to die by suicide than females 81% suicide deaths in teens are male (NCSL)
Triggers for Teens:
Bullying Depression/Anxiety Disorder Substance Abuse Relationship Divorce Death of Friend/Loved One Rejection Loss of friend to Suicide Family History Impulsive/Aggressive tendencies Trauma or Abuse Local Cluster of Suicide -CDC
‘People who talk about it won’t really do it’ – NOT TRUE ‘Anyone who tries to kill themselves must be crazy’ – NOT TRUE ‘If a person is determined to do it, nothing will stop them’ – NOT TRUE ‘People who commit suicide are people who are unwilling to seek help’ –NOT TRUE – more than half seek help with in 6 months prior to their death ‘Talking about suicide may give someone the idea’ –NOT TRUE
Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
It’s Okay To Say I’m Not Okay
A campaign released last year targeting the stigma attached to mental health was launched nationwide. In each region, local celebrities/popular sports figures participated in the PSA spot. Emmitt Smith and Mark Cuban appeared in N. Texas’ version. It features different people making statements, such as:
‘My wife has cancer. Why is not okay for me to say my daughter suffers from depression?’‘My husband died from a brain tumor. Why is not okay to say I am suffering from anxiety?’
This campaign is a HUGE step in the right direction to bring mental health out of the darkness and into the light. If we, as parents, can let our children know, ‘It’s okay to say your not okay’, then maybe they will be more willing to open up to us about what they are feeling and struggling with in terms of emotions, relationships, friendships, pressure, etc. Parents need to be comfortable to ask their kids, ‘Have you ever considered suicide or you depressed.’ I KNOW! TRUST ME – I KNOW! You’re thinking I can’t ask that! The first time the ex broke up with Pierce, he came home crying, ran into his room and locked the door. I knocked and he told me to leave him alone. Fifteen minutes later, he texted asking me to come talk. He was struggling because he was the perfect boyfriend and couldn’t understand why she would be doing this when he had done nothing wrong. After our talk, I asked him, ‘Your not thinking about hurting yourself, are you?’ His reply, ‘No Mom, I would never do that to you or Dad’. Tell your kids, often, SUICIDE IS A PERMANENT SOLUTION TO A TEMPORARY PROBLEM.
In my student speeches, I tell them to think back to a time last year that something happened that seemed like the end of the world and they thought they’d never survive it. Well, here you are today. You survived. And guess what, something will happen this year that’s horrible; but, remember, you survived last year, so survive this year. We must teach our kids coping skills. Our generation has raised our children where everyone receives a participation trophy. Oh, you didn’t pass the test? Here, take it again until you do. You’re the best. You’re going to get into this college, etc. We all know that is not how real life works. Without coping skills, they will not survive this often cruel world.
NEVER BELIEVE YOU OR YOUR FAMILY IS IMMUNE TO SUICIDE.
It is an equal opportunity employer. As my husband said, “It’s not if/it’s when you or a loved one will be touched by mental health.” My books “Our Year of First Without You” ‘A journey through suicide and organ donation’ and the follow up “Living Without You,” are available on Amazon. I am currently booking speaking engagements for PTA/PTO, civic groups, church groups, conferences, youth groups, schools, etc.