We Lost Our Son to Suicide. Here’s How We Survived.

I tried many of the supports available to help parents heal, like therapy, support groups, exercise and finding a way to honor our son’s memory.

Comments: 175

  1. As a retired mental health professional who has worked with clients dealing with the suicide of a loved one I can attest to the help which this article imparts. I hope other mh professionals will read and share it with clients for whom it is relevant. Thanks for publishing this!

  2. I admire you for the positive steps you have taken in the face of a horrible tragedy, and your openess about it. While I don't know anything about your son's circumstances, I suspect that whatever lead to his suicide was completely outside of your power to prevent, and not in any way due to a failure in parenting. As I am sure your know, blaming yourself is dysfunctional and unfair. I think self-blame is an unconcious attempt to assert control over the narrative -- i.e., "if had had done (not done) X, this wouldn't have happened -- which, in the logic of the unconscious, is very tempting.

  3. @seattle expat One of the most helpful things anyone ever said to me, when I was grieving the loss of a student--nothing like losing a child, I know, but still a very profound loss--was "Guilt is part of mourning. Accept it like you accept all the other feelings."

  4. Thank you for your honesty in sharing this. It's through pieces like this that we know we are not alone in the world. Sending you a virtual hug.

  5. God bless you and your husband. We lost our son in August 2017, though not to suicide, but to sudden death. We also were tormented by thoughts that we should have somehow prevented his death, especially as I am a physician. I think a key point was that you and your husband took this journey together. My husband and I have been able to find support in each other, which, sadly, is not always the case. Initially, we met every evening after work on the sofa to review the day, our emotions, review the many cards and notes we received, etc. Eventually, we set aside time every Saturday dedicated to sharing. This was vital as it was easy for us to think the other was "moving on," that we were in different phases of the journey-- which turned out never to be the case. Being there for other children is also important, albeit very hard to do when overwhelmed by one's own grief. Living outside your own grief, finding a way to serve others, has been key. My job is to be of service to others, especially as I serve a geriatric population, but focusing elsewhere is important. Peace to you and your family.

  6. @Karen thank you for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that finding support in your spouse is key. Fortunately, my husband and I have been able to ride this tide of sadness together. It's been a huge help.

  7. Thank you for this excellent piece. It takes courage to share your painful experience with the world. I have a daughter that has survived a number of suicide attempts and is fairly stable now. I remember the terror that gripped me when she was actively suicidal. I would add to your resource list - the National Alliance On Mental Illness runs family support groups around the country for people that have mentally ill family members or have lost loved ones to suicide - all the groups are free of charge. NAMI also advocates for the mentally ill at local, state and national levels. I have found this group to be very helpful as my family has gone through its journey.

  8. @gfreethoughts Yes, NAMI is an extremely helpful resource. There are so many incredible organizations out there helping suicide survivors. I appreciate you mentioning that organization.

  9. I lost my brother on September 7th 2016 to suicide. That day is also marked for my family. My parents have had extreme difficulty with the grief of his loss and have not been able to make strides to help themselves. It makes me happy to see that you and your husband have made such an effort to work with your grief and it helps me to see that it is possible for my parents as well. Thank you.

  10. The loss of a loved one to suicide is indeed traumatic and life changing. It's also a loss deeply felt by many people close to the deceased -- siblings, friends, aunts, uncles, cousins, coworkers, etc etc. As a person who lost a sibling to suicide, I'm frustrated by the narrative that parents are the only parties whose grief matters and angered by those who suggested that my job was to support my parents rather than to be supported in my own grief and loss.

  11. @anonymous that is what happened to me, I didn’t lose my older brother to suicide but to a motorcycle accident. He was 28 and left a wife and three young children. This was 1978 and I was 16 years old and was told by others to be strong for my parents and don’t cause them any trouble. All are affected by a loved one’s death, all need support, all need understanding, all need as much time it takes to make that first step to try to live life again.

  12. @anonymous There is surprisingly little in the way of resources for adult siblings who lose an adult sibling. First there's the intense shock, sadness and rage from your own loss. Then there's every extended family member and people you thought of as close friends whose first question is: "How are your poor parents" coupled with "This is a parent's worst nightmare." Or simply, "I feel so bad for your parents." They say this. To me. As I am standing. Right there. Usually these well-wishers are thinking of what it would be like were they to lose a child. It takes the very rare soul who sees that you yourself are suffering beyond belief, because in addition to your own grief, you're having to witness your parents' (and other siblings' if applicable) devastation. I hear you on being frustrated and angry. Tbh, I lost some faith in humanity and don't see it returning any time soon. It feels like an exceptionally lonely way to bear a loss. But you are not alone. Peace be with you.

  13. @anonymous I'm glad you brought this up. "There is nothing like losing a child" becomes a painful misunderstanding to a young person that there is a hierarchy in place and that one's own loss is somehow not as important or real. Kids don't have the inner resources to sort it out alone - the kind adult at that time who recognizes everyone's loss and who shows up would make a world of difference. Those people are indeed rare.

  14. Lost my parents to a murder-suicide. It’s a strange, scary, lifelong club we join. To this day, 30 years later, I still hear myself tell strangers who are not necessarily entitled to my innermost thoughts. “They’re deceased. Car accident.” And then I change the subject.

  15. @Linda Lou Lost my Mom and my Aunt (sisters), I was 8. I lie when asked too, always have. It's been over 40 years. I'll keep lying, it's just easier. I met someone recently who lost both parents, have you been able to connect with others who have lived through this loss?

  16. There are it many of us. No, I’ve have never met any with a similar loss. Thanks for reaching out.

  17. @Linda Lou The sister of my best friend was murdered by her husband and then he killed himself - on Valentine's Day - 1975. A deep grief and sadness always hovered around my best friend after that. Her mom died of a broken heart less than a year after that needless and senseless tragedy. Her dad died a year after that. So much pain and loss that still haunts my best friend, her older sister and younger brother. The sudden and permanent emptiness is never completely gone, it just comes in stronger waves of deep aches than others. She told me a long time ago that she felt the passing of a loved one never gets easier, only more familiar. Such deep and profound condolences to each and every one of the commenters and author who are grappling with the pain and loss of a loved one. Death by suicide compounds the pain and grief.

  18. Julie, I'm so sorry for your loss and want to thank you for sharing your story. As a parent of a teenager with an anxiety/panic disorder, I'm struck by how many teens struggle with mental health challenges. You only have to mention your child's situation to another parent, and you hear about other families in the same boat. And yet these kids feel so alone, and I think that feeling deepens their pain and despair. I've been thinking about the potential of peer to peer mentoring - someone my teen's age or a little older who has been through it and can offer friendship, support, and advice in those difficult times. Almost like having an AA sponsor. A therapist or a parent can tell a kid what kinds of activities will help reduce anxiety, but I'm certain it would be better received and maybe actually acted upon if the kid heard it from a peer. Does quality peer mentoring exist? I envision something that can operate online and via social media so that support is readily available to youth who live in a remote location or teens/young adults who are disinclined to attend a support group.

  19. @Andrea Peer support is extremely valuable and we will be incorporating that into our center when it opens. Before then, we are rolling out such a program in a temporary space this year. You could reach out to your local National Alliance on Mental Illness chapter, as they would be aware of these types of supports in your area.

  20. @Andrea Peer to peer is a really good idea. I agree with looking into NAMI. They have peer to peer classes and groups. Age group peer to peer would be the best for teens if possible. NAMI also has Family to Family classes and groups. My son suffers mostly from anxiety but was hit with major depressive disorder when his close friend and roommate took his life four years ago. No one hands you a book on how to deal with it. The NAMI family to family course I took a year ago and it was very helpful. I struggle with lack of support and understanding from friends and family. Lots of denial going on. I wish you luck.

  21. Yours is an important and valuable article. Much needed by survivors, people contemplating suicide, and those whose lives have not been touched by the tragedy of suicide. Thank you so much. May you be held in loving, sustaining community.

  22. On New Year's eve, my husband and I were getting ready to attend a party with friends. When I walked into my son's room, to say we are leaving, I felt something, a terror. I asked him if he was Ok. He said No, mom I'm not ok. I asked him what was wrong and he said he didn't know, but he felt like dying. I had never heard him say that. I froze, but began to talk to him, can't recall what I said. I told my husband we need to get to the ER. We did. At the hospital, I found out my son had attempted to get a gun from a relative's house, except he couldn't find it. He also had been thinking about buying a gun. We did find 3 separate blades his friends had given him in his backpack. We stayed in the hospital with him for 2 nights and 2 days and when we left the hospital we started therapy immediately, every day. I wasn't able to sleep for days, asking myself if he wasn't within my sight, was he going to be ok. I kept thinking how grateful I was for having a job with health coverage to get psychiatry and therapy appointments, a car to drive him to his appointments. My son is still not well, making progress slowly and every day is very difficult. I want to know what happened to him between the Summer of 2019 and Dec 31? I didn't notice any behavioural changes, I didn't. I ask myself, what if I hadn't gone to his room on that evening to personally say goodbye to him? I cried when I read the article. Peace to all readers.

