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?
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.