How could I not know?

My son suffered from depression and addiction. Suicide never crossed my mind. How could I not know?

I know some people wonder that about kids who kill themselves. Kids who do drugs. Kids who stockpile weapons and shoot up schools. Kids who end up pregnant as teens. How is it we don’t know? Were we too busy? Too unconnected? Were we not religious enough? Did we not love enough?

No.

The truth is we can’t imagine our kids doing any of these things. And that’s how it happens. Because we are caught off guard. Way off guard. Sometimes our brains are stuck in a time warp and we still think of them as 10 year olds.

We think we know our kids so well. Charles and I were close. He often confided in me. But he never, ever told me he was thinking of suicide. He did talk an awful lot about death and dying but about his depression he was adamant he didn’t suffer from it. While I knew, his denial did plant a seed of doubt that his diagnosis might be wrong.

I was tuned in. I knew he was depressed but I think your mind puts up barriers and won’t let you imagine that your child, your precious child, could follow through with an act so shocking.

We often look at the parents after a school shooting. We want to blame someone. It’s got to be someone’s fault! After a suicide, we blame ourselves.  Sometimes we blame someone else or society. The rap music. The internet. The school. If our child gets involved with drugs. It must be those friends who influenced him!

In our minds we want it to be simple. Bad guys and good guys.

But it’s never, ever that simple. There are often multiple reasons and contributing factors. Solutions often have to take into account multiple strategies even if some of them are ultimately simple.  You have to look at the root of the problem and work inside out. Short term solutions can serve as a bandaid but you can’t let what’s causing the wound fester for too long. You have to dig deep.

I rarely torture myself with “How could I not know?” any more because doing so does not help me reach a goal. It doesn’t help me heal. It’s nothing but destructive and I have to recognize that and let that one go.

I hope if you have a, “How could I not know?” in your life, you can let it go, too. That question may come back and try to suck you in but you can’t let it back in. Self destruction is never a good strategy.

 

How could I resent your child’s cancer fundraiser?

Published by

Anne Moss Rogers

I am an emotionally naked TEDx speaker, and author of the Book, Diary of a Broken Mind and co-author with Kim O'Brien PhD, LICSW of Emotionally Naked: A Teacher's Guide to Preventing Suicide and Recognizing Students at Risk. I raised two boys, Richard and Charles, and lost my younger son, Charles to substance use disorder and suicide on June 5, 2015. I help people foster a culture of connection to prevent suicide, reduce substance misuse and find life after loss. My motivational, training and workshop topics include suicide prevention, addiction, mental illness, coping strategies/resilience, and grief. As talented and funny as Charles was, letting other people know they matter was his greatest gift. And now the legacy I try and carry forward in my son's memory. Professional Speaker Website. Trained in ASIST and trainer for the evidence-based 4-hour training for everyone called safeTALK.

6 thoughts on “How could I not know?”

  1. Amen. As always, Jesus Anne… you always find new ways to reach a reader!

    I agree as parents, it is so very tempting to put your head in the sand, and say, yeah…but not my kid! Have you seen his new trophy (insert any other ridiculous thing we might say to our peers). Come on ladies, Anne has been begging us to share. Come off it #girlfriendcode. It takes a village these days. Accept it, seek help, and god forbid don’t upset the neighbors! (Inside joke)

    Another great one Anne….just awesome.

  2. Anne, thank you for your post. Even though Curt had two previous suicide attempts, my mind couldn’t fathom the thought that my gentle, sweet child would ever take his life. The night Curt was successful in ending his pain, I had no clue what was on his mind, when my Husband and I went to bed. February 9th, 2013, Curt came home from working as a bus boy in a fine dining restaurant. He was non- talkative as usual, but I sensed a distance, a leave me alone vibe, so I respected that, and for the first time ever didn’t kiss him good night. Steve and I had bought him a steak from a new restaurant we had tried. We were celebrating 15 Years of Steve starting his own business. We went upstairs to read in bed, we heard Curt open the fridge, nuke the steak, and hear the clang of cleaning up after he ate. When we went to bed, my husband always closes our door, he saw light under Curt’s bedroom door. How could we know it would be the last time we would see out son alive. I used to berate myself for not kissing Curt that night, for not sensing his plans. I’ve come to grips that, as well as I knew and loved my son, I’m not a mind reader. I can’t predict the future. I couldn’t stop Curt. I apologize to him everyday that I wasn’t able to help him.

    1. That’s it. You were not a mind reader, Jan. We can’t predict the future either. Because we are human and we have limitations.

      Are you ready to write something for Emotionally Naked? If so, let me know.

      We would love to know more about Curt and your journey. I have enjoyed getting to know him through you.

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