  23. Thank you for your comment. You might not have any idea of how comforting your words are to somebody like me, who comes from a loveless family and twice attempted suicide. Parents’ loving support and engagement are so vital to all children but particularly to vulnerable children. Of course, sometimes mental illness is more powerful than parental support.But love and understanding are as essential as proper nutrition. They contribute to the child’s sense of wholeness and integrity. Too many of us go through adulthood with barren, damaged souls because of bad parenting. Suicide often feels like a way of ridding ourselves of this kind of affliction because it impedes our ability to navigate life.

  24. @Auntie social Sounds like you have managed to cultivate the love and understanding that was missing- that is doubly heroic.

  25. @Trying mother Probably what happened to him is he reached the age when major mental illness manifests - late adolescence to early adulthood. These comments are full of young, bright, loving and loved children whose lives changed forever at this stage.

  26. My beautiful 26 year old Son shot himself in the head last April. There isn't day that goes by that I don't think about him or wish I could have done something differently. In reality, only he knew how much pain he was in and he didn't share that, even with those closest to him. I found a great deal of support in Alliance of Hope. There are many people following our terrible path now. I recently saw a drawing that described the pain of this loss. Picture a box with containing a ball. There is a pain spot on one side. When this event first occurs the ball is big and it hits the spot frequently and causes debilitating pain. Over time the ball slowly shrinks and hits the pain spot less frequently. That image has help me to deal with the moment when the ball hits the spot. I know it won't be so utterly hurtful forever. Reading your article made the ball a bit bigger, but I am ok with remembering my Son even if it's painful right now. Your article contains great advice. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  27. @JREX Thank you for sharing your story. My partner's older son committed suicide last year, and we are approaching the 1-year anniversary. I greatly appreciate this article's (and your) advice re: what has helped you.

  28. Thank you for your powerful article, beautifully written. It can provide solace to so many who need it. I hope your family continues to stay strong together and may your son’s memory be a blessing.

  29. Thank you for this article. My son died by suicide as well and your article rings true to my experience through this never-ending journey. My support group has been invaluable to me, as has the love of family and friends. Suicide and mental illness needs to be talked about more without judgment or shame. I know my son was deeply ashamed of his hospitalization and believed he could not talk to his friends about his experience. The perception that a death by suicide is somehow not as tragic as a death by cancer or homicide because it was a “choice” or a moral weakness or lack of religious faith is still out there. The pain it causes to those suffering and survivors is incalculable. It is a public health issue plain and simple and needs to be treated as one.

  30. Lovely article and very accurate. I lost my son in a sporting accident 13 years ago and I grieve everyday. However, I live life too. Compassionate Friends is invaluable. It’s very important to me, to be able to offer comfort and attention to fellow parents.

  31. Many years ago, thirty six, to be exact, I was a young matron, married, two teenage children, cat, dog and a part time job. My children, 16 & 18, went of to school Friday morning, in my new car, a treat, as things had been going well. Around midnight, kids not home, anxiety set in. Someone called from other side of town, anonymously to say there was an accident on other side of town. I woke their father and he drove off and I sat by the phone. I remember seeing two sets of headlights coming up the hill, the relief was indescribable. My husband came in first, the trooper next, to tell me my son was dead, my daughter, uninjured, but at local hospital. Spent my time, supporting her and her father, no space for my grief. Much more to the story, but in finally writing this down, I realize why I’m the way I am, more than slightly psychotic.

  32. @Mother I am so sorry. The juxtaposition of your relief at seeing two sets of headlights, then realizing the second set was the police, has me reeling. I can only imagine the--"pain" is not an adequate word--that invaded your life that night. Knowing that people endure things like what you have described (and various horrendous versions that patients of mine have experienced) keeps me up at night. Life--for some more than others-- is so full of tragedy, torture and suffering, that only pleasure can make it bearable. I'm not surprised that people incapable of experiencing pleasure (so deeply depressed or traumatized) end their lives. I am more amazed by those who somehow resist. Please know I am thinking of you.

  33. It's never too late to get help and to grieve. My prayers are with you

  34. @Mother My heart goes out to you. Please know that it is never too late to make space for your own grief, and to get support. Please do this for yourself. Therapy, support groups, clergy, online forums – there are many places to start. I wish you peace. https://www.hellogrief.org/benefits-of-grief-support-groups/

  35. I lost my son to suicide 12 years ago. So I appreciate the article and replies. The article provides some excellent means of coping with such a loss. One reply also mentioned NAMI; another good resource. My heart goes out to all survivors of suicide and to all who have contemplated suicide.

  36. 'They can be tormented by thinking about what they could have done differently to prevent the suicide'. Perfectly understandable, but is focusing on themselves only an extension of the problem? And what I did right, what I did wrong, how can you really know. Perhaps the best and worst things you did were a mere manifestation of grace, or the lack of it at that moment. I see some wisdom in that notion of 'loving your neighbor as yourself'. That is a high bar, but a bearable yoke by some accounts. All this social justice warrioring takes a toll. Can you ever do enough? Are you harboring the thought that someone is going to return your goodness? Is this one of the few groups whose members sing a song that sounds good to you? Loving yourself is by no means easy, because you know you are so far from perfect. Start with forgiving yourself, then then forgive others; and live.

  37. I have been very very close to suicide twice and here is what I can tell you about the mind that sees death as salvation and the role others play. First, depression is when a person is incapable of feeling anything positive and is completely overwhelmed by magnified negative thoughts. I remember lying in bed searching for something, anything good. There was nothing. This despite my actual, very positive and successful life. On the brink I thought of ways to save myself. Bargains I would make. What would I sacrifice? My arms? Legs? Both? Absolutely. Imagine a needle stuck into your brain extracting every bit of the parts that can experience pleasure and replacing them with unimaginable psychic pain. There is no way out, except for one. The second part, what others can do? Nothing, absolutely nothing. No amount of reasoning or reassurance can save a lost soul. Parents are blameless and should be guilt free. Once the binary switch is in the depression mode, nothing, short of physical intervention, has any effect.

  38. This is true. As powerful as anything I have read . Wish there was some way I could save for rereading. Wish he could write more but maybe this is all there is.

  39. John Everyman’s comments resonate long after I close the paper,powerful sad and unforgettable.

  40. @john Everyman, my hope would be that, even in such weakness, the depressed person could connect with the pain of loss and torment their loved ones would feel and put themselves before the loved ones to ask for and maybe succumb to help, physically if it must be so, as you say. Bless you for forging on. We ALL are happy to have your clear soul with us.

  41. It seems uncouth to point out that most suicides victims are male. It's never mentioned in the articles or opinions, but it comes out clearly in the comments. If a woman has to pay more for a pink razor, that's news. If a man is more likely to die, that's ignored. Male privilege indeed.

  42. A balanced report would show that while more men die from suicide, women attempt suicide at vastly higher rates. But they are also more likely to get help, have a support system, and are less likely to die from their attempts. Men often have access to more lethal means. This is a terrible HUMAN problem, but since there are often gender fault lines in its expression, we need to take that into account in our response (and reporting). No one gender's pain is more important than another's. And maybe I missed it, but I didn't see a front page op ed about how women pay more for pink razors, although that also would demonstrate how thoroughly gender dynamics saturate every aspect of our lives.

  43. @Matt What? That it’s mostly men and white men at that who kill themselves and usually with a gun here in the good ol USA is a well-known, much discussed fact. My brother is one of them. This is a personal account of a mother who lost her son not a scholarly essay. And yeah, the men die, the women just have to live with it, that’s all.

  44. The reason more males die from suicide is that they’re more likely to use a gun. Women attempt suicide at a similar rate as men, they just use less lethal means. Suicide is not a men’s issue. Though maybe gun ownership is.

  45. I think there are just as many pitfalls as there are positives to group therapy for suicide survivors - just as there are with any other group organized around a particular problem. It can become an echo chamber and that is not necessarily a good thing, certainly not in the long term. I think it is important to recognize that help can come from all quarters and in many shapes. And it is often unbidden and mysterious. And people should be open to it. Additionally, it is foolish and not particularly helpful to think that only those who have lived through it can help you. Empathy doesn't just stop at suicide and there is no reason not to continue to rely on those empathetic ones who have supported you in the rest of your life until that point. From the standpoint of having had a brother commit suicide at 26, I can attest to the decline in quality of life for survivors. It took some time-and perhaps some pre-existing depression was a contributor- but eventually I did let an important license lapse, I did cease to have relationships and things did get very bleak for me, nearly 13 years after the suicide itself. 22 years on, I continue to grieve and battle my own demons. I miss him daily, hourly sometimes and suspect that the effects of grief will spell some real health issues in the not to distant future. I recommend that all survivors keep a diary and above all else, exercise, exercise and more exercise. I have found no greater cure for what ails me than an hour in the gym

  46. @DC I'm glad exercise works for you, but it feels like nothing but punishment to me. As someone who regularly fights a desire to die, the thought of "exercise, exercise, and more exercise" just makes me want to give up entirely.

  47. @M I hope you are getting help with those desires. Do not let them defeat you. Just approach it as you would any other medical condition and do the concrete things you would do to address them. But keep your appointments, don't miss your dosages. Pull out all stops to get yourself off the edge. Nothing matters as much as your health. The exercise thing: take it slow, just pick things you enjoy, work into a routine. Ignore the supremely confident athletes next to you. Turn those bad feelings into good.

  48. @M I have no expertise and do not wish to add to your pain in any way, so if this suggestion seems all wrong to you, please just ignore. But I might suggest you try not so much "exercise" as just "movement." In other words, perhaps walking, or gentle stretching, or even just getting outdoors, or dancing to a song on youtube? I'm not depressed in this way at all, so I realize my suggestion may not apply to you. But I am congenitally lazy, and incredibly physically uncoordinated … and I find that just getting up and moving can shake something loose, and once I'm up and about my mood does improve.

  49. Situations like this are so tragic they would make a stone weep. but all the more as they are preventable. Please note the age group identified as being prone to depression/suicide, the same group that develops Atypical Depression. Psychiatry seems to have been stricken by amnesia about this common form of depression in the adolescent/young adult and, most importantly, that it responds very quickly to only one thing - the MAOI Nardil. Reluctance to use the MAOIs is also based on completely overstated fears of dietary restrictions. I have had patients on Nardil for 40 years, since adolescence, and eating and drinking whatever they like with a few exceptions. Please, please psychiatry, consider Atypical depression in any young adult. It's far more common than you know.

  50. @Irene Campbell-Taylor so they never age out of Atypical Depression?

  51. Another concern with MAOIs is their potentially lethal interaction with other common drugs, particularly some anesthetics.

  52. I'm so sorry for your loss and for your son's loss. Suicide is a plague of pain that seems to strike families and sometimes generations within them. There are effective preventative measures but we never seem to deliver them in time or want to acknowledge them when someone suggests them because it is hard to conceive of the enormity of the loss until it happens and the cost of those measures can be enormous. The vast majority of suicides are committed by men so there is a very likely a hormonal link IMHO and it is never a rational decision, especially if you don't believe in an afterlife. I believe the key is to encourage the individual to move or change drastically and, in many cases, take stimulants and possibly testosterone blockers. It will probably take decades to heal from this loss, if you ever do, and after 2 and a half years you are still only at the beginning of that road. Take care and remember to live in the present because you can never really return to the past except in your dreams. Your son's pain is over but yours is here for a long time, so be kind to yourself. And, from one suicide survivor to another, don't do what your son did and further spread this loss and pain.

  53. @NowCHare I find it interesting that you're effectively blaming men for being men. Testosterone blockers are otherwise known as chemical castration. That was exactly what Alan Turing was forced into because he was gay. He took his life anyway two years later. There's a broader problem like Voldermort that cannot be named. Men are constantly criticized and belittled, their worth diminished, in today's society. At Ryerson University in Canada, a men's issues group wanted official recognition. Their membership was 50% female and had male suicide prevention as one of their goals. The Student Union refused to grant them official status because they didn't "recognize [male] privilege and patriarchy'. The group was permanently denied status. The American Psychological association more recently blamed men's mental illness on masculinity. It seems the cure for male suicide is for them to transition to women. Then they will get the support and sympathy needed.

  54. @nowhcare - Testosterone blockers? Sounds like dangerous advice.

  55. @NowCHare Men complete more suicides then women but that is because they use means that tend to be (for lack of a better word) more successful such as using a gun. I don't think there is much gender disparity in those who TRY.

  56. My son took his life last July 8th. He was an extremely talented musician and writer, and he had just come home from a 2-week tour of the USA with a band. We were not aware of just how much mental anguish he was in. We thought that his drug use brought on his depression, but in reality, he took drugs to help him through his depressive episodes. What I would like to say is that employers should be more aware of the problems of mental illness and to learn the proper ways to deal with it. My son's boss would constantly berate him and embarrass him in front of his colleagues. I was planning on taking my son on a trip to Scotland to ease his mind, but his boss would not grant him the time off. On his final day, my son posted on Facebook that his boss had made fun of him in a department-wide meeting. There is the recent case of France Telecom and the rash of worker suicides that were caused by harassment at the workplace. There are cases where companies try to force out workers by subjecting them to constant bullying. Companies need internal training for managers and workers alike in how to deal with a co-worker who might be suffering. As a final word, I just want to say that the monthly meetings hosted by my local chapter of the AFSP have been very helpful. I go to these meetings religiously, not so much to help myself, but to lend a hand to the new members who show up every month.

  57. Feeling a sense of blame or failure because a loved one could not be saved from taking his or her own life is like feeling a 100 lb. weight on one's shoulders. My brother still has not come to terms with the death of his daughter 9 years ago. Her first attempt at suicide was when she was just 10. My brother and his wife tried everything in the book to help her. She was 24 when she died. She hung herself. Having been on the other side of suicide, I was at a point where I was more depressed than I realized because I truly embraced the notion because I felt it brought me peace from the emotional torment I was struggling with. It was only by luck that I was found and saved. And at the time, I was very angry about it. But a professor/friend and his wife asked me to stay with them at their home when I got out of the hospital. I can't recall the number of hours we spent talking, listening, crying, all during which their cat never left my side. He never stopped purring nor left my lap. I eventually finished my degree and became a suicide counselor. This article by Julie Halpert brought me to tears because of their horrific tragedy, but also because together, they never gave up hope in trying to learn, cope and heal from Garrett's death. Their focus and attention never wavered from their daughters. I am extremely proud of their effort, strength and courage in combating their pain. Thank you for listing the various resources and the suicide prevention 800 number.

  58. @Marge Keller Thank you Marge for your honesty and encouragement for dealing with this god awful pain. It’s been three years this month since I tried to attempt suicide. I am still here but continue to struggle. I have the suicide prevention number in my list of contacts, I keep a journal on my nightstand to write down my thoughts, doing my best to take care of myself. Every morning when I wake up I say to myself, “today is going to be a new day” yet I know I am not there yet. This is a disease that you simply can’t snap out of it or be reasonable and no I am not a victim of feeling sorry for myself. This is a disease that robs you of your mind, your mind turns against you and you struggle so hard to get it back. Please this comment section is here to communicate our thoughts, feelings and most of all to support and help those to find their way back. Everyone’s journey is different but what is shared is that god awful pain.

  59. @Martha White Hi Martha. Wow! You wrote such a powerful post. I wish I could hug you right now and be a supportive and encouraging part of your life. So many days ARE a struggle to the point of wondering if the ability and inner strength is there to hold on for just one more day. There was a song written and performed by the group, Wilson Philips called "Hold On". I listen to it on occasion when that deep darkness begins to loom in the distance. I also hold on to my cats very tightly because they have been my life preserver on so many levels. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts. I sincerely hope and wish you will be surrounded by more positive and happy moments/days than not. Take care of yourself. You are in my thoughts and in my heart.

  60. @Marge Keller Thank you. What helps is that here in the comment section on such important topics like this one, is that we may not know each other personally however we are their for each other. Thank you again.

  61. Why this epidemic of depression and suicide? Our world has become so unnatural and overwhelming. It’s not any one person’s fault, but depressed people are like canaries in the coal mine. Can we work together to create a world that is more suited to our human nature? We need rest and vegetables. We need sunshine and laughter. We need strong community connections, whether this means extended family or church or band or a hiking club. We need mental health care access (nearly nonexistent in my state). We need to feel like the future is going to be okay. A lot of what is wrong is happening at a societal level and it has to be fixed—with awareness and kindness—at a societal level.

  62. @BamaGirl Absolutely spot on! When I read about the increasing rates of suicide in our youth, I believe the main cause is too much pressure on everyone. Way too much pressure on us all.

  63. @BamaGirl I couldn't have said it better. That will be the focus for Garrett's Space, which we envision to be a haven and a place where young adults can connect and be comforted with all the things you mention. The world is a harsh place and it can be unbearable for sensitive souls. We are hoping to teach them how to be resilient and find happiness and connect them with others so they won't feel alone in their struggles as our son did. And we hope to make this a model that can be replicated nationwide. Feel free to check out our website: https://www.garrettsspace.org/

  64. We also need to give kids time to be kids. And kids need time to be bored. Boredom inspires imagination, because brains don't like being bored, especially young brains. And imagination fuels perspective, and the ability to see beyond immediate circumstance. Sometimes I think modern children are so consumed (perhaps literally) with performance and resume-building that they hardly have the chance to simply let their minds wander. At best, that stunts growth, and at worst, it can pave the way to psychosis.

  65. Your story stops me in my tracks. Thank you for sharing it. Ten years ago my 23 year-old son was profoundly depressed, in therapy, on meds, and undergoing ECT. While none of these therapies resulted in the breakthrough progress we longed to see, during the following summer he appeared to be a little better. We remained hopeful but suddenly, in late August, he was gone. My journey grieving his loss has been long and uneven. After a year of excruciating anger and guilt, I attempted to refocus this energy in other areas, at first, hobbies -- gardening (a time to cry) and guitar (a way to scream) – and later, a new job (a place to hide). These seemed to work well enough for a while – and I am very fortunate to have been sustained throughout by the loving support of family, friends, my employer, a great therapist, and two faith communities – but none provided the panacea I sought. I have only recently begun to realize how far I’ve managed to run from the awful reality of his suicide and how much healing remains to be done. Dealing with grief while persisting with life requires exquisite balance. Be well.

  66. @John I found after my brother's suicide that I had to accept it. I tried as hard as I could to help him, but in the end I was left with only dealing with my grief. Nothing else to do. Accepting that he is gone, and by his own hand, was key for me. He did what he needed to do. Fighting it emotionally - holding on to the profound grief, being devastated every day all over again - was like hoping I could reverse it, somehow change things back to "before," wishing hard that the next phone call was indeed going to be from him. That didn't work for me, and it kept me a mess. Accepting that he is gone has enabled me to love him, miss him, wish he had made a different decision - but also get on with my own life. I cannot spend the rest of my life wishing he were here, I need to move forward.

  67. From the other side of the tracks, so to speak, and in hope this provides you some small thing that may help: 20 years into bipolar II, I have also been running away for a long time, and now am stumbling in the direction of changing that. (Despite much progress, I'm realizing that at a fundamental level, I have not fully accepted I am ill, and what I must do for myself to still thrive.) I hope this post doesn't provoke anger or further guilt simply because I am alive and your son is most horribly not. Instead, I hope it lets you know that, first, hiding from the unfathomable is only human, and not something to feel guilt for, if that guilt is plaguing you. And second, as another poster has essentially said: when it comes to the level of despair that deep depression foments, the only person who can save you is yourself. (An EMT is only a stopgap.) I am adamantly NOT blaming your son. I am saying you could have been the most perfect parent ever... and the same thing might have happened. To be fair, I am not a parent, and won't pretend to know what it is to lose your own child. But I can tell you whose fault this is: mental illness. That deep into the maelstrom, perspective is a thing of fancy. The closest I have come to suicide, I drove myself to my therapist's in a haze. It's a miracle I didn't hurt anyone. Had I possessed an ounce of sense, I would have called an ambulance. As it was, I suspect it was 19 years of therapy that got me in the car. I wish you the best.

  68. @John "gardening (a time to cry) and guitar (a way to scream) – and later, a new job (a place to hide)" Nice piece of prose.

  69. Your experience echos mine. The circumstances were different. When meth was new my most wonderful daughter who gave so much and also struggled with bi polar disorder got into meth. Probably to mimic the highs and feel her longed for ‘normal’. It only took three months and her cycle of depression coincided with the meth depression. She hung herself in despair. Never meaning to die she left a husband and two adored children. We then became a family and I became a Grammie/Momma living my daughters life without her In it. Now 25 years down the path of life as I look back at where did my strength come from as I lived our suffering and slow healing... it was through service to my family, to others who were struggling with similar situations as drugs have blanketed our culture. Service, faith and friends.

  70. I lost a brother to suicide in 2006; I think of him a lot and think of how sad his decision was. His major problem was alcoholism, an insidious disease characterized by what AA calls "stinking thinking," and by the subsequent bad decisions. He was not able to see that there was a brighter tomorrow, that bad situations don't last forever, that things will be okay again. He chose the permanent solution for his temporary problem. It is so important for teens, alcoholics and everyone else to understand that life is not about today's distress, but that life is fluid. My profound sadness is that I could not get my brother to see that point.

  71. It is now ten years from my brother’s death from suicide. My brother’s death changed me fundamentally and is still changing me. It is a difficult experience to describe, and one to understand, unless you have experienced it yourself. I am a big believer in therapy myself, after suicide. It was very helpful. Unfortunately, therapy is not readily available in all locations in this country, the price of therapy can be a barrier for people, and some people still feel there is a stigma in seeking therapy. That is where Alliance of Hope comes in. This online community for survivors of a loved ones suicide, is critical for many people, and certainly for people in rural locations. It connects people who have experienced a death like no other, and people talk about every aspect of suicide, such as the secondary wounding we are subjected to, because of other people’s lack of knowledge. Although, I no longer participate in the site, I still contribute financially each year, because I realize what an important service they are providing.

  72. @ecamp Agree 100%, Alliance of Hope is a life-saving and life-changing organization for those of us left behind by suicide. Their online forums are the closest a typical survivor will ever get to sharing their grief and their hopeful growth towards integrating this unique loss. 24/7 all over the world. In the beginning I remember being on the forum, hitting "refresh" over and over just to find any thread or person who could soothe my jangled nerves and try to breathe. The grief is so physically overwhelming too.

  73. My daughter was bi polar and no matter what we did we lived in terrible anxiety of those voices she would hear. Drs, exercise medications, therapist, friends who were very close and involved with her. When the voices took over we couldn't break their spell. When she finally committed a successful suicide our lives were shattered. We have never. been the same. My heart breaks with this story because there isn't a parent who doesnt spend every day thinking about what they could have done to stop this runaway train We attended support groups but you still have to come home alone and deal with the lost.

  74. I was struck by the essay's reliance on experts. He said, she said, research shows. Highly sensitive children grow up to be the world's teachers, but first, they are their parents' teachers.

  75. @dga NyT would never publish without experts

  76. We will pick up our sons ashes today. Last Friday we celebrated our Catholic faith in a requiem mass and on Sunday I drove 600 miles to a college town clean his apartment where he apparently took his life. If there were warnings, we missed them as did all of his close friends. Thank you for sharing your story as we struggle and fight surrendering to our grief.

  77. @A Father I'm so sorry for your loss. Hollow words when taken in the context of what happened to your family and you, but know there are many of us out there keeping your family and you in our thoughts.

  78. @A Father Oh my. I did this exact thing last April. I am so very sorry for your loss. Please accept my deepest sympathies.

  79. @A Father I grieve for you. My family was in your shoes at this time 3 years ago when my brother departed by his own hand. The hurt is still deep, but must less sharp. More bearable day to day. Prayers for you and your family. It takes time, faith and love to accept the unacceptable.

  80. To those of us who have lost loved ones to suicide, I am so sorry for your loss and the loss of life that death steals from the deceased, as well as the price grief exacts from you. To parents who endure burying children, as witness to my parents having done the same, I believe there is no loss that compares. This life is a mystery, a learning experience & I’m grateful to be in awe of life. I hope time, grief counseling, memories, love and compassion help you to continue to live and love.

  81. “There also may be a stigma attached” There *is* a stigma attached. With suicide, the cause of death is generally unspoken because its too painful to say or think about for anyone, including the survivor. If it’s too painful to think about, best not to interact with the survivor, knowing their ever-present pain and burden. The isolation is unreal—and real.

  82. I urge everyone who is grieving the death of a loved one to seek out a grief support group. I recently lost my husband of 21 years--not to suicide, but to cancer. The pain and loss are excruciating, and I, too, feel massively guilty--about things I said or did, or didn't say or do, or about my failure to encourage him to seek out second opinions about his treatment, etc. etc. (I can only imagine the additional guilt that comes when the death is a suicide, and I am so sorry for the loss of the writer and all of the commenters sharing similar experiences.) The grief feels unbearable sometimes, but the grief group I attend helps me enormously. Everyone in the group lost a spouse around the same time my husband died, so we are all in exactly the same boat. Other people around me try to help, but only the people in the grief group truly get it. It has been a lifesaver for me.

  83. AFTER THE END Parents should never outlive their children. Of course we often do. Thank you Ms Halpert for having the courage to write about this heart breaking story. As long as there are parents some child will as you say, "slip through the cracks". As a parent of a 50 year old son, I am proud of his resilience, and optimism. I am about to turn 71. As a former child with fairly constant thoughts of ending it, of course I am glad I didn't get off the train, so to speak. The reason I had for contemplating ending my life all those decades was because tho I tried to tell my story {of poverty, growing up with a violent alcoholic father, a morbidly depressed mother, and futile efforts to be happily married and provide a decent wage for my family} truly none of the therapists I was sent to had the ability to simply listen with heart, and perhaps soul. We must not be murdered by our own sorrow. Here is my struggle about this; does a 23 year old have 100% responsibility for his actions, or is this someones injured child? What I can take in my limitations concerning a deep understanding of this story? I feel Garret thru his severity to himself increased a bond of love. After all what is left after the darkest storm in a parent's lonely rage and despair has done its worst? I say it must be love and forgiveness.

  84. Depression can be more painful than the worst physical injury. It is relentless, dark and all consuming. There is a terrible feeling of not belonging, that life is meant for others not for you. The idea that treatment is available feels like a stigma, that you are defective, and must take drugs so that you can be someone you aren't but that it makes everyone else feel better that you are now one of them. You end up resenting people who love you because you don't want to hurt them when you exit. When I read these stories I of course feel badly for the parents left behind but more than anything I identify with the person who decided to exit life as I know exactly what was going on in his/her head and feel deeply for them. It is unimaginable to most people. I left behind my struggles with depression in my youth but the memories of it are still quite clear 50 years later.

  85. As a someone who has had severe clinical depression (genetic) compounded by PTSD, I’ve got enough experience with mental anguish to tell you that you’re fundamentally incorrect. Physical pain is far worse than any emotional pain. The difference is that the later lasts longer for most people. I would rather go through a severe depressive episode with all the guilt, shame, and anhedonia than ever have Peritonsillar abscesses again.

  86. @Scott Werden I know that I resented people who loved me for the same reason. Sometimes I even resent my beloved pups in the same way.

  87. Suicide ideation and attempts run in my family, including me. When my daughter tried to suicide 3 years ago, my heart burst for her pain. She was in treatment for MDD and GAD, including an intensive home-based therapy program, taking medication, and we thought we had locked away all the sharps and meds in two safes. As I watched her angry face in the pediatric ER, it took my breath away that this beautiful girl, this smart, kind, creative, curious girl, would want to die. It took months of intensive therapy and changes to her medication, but eventually she stabilized. Even today, 3 years later, I panic when I cannot reach her. I imagine that will stop only when I pass. Garrett's Place sounds amazing. I hope it becomes a reality and the model for other healing places for young adults, who are suffering in ways we parents and grandparents did not. Thank you, Julie, for talking about what still too many consider taboo.

  88. Thank you for creating Garrett’s space. It will prove a valuable resource for both parents and children. And prevent many more suicides. Sometimes people with depression go online to find a reason why they shouldnt go through with it and how it could get better. This will help and save lives. Thank you.

  89. Thanks for this. I'm so sorry for your loss. I lost my brother to suicide when he was 23. I was 17 years old at the time. At around the same time, I was also struggling to come out of the closet and navigate the college admissions process. My parents tried their best to support me in my grief but were understandably dealing with their own. They and I really would've benefitted from the resources you mention here. I'm also happy to hear you found social workers helpful. I ended up doing a master's in social work, partly because of my experience losing my brother. I'm not sure if Garrett had siblings, but losing my brother was a deeply painful, isolating experience and it took me years to realize how deeply it affected me and my family. Thanks again for this piece.

  90. @Alex S. I lost my brother to suicide in June 2018. It has been the worst 1.5 of my life. Thanks for sharing your story, it gives me hope that life will go forward with more light than I have today.

  91. @Alex S. I'm just seeing this and I am so pleased that you have pursued social work. Having been through this struggle, you will surely have the empathy to help others. I have two daughters and they've incredible. They're trying to walk this path and heal as best as they can.

  92. I lost my father to suicide at age 16 in 1966. Though it didn’t have a name then I suffered PTSD that kind of morphed into clinical depression that took about a decade out of my life. Over the years I’ve learned how common it is as I’ve lost a number of students and colleagues to suicide. In my experience, people don’t show their distress. The just disappear. The grief and the shame survivors feel linger. I was recently talking with a group of people when talk of a friend’s death by suicide came up. I meant to mention that I was a survivor and surprised myself by weeping and covering my face with the residual shame of it. I was fine I a minute but I realized I know and have seen could never erase that feeling.

  93. The Jon Huntsman Family has decided to fund a dedicated Mental Health Institute at the University of Utah. Although it's only now starting, if you were to look at the page for the institute, you would find interest in suicide and other factors— like high altitudes and suicidality. As one who sees the issue from both sides of the wall, I am hoping that by looking at factors like nutrition, inflammation, social structuring, sleep, medication side effects, undertreatment of medical conditions and the like, we can come to a genuine and lasting understanding of this problem. Stealing from Tolstoy, unhappiness has a different face and genesis for every person but I would argue that elements of treatment are more likely to be the same. It feels as if major private and public institutions are deaf to research and understanding. We can do better

  94. If someone is truly determined to end his or her life, I don’t think anyone can change that decision. It will probably happen eventually, if that is what the person wants. That is not to say that you shouldn’t do everything within your ability to reach out to and heap love upon a suicidal friend or family member. Of course you should do everything you can for them. But know that the decision ultimately sits outside your control. So there is no reason to feel guilt, or to blame yourself. Just mourn the loss and heal. I worry that a kind of romanticism has arisen around the notion of youth suicide. Social media stokes it.

  95. I lost my older brother to suicide in 1984. He left three young sons. I have tried to understand the line crossed by one so in despair that death is the choice for every year since. I have failed to achieve that understanding and feel sad that I can’t leave the anger completely behind me. However I have come to understand that suicide touches many more families than we realize and do not ever try to hide this fact of my life in talking to people. I am not ashamed that he killed himself, just sad that I have a hard time wishing him peace. I am still working on that one.

  96. @Darla In order to commit suicide a person is in such a deep state of depression/pain that they have to overcome overcome the strongest, innate will to survive that we're all born with. They really believe that they are a burden to their loved ones and that their families would be better off without them. They are not being selfish, rather, they are in so much pain that they can no longer bear it. They see the pain that their depression inflicts on the people they love and fall deeper into self recrimination/depression. Their pain is real and to anyone that hasn't experienced it, incomprehensible. I'm very sorry for you and your family's loss and hope that at some point you will be able to wish him peace and find some little bit of peace for yourself. Your anger is natural and it's understandable. I'm not saying that the pain ever goes away, it doesn't, but forgiveness smooths the path just a little bit for the ones left behind. I know this because I lost my daughter 10 years ago. I lost her the first time to mental illness when she was a teenager and then I lost her again to suicide. I don't think that there's ever been one day that I haven't thought of her. Thank you for sharing your story.

  97. So very sorry for your loss. At a memorial service after my dear nephew's suicide, I was approached by a man I'd never met, the father of one of my nephew's friends. He shared his experience grieving a close relative's suicide and how he wrestled with anger, blame and responsibility before he finally accepted that his relative had died from a disease: depression. Embracing that my nephew died from depression has not eased the loss, but on most days it spares me feelings of guilt and anger. Some day I hope it will offer my sister that small relief as well.

  98. Two years ago this weekend we traveled to Montana for a funeral: Our lovely and amazing 17 yo niece committed suicide in January 2018. Unbeknownst to most of the family she had been suffering from major depression and had been in and out of hospitals for very short term treatments. She was on a mission to end her pain, scrounging around the house to find an antique firearm and the ammo that would work. She test fired into the wall, then shot herself in the head. However she did NOT die instantly. Her parents made the wrenching decision to keep their brain dead daughter on life support for five long days, until recipients for her organs could be found. She gave the gift of her life so others could live. Her heart, both lungs, both kidneys, her liver, her corneas, as well as ligaments and tissues all found new bodies to serve. The surgeon who did the heart transplant (into a 13yo girl) described it as “the perfect heart”. I know that her parents find much solace in knowing their daughter’s death was not the end of life. However I can tell you that the anger of those left behind is palpable. The helplessness and fury of such a life cut short is breathtaking at times. And I do not ever want to attend another memorial service in the depths of a bleak Montana winter where I am surrounded by 16-18 year old teens mired in grief. It was a stunning awakening for the family, and a horrible loss for all who knew and loved her.

  99. Professional help, peer support, routines such as exercise that keep depression at bay and becoming involved in service to others - all of these are so important. You've written an excellent and honest piece that will hopefully help many. You have lit lamps on the path for others. That is no small thing.

  100. Depression runs in my family and my father's suicide attempt was foiled by the unexpected return of my brother who was supposed to be gone all day but had left his wallet at home. Depression came for me in my 40s. A move, a shaming, downward job change, and extreme social isolation created a toxic brew. Many people wonder why they didn't see that someone was suicidal. For me, it was a closely guarded secret like Gollum and his precious ring. It was my special secret about my life. It was no one's business. This is why people don't always see signs - the depressed person doesn't want them seen. Eventually the thought of taking my own life became as natural as breathing. But on one airless and lonely day it became next on the to do list and I had the presence of mind to drag myself to a nearby church and a noon service. No one knows about this, either.

  101. @Pandora - It is good to read about your impetus to go to that service. A victory. Thank you for sharing your secrets. It matters.

  102. I hate to say this because it seems grossly insensitive, but I think this is something parents everywhere need to hear. I, as a young man, have been close to suicide many, many times (fortunately not for the past several years). If I had killed myself my parents would have told themselves and everyone else how loving and supportive they were. There’s nothing they could have done! Well, they would have been wrong. One of the classic problems with abusive parents is that very few actually realise or accept that they are or were abusive. Parents, given their outsized role in the life of their children, must almost always be part of the reason why someone kills themselves. Think about that. Be aware of it. Try to be kinder. Of course, it doesn’t help that society has become increasingly hostile towards young males. That doesn’t make things any easier. Blaming the worst abuses of Weinstein and others on poor, struggling young men is sick, yet it happens. Combine that with dimming professional prospects and what do you expect? This is capitalism and misandry reaching their logical conclusion.

  103. KW - I agree with your main points, which may be unpalatable to many. However, feelings are not islands unto themselves. There are so many biological, familial and social variables that make us all feel what we feel. We are more like sponges that soak up whatever mess we are placed into. That may include the abuse of parents, selfish siblings, racists communities or plain old terrible spouses. Or a demeaning boss! Having spent two decades searching for help, answers, change, meaning, joy...anything to make life worth living — my experience suggests it is wildly difficult and expensive to attain life-changing help. To gain accurate insight into why one feels they way he or she feels. I have found that the expression of depression and suicide often leads to more isolation instead of more support. “Loved ones” may imply that depression and suicidal thoughts are just another one of your many failings. Before seriously contemplating suicide, make sure you weren’t raised by abusive jerks. Make sure your not currently married to one. Get a good therapist. Get some good friends. Then think of the most fun, delightful and happiest scenario within your control — then make that your reality.

  104. @MP Hear here!

  105. @MP Get a dog, too...

  106. I am so sorry and I hope you find peace.

  107. As someone who knows this pain intimately, my thoughts are with you and your family. A woman I knew briefly and was trying to help through the difficult transition of coming out, hung herself in her closet with her belt. I was the last person to see her alive and therefore the police wanted to find out if I knew why she'd committed suicide. The answer was more painful than I could believe. She couldn't face life as a gay woman. Her religious family wouldn't accept her and she saw no other option. I was stunned by her final act of leaving. No one knew she was feeling this way. She told no one. She merely took her own life. She was 19 years old. When I think of her, I can see her as she was the night she committed suicide: beautiful, with a freckled face and a bright future. Not a day goes by that I don't wish she'd had the courage to talk about her fears and what she was going through. Those who commit suicide don't think about the wreckage they leave behind. They're just glad to be leaving. This is what we must change. Suicide is not the answer to anything.

  108. @Pamela L. Thank you for your comments. The statistics for LGBTQ suicide are heartbreaking, much higher than their percentage of the population.

  109. This comment will likely get snubbed again, but suicides aren't glad about anything. Please read my comment above about what it actually feels like.

  110. @dark brown ink Is this changing though? I'm so much hoping that with more acceptance of LGBTQ rights, more people out, the legalizing of same sex marriage (something I never thought I'd see in my lifetime), are the statistics in the gay community for suicide going down? Oh, I hope so. I grew up in the 50's and 60's and they seemed such ugly times; I've been so hopeful that things have changed. (as much as Trump would like to turn back all the good and progressive change these last few decades have brought--or have been hard won)

  111. Your story is heart wrenching. No matter what people say we will always blame ourselves for not being able to reach a person who commits suicide. Your writing will help thousands of people who are suffering after the suicide of a loved one. Thank you so much for sharing your present suffering. With love and wishes for peace.

  112. To say it yet again, as someone with bipolar II for twenty years: it is not your fault. At all. My best to you and yours.

  113. My daughters lost their father to suicide when they were 16 and 21. Over these 10 years, they have struggled when starting college or a job on how to answer "What about your Dad?" Responding "He died", leads to more questions... I can say that time helps, but it never leaves us. To anyone reading this who is contemplating suicide, please call 911. There is help.

  114. In 2013 my best friend committed suicide. He suffered CPS Chronic Pain Syndrome, better known as the suicide syndrome. He would call me and say “I swallowed all my pain killers.” I would tell him to throw up. But I knew one day he wouldn’t call. And that day was March 20 2013. Now I know this is light years from losing your child to suicide, but there is one similarity. I tell people that when it comes to suicide, you have to forgive yourself for doing nothing wrong. Some suicide attempts are calls for help and you will get that call. I think suicide is often a snap decision. And I think once the decision is made, it’s made. My friend wrote a note, took his pills, laid down & died. I still think of him every day. It took me a long time to realize that my friend wanted the pain to end and didn’t see a reason to go on. And that he had no intention of letting me talk him out of it one more time.

  115. @Rod A @Rod A Rod, my best friend died of suicide three years ago at Christmastime. He was released from a hospital, went home and that was that. It haunts me that he would have driven past my house on his way, but did not stop. In my mind's eye, I see him instead turning into my driveway and ringing the doorbell, asking for help. Perhaps he believed he had already asked too often. If so, he was wrong. I never felt that way about him. The loss is deep, dark and forever. Julie Halpert, I am so very sorry for your great loss and admire your efforts to help other young people.

  116. @Rod A Guys, really? I have serious chronic pain. It's NOT. About. You. Really, how colossally outrageous to think this is about you. Your pal's suicide was NOT. ABOUT. YOU. Whether you were there or not there, or whatever. It's about the pain. The pain doesn't stop. It never stops. You can't sleep because of pain. You can't move because of pain. They tell you to exercise, but you can't, because of pain. You can't think because of pain. You can't EVEN-- because of pain. Now, doctors are so afraid of the Feds, they can't prescribe Opioids, which is the only thing that actually WORKS for pain. Then you get these bovine manure "studies" that say "well, you know, really they don't." When 100 years of medical sciences says opioids are the only thing that *does.* I personally have had one friend from our chronic pain support community commit suicide based on 1) being in too much pain and 2) not being able to get proper medication to combat that pain because 3) other people unrelated to her were abusing opioids but 4) she wasn't. She was an awesome, brilliant, bright, beautiful, wonderful person. She's dead now. I couldn't save her. YOU couldn't save her. An appropriate prescription from her doctor COULD have saved her. Question: What would it have mattered if she was Dependent on opioids if she wasn't selling them on the street? Answer: it would not have mattered at all, except a wonderful, beautiful, awesome person would be alive today. At least she is not in pain.

  117. I’m so grateful to live in Canada where even though I need a transplant and have been ill all my life, I know I will never go broke being treated and I have access to MAID (medically assisted death).

  118. My wife and I lost our 26-year old son to suicide in 2009. I am still unable to understand how we were unable to remedy a situation in which he turned away from the love of his family and chose to live with a young woman that was unfaithful to him and looked for opportunities to encourage his self-destructive tendencies. She finally left with the man who had fathered her two children while still living with our son, who in turn, drove himself hundres of miles from Texas to California without stopping, gave her everything he owned: car, money, etc., told her what he was going to do, and went and threw himself in front of a car at the nearby expressway. She did not move a finger to help. Very little is said about the psychopaths that take advantage of our children.

  119. @Mario Martinez My heart goes out to you for the loss of your son. What a terrible thing. Psychological and emotional abuse is just as bad as when someone hits you. It's not well understood. Men can be the target of domestic abuse, just as much as women.

  120. Both of my children were suicidal. My daughter called me when she was at college in Portland, Oregon crying hysterically that she wanted to die. I told her she wasn’t allowed to kill herself. Who did I think I was?I still am amazed that I was able to remain calm enough to call her RHD who acted swiftly and got her to the hospital. I flew there the next day. She was immediately admitted to a facility. Luckily, she got the help she needed, but every day I’m grateful she wasn’t successful. I tell her often I’m so glad she chose to stay. I’m grateful for the RHD. He saved my daughter. Last year, my son entered a deep depression. His heart had been broken by his first real love. He told me he wanted to die. Again, I had to say, “you’re not allowed to kill yourself.” I drove him to the hospital and he was admitted. I wonder every day, how could both my children want to leave this world? I thought I was a good mother. I thought they were raised well. I love them so much it makes my heart hurt. But, the world is a difficult place for young people today. I just hope that they know that they matter. I hope they know that the world wouldn’t be better without them. I’m so sorry for your loss. Your son’s pain must have been unendurable for him. I admire your strength

  121. @Karen - It is obvious to me that you are a great mom. Both of your kids knew something was wrong so they called mom because they knew she could fix anything. And mom made a phone call or two and did. I would never have called my mother in such a situation. She just would have made things worse.

  122. I think suicide is difficult for a person to comprehend if they never experienced the kind and depth of depression, despair, isolation and hopelessness felt by so many who have died by their own hand or who survived their suicide attempt. It's almost like trying to cognitively understand an emotional puzzle without the help of any clues, signs or hints. My husband is simply perplexed and mystified as to how or why anyone would take their own life. To this day, he is clueless about my past. He NEVER reads the NYT much less the comments. A sincere thanks to Ms. Halpert and to the many, many commenters who shared heartbreaking stories about your own personal loss. I wish you much love and tenderness and hope some sense of peace will find its way into your heart and life.

  123. @Marge Keller Marge, I regularly read the NYT and appreciate your comments. When I see you have posted, I make a point of considering your perspective. I've often wished there were a tool to search for all the comments someone has posted. Reading what someone has said about a variety of things lets me feel like I am getting to know them. Thank you for taking the time and effort to comment, here and on other articles. I am listening.

  124. @ARNP Thanks for your considerate words. It does my heart good reading them. And I feel the same way about wishing there was as search tool of sorts in which one could pull up the comments of a specific individual. Take care and thanks again for sharing your thoughts and for your kindness.

  125. Boys commit suicide at a rate four times higher than girls. While it may be difficult to fully comprehend the factors that contribute to this epidemic, one thing is certain: boys are inculcated into a culture that expects them to be tough and stoic, and avoid appearing sensitive. Overtly or subtly, they are encouraged to not express their feelings beginning at a young age, and that continual stuffing translates into the lack of a vocabulary to share themselves when they feel distressed. And, unfortunately, we have a president at the moment who is an expert at stuffing his feelings and instead prefers strutting his egomaniacal false-self on camera to emphasize his toughness. He and all the men in his family proudly wear a detached scowl on their faces. Trump, like many men of his generation, hides from himself and his duplicity is an awful role model for our children -- especially boys. The message from Trump is it's all about the bluster and swagger, and not about experiencing and expressing feelings. Like many men, Trump's emotional intelligence is poor. As parents and caregivers to boys, we need to learn how to listen to them without judging. It's not easy to shut our mouths and just let a boy speak without filtering, but many boys feel bottled up, and they need an outlet to admit their insecurities and fears. They are desperate to be heard and to connect on an social/emotional level with others. If you have a boy, go home tonight and just listen without judgement.

  126. @Bill I recently read in this newspaper that girls attempt suicide more often than boys. However, boys complete the act more often. I would amend your statement "As parents and caregivers to young people, we need to learn how to listen to them without judging."

  127. I am so sorry for your loss, and for the loss of any parent that has had to sustain such a devastating blow. Peace be with you all.

  128. I feel the closest one can come to comprehending suicide and prevention would be to listen closely to those who tried to kill themselves and for whatever reason failed to do so. These people hold the key. Many of us can be as depressed, anxious, feel as hopeless and filled with self-loathing as those to feel the pull to suicide, and yet for some inexplicable reason do not feel this pull, so not see death as desirable. There must be a concerted effort to analyze those who are or were suicidal.

  129. I've read that the suicidal person is in a position akin to one in a burning building, twenty floors up, being pressed by flame toward a broken window. And like those caught in the Twin Towers, they choose to jump, because the only other option is to be roasted alive. While this is not the metaphor I would choose regarding my own periodic suicidal thoughts, it is not an inapt comparison. People often ask why the person didn't call for help. But that implies that the person retains the concept, much less the belief, that anyone or anything can help. Depression murders perspective before it murders you. It is how it achieves your death at all. It reduces your world to fire, or falling.

  130. And the catalyst never seems to be one big event. It’s more often an accumulation of little defeats and slights. Life is hard but can be joyful.

  131. @Janie Thank you very much for this. Being one of those for whom suicide was (I can thankfully use the past tense, for now, at least) a gift I promised myself, I can assure others that at least some of us have no desire to die/jump out the window. But like that hypothetical figure you describe above, life is torment for us, and we jump because jumping is preferable to the agony of existing. Objectively, I have a fantastic life--a loving and loved partner, health, affluence--but those factors are utterly irrelevant. When the disease is controlling my brain, the flames push me to the window. No friend, no family member, nothing else is relevant. Another author referred to the "terrible logic" of depression, by which he meant that the depressive is utterly convinced that there is no help. And it's true, for some at least. Until there is a treatment for the condition in the brain that causes the torture of those flames, there will always be those of us for whom jumping is the only escape.

  132. Suicide in a family sends out ripples. Hurtful ripples. 2 family suicides in my husband's family almost took my husband under too. It doesn't end with the initial act; it affects the families for a long time after esp when there is no real reason that you know (terminal illness, dementia, depression, etc.) Suicide rates are climbing astronomically in our country yet mental health services get scarcer.

  133. I’m so sorry for your loss and how your life as you knew it will never be the same. Only those who have been through this unthinkable tragedy understand, and I’m one of them. My son suffered from schizophrenia for 15 years with daily auditory and visual hallucinations. No meds nor the best hospitals could help. He told me often about ending his life... I was his cheerleader... hold on.. new research is being done every day..but I knew deep down I was losing him. That was 5 years ago January. He was my brave hero who fought every day. And now? The tears aren’t as constant, the feeling you don’t belong here, anywhere, because your child isn’t here with you... aren’t as constant... but we’re different now. Art has been my savior along with other mom’s and family. You’ll be ok... you’ll belly laugh and enjoy a sunset... but it will be different. Sending you love and strength.

  134. My heart goes out to you and the writer of this article. I have worked with patients who have schizophrenia and their families. It is indeed one of the most difficult of illnesses, with loss of potential and scary symptoms that are tough to bear. Some families can’t do it and some people with the illness end up on their own. Your letter is one way to contribute to others understanding, and explain why suicide risk is high with this illness that so many don’t understand. I just want you to know that there are least some people who who get it, I appreciate your sharing,

  135. My heart goes out to you and to all who have experienced such a tragedy in their family. As we are struggling with the suicide of a young boy at a local school, I am trying to come to terms with what we must do as a society to prevent this from happening. Thank you for your courage and ideas for all of those who are suffering. I found your essay and the resources very helpful.

  136. Thank you for writing this piece. I learned a lot.

  137. Wonderful article. I've lost many members of my family to suicide. It changes everything, but....we press on. I teach my kids to develop a toolbox for the hard times.... Mostly I wanted to say....your work around your son's wonderful memory is of great value to all! Thank you!

  138. Thank you for writing this article,our son Ryan, 26 died of suicide 9/9/18. Keep writing about this because the stigma surrounding suicide is real and the only way is to educate.

  139. Dear Halpert Family, I am deeply sorry for your loss of your son & brother. I also lost my only sibling & brother 22 years ago to suicide. I attended SOS support groups at TheLink.org which houses the National Resource Center for Suicide Prevention & Aftercare in Atlanta. I also had private counseling & exercised a lot, many days walking 8 miles. It all helps, especially your desire to continue living. It is commendable you are sharing your story & path towards healing, you will help many people along your journey. It is immensely difficult...you are still in early days. I was able to feel some of the weight of daily grief lessen after 5 years. You are doing all the right things to stay alive, & eventually you will feel alive once again. Heartache & joy can exist in your heart together, it is not one or the other. Be patient & compassionate with yourselves & know your intentions towards your son were always the best imagined & filled with love. heartfelt condolences, Lee

  140. Great Read

  141. The only way to deal with personal trgedies, whether death in the family, your own disability, etc., is to Accept and Adapt.

  142. I have literally nothing to live for. Just waiting for my dogs to die of old age, then I’m gone.

  143. @Paulie Dearest Paulie, Your dogs need you in their life. Your dogs love you. I sincerely hope this present sense of "literally having nothing to live for" will pass. There are so many dogs out there that need love, a loving home, a home where they feel wanted, needed and loved. I hope whatever this battle of having nothing to live for passes and/or gets resolved. Many bleak and dark moments in my past were surrounded with very similar feelings. What continues to keep me from crossing that Rubicon are my cats, not my husband. He could get along okay without me. But my cats NEED me. They DEPEND on me. They continue to be my anchor of stability and comfort. I wish you the very best luck. Please know that this commenter cares about you.

  144. @Paulie Your comment frightens me. You must be in so much pain whether it be physical or psychological and my heart goes out to you. Please reconsider....we will all die soon enough anyway..without even trying...maybe something interesting or good will happen in the meantime. Also there are still many puppies and kittens who need your love and care...maybe stick around and be an angel here on earth for the short time we have here anyway. I found that volunteering in whatever capacity my limited physical ability allows me, takes my mind off dark thoughts and my focus goes to the satisfaction of making this difficult world a tiny bit nicer for someone else. Please know there are those who care.

  145. @Paulie Me too. My daughter just killed herself 2 months ago. She was the only member of family. My house is a cemetery.

  146. An unpopular opinion: People have a fundamental RIGHT to end their own lives. People have no obligation to bear their misery for the sake of others’ well being or religious hangups.

  147. May Garrett’s memory be for a blessing.

  148. As a survivor of multiple attemps I want to let you all know that we, the chronically depressed, with what they call persistant depressive disorder or dysthymia, are very good at not letting you actually know how we feel. We can cover it up very well. You would never know. And even if you suspect something is wrong, or not right. You may never know. This is NOT your fault. And even if you do know, sometimes all your help can be rejected. You are NOT at fault, I know you would help if you could. But even then, it may not be enough. This is especially so with people who fall somewhere on the "borderline personality disorder" spectrum. Like me. It is a daily fight that I fight alone. And it wears you out. You seek solace anyplace you can. Drugs, alcohol, risky sexual behavior and self harm. I have had 30 years of help. And I feel just as helpless now as I did 30 years ago. I know that when a family member commits suicide it hurts, and it hurts badly the rest of your life. But you really have no idea of the torment some of us have. Suicide transitions us to a different place where we finally may have some peace and happiness. You may be heart broken, but remember that what ever was bothering the suicide victim, they are finally at peace. Their torment is over. You can not look at these victims as having had a wonderful life with everything being perfect. I can only speak for myself here, but mine has been a horror show. All I want is a little happiness.

  149. I hope you find some peace while you’re here. You matter enormously, internet stranger, and as someone who has struggled with existential questions, I can only suggest that IMHO, I think the point of life is service to others. I think a lot about people like you, and you probably think nobody cares or worries. But I do. You’re someone’s child and deserving of love. Please believe that.

  150. As the mother who lost her beloved son 22 months ago from suicide, I have thought long and hard about how my son was feeling and what drove him to leave us the way he did. I am so very sorry that he experienced such pain and I am sorry for the pain that you suffer from. I am glad to hear that you have decided to stay. Every single day, I wish my son would have. He was only 29 years old and he succumbed to his depression. I will never accept that him leaving us wasn’t a mistake. I am not a religious person, but I pray that you will experience happiness or at least contentment in this world. Please don’t give up. My son was good and kind and intelligent and beautiful and loved. But he couldn’t see it because he was sick. I wish I would have spent more time telling him how great he was and how much he was loved. Somehow I think that if he would have known the heartache and devastation that his death has brought to us, that he would have stayed. I bet it would be the same for your loved ones if you left. Please stay. Where there is life, there’s hope.

  151. Oh god, this broke my heart and I cried reading it. I can’t imagine losing my child and know for a fact that I’d be right behind him if he died. He’s fine - happy and healthy- and I’m grateful daily for that. You have all my sympathy and endless condolences.

  152. My father committed suicide over forty years ago, when I was 24. I don’t agree with this concept of saying someone died by suicide. It implies that the suicide had no control over his or her acts. This is not only not true, but it forecloses analysis of what happened and what can be done to prevent another suicide. The person who has committed suicide is gone, so he or she doesn’t care about how his or her death is characterized. The only people benefiting from this no blame, no guilt approach are the survivors. I have no idea whether the authors did or did not do anything to contribute to their son’s suicide. From my experience 90% of the time the parents have gone to their limits and have done all they can to prevent their child’s suicide. Some legitimately did not know. Some could have seen the signs, but were too self involved to notice. Parents can learn from the mistakes of other parents. This is why just saying “he died by suicide” is wrong.

  153. @Bathsheba Robie My Mother and my Aunt killed themselves. For them, I do believe their parents (my grandparents) were to blame. My grandfather sexually molested both of his daughters, and my grandmother stayed silent and married to him. They never got help or support, their lived reality was denied and dismissed. I understand why they chose to disappear. They were not victims of suicide, they did not die by suicide, they decided to commit suicide to be free from the pain, shame and lack of compassion from their own parents. My latest thinking on suicide goes like this: Everyone alive is given their own life to do with it what they chose to do. It is each person's right to be here or not. No one has to stay here, alive and in pain if they don't want to. Suicidal ideation and also surviving the loss of a loved one after suicide is an opportunity to turn one's own life into a spiritual practice. The space left behind by those who've decided to take their own life is an opportunity to learn to break with identification with the mind made self, to find the true self, one with all that is.

  154. @Bathsheba Robie Please reconsider your father's action, which must have hurt very much. "Died by suicide" is not wrong - the phrase "committed suicide", with its implication that this was a sin and/or a law-breaking choice, carries far more stigma, hurts survivors more and contradicts the truth that mental illness is just that - an illness. And yes, I do know what I'm talking about, though my loss is still too painful to talk about here. While I am not at all religeous, I was impressed by the words of a Catholic priest who compared mental illness, particularly depression, to a physical illness, such as cancer. Some recover and are fine, some suffer recurrent problems and need lifelong support in some form, and for some, it is fatal. FYI, the reason is at least partly genetic: https://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/nov/14/gene-raises-suicide-risk http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/05_00/suicide_gene.shtml Don't stigmatise those who were in so much pain. Someone who found a drug which treated his lifelong depression, then fell victim to ALS, said near the end of his life that he would rather have ALS than depression - that's how much it hurts.

  155. @Bathsheba Robie Do we say people that die by cancer, committed cancer? Mental illness kills the same way cancer kills. That is why we say by suicide.

  156. Tbh, I had terrible parents whose virulent homophobia contributed to suicidal ideation when I was in this age range. Many parents who “lose” children to suicide are directly at fault, having tried to kill off true parts of their children when they were still alive. I have no sympathy for these authors.

  157. My father was gay, and I grew up in the Delta. The way that America and our schools have ignored the plight of LGTBQX is criminal. (Yay on the new SCOTUS decision.) My brothers came up in 1960s and 70s. One of them died of a recreational drug overdose at 18, and the other ended his life 8 years later. Both were heterosexual. I wrote a book about my life with a gay dad in the Deep South: in my research, I traced it all - the deaths of my brothers - back to Dad being gay and to how my siblings (bc of people calling themselves Christians, and bc of hate-filled political leaders) did not understand what “gay” meant. In those years, leaders called LGBTQX perverts/pedophiles. My brothers were bullied and called names. I experienced mistreatment too. It truly is unbelievable to me that with all the history books about homosexuality, that they’re not mandatory reading in grade school so that these LBGTQX will stop being bullied, especially by their own families and teachers and coaches and principals. I hear you on how some families drive their children to suicide. Ours was more complicated - the small town killed my brothers. When my brothers died, my parents died emotionally. I never experienced lasting, reliable love from my parents bc my older brothers died. Something needs to be done precisely for gay children in anti- gay families. (Never say homophobic. They’re not scared of gays. They loathe them. Often, but not always, in the name of some god-head.)

  158. Friends of my parents lost their son to suicide. When I ran into them through happenstance several years later, I could see by the look in their eyes, clear and joyful, that something had changed. As secular jews they found what they needed by attending the Unitarian church. My heart goes out to Ms. Halpert.

  159. My wonderful son took his life in 2011 when he was 19 years old and in college. Within about 3 months after receiving a prescription for Adderall from a doctor, he couldn’t eat or sleep or concentrate and lost all interest in socializing with his friends. A few weeks after his death I went to a local Compassionate Friends meeting where one of the parents grieving for a child who had fought a long illness angrily yelled at me saying my son had it all and threw it away, while her child fought to keep their life. The experience greatly intensified my grief — and still does. I never went back. That’s just one of the many devastating sides to SUICIDE — it sets you apart from everyone, even other grieving parents. Aside from my family, I am surviving thanks to my son’s loving friends, and being lucky enough to be in a kind and supportive work environment. You may find these resources helpful: “Healing After Loss Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief” by Whitmore-Hickman (the best book out of maybe 40 I read); POS (Parents of SUICIDE) which has meeting in Manhattan and can also be accessed online; and Hospice Care Bereavement Network of Long Island where you will work with other parents and be supervised by trained bereavement counselors.

  160. @CLM I am so sorry you had this experience but I have found support groups where everyone has lost a child to suicide to be far more helpful for the reasons you describe. And a woman who lost her husband suddenly at a young age to a heart attack sent me "Healing After Loss." It's still on my bedside table and remains one of my favorite and most helpful books on the grieving process.

  161. Are there any holistic treatments (non-drug) which help depressed family members. How do we promote care and not violence as a society. This includes self-care and removal of blame. Condolences.

  162. @glorybe Depression and suicide may be closely linked but both have multiple causes. while they can fix problems caused by chemical imbalance, medications may only relieve the symptoms and not the root causes if they are non chemically based. Worse, those who are undergoing medicinal treatment can be actually more at risk. My friend's wife (also my friend, of course), committed suicide at a hospital setting 9 years ago When I was a hotline volunteer decades ago, some newbies thought they could all the afflicted's problems and the latter could live happily ever after. Alas, we weren't social workers. More importantly, some problems are intractable! How do you fix people's grieves because they lost someone to suicide? How do you relieve children's burden of caring for aging parents when they have exhausted all available means? However, it is possible that their aloneness is what is intractable. Support groups help. And other human to human contact. Even if there are no solutions. Or rather, don't try to solve problems. One word of caution, when you say "any holistic treatments (non-drug)," do you want to avoid medicine? Sometimes, medicine is part of a holistic treatment. It is important the sufferer is the primary person at risk, even when the caregivers are under stress as well.

  163. This is the most intense comments section I have ever read. Thank you for this article. And thanks to all the comment writers sharing their stories. Life is so precious and precarious. Let's all go forth and bring as much kindness and light into this world as we possibly can. Real peace be with all of you.

  164. @Peter Kalmus So well said. I'm glad it has started an important dialogue.

  165. Ms. Halpert, I’m so sorry for your loss. We recently lost a beloved son as well. He was 25 and had battled debilitating depression and a seizure disorder for years. Like you, we’d like something positive to result from his passing. I’d love to hear more about Garrett’s Place - how you started it, where it’s located, who runs it, etc. Sometimes when our sweet boy was struggling, he chose to come home to our peaceful home in the woods. It would be nice if other young adults had a similar option. Any information you could share would be greatly appreciated. God bless you for your honesty and authenticity.

  166. We lost our precious 14 year old on January 22, 2019. He was battling depression and also had some mental health struggles. We had him in counseling and there was a good team at the school trying to help - a mental health counselor, psychiatrist, guidance counselor and tutor. We were 2 days away from meeting with the team to address ongoing issues like him refusing to take his medication. He hid so much from us and told us he was fine. He had lots of friends and some very close friends and a precious little girlfriend that he adored and I know he never wanted to hurt her or anyone else. But his actions did hurt and devastate many: his older brother who has had to go on depression medication; his little girlfriend who has been depressed and suicidal and attempted to take her own life last summer - she still cries herself to sleep at night; his best friend who has been depressed and attempted suicide several months ago. I am crumbling inside but feel like my husband and I have to be the strong ones. We are channeling our grief into getting Hope Squads started in the schools in our area to combat teen suicide and to bring suicide awareness to educators and kids. We were just getting started and completed some training in January - and then the schools were shut down. We have one school on board with starting this fall and are hoping to add others. We started a non-profit, Christopher's Hope Foundation, to raise the funding for Hope Squads and suicide prevention.

  167. This article was just sent to me by my niece. My son, Nickolaus killed himself today. I'm so raw right now but just wanted to say thank you for the article. I'm sure in the week's and months to come I will learn more about being in this sad world of families who have lost someone to suicide. God Bless all of you.

  168. @Mark Long Hello. I am so sorry for you and your son. My daughter Sonia killes herself in 10 of June. Se was only 18.

  169. My great niece just took her life 3 days ago. She was 25 years old. Beautiful, struggled with depression, personality disorder, we think bipolar too. We tried to help, but she shut us out. We had her going to counseling, and was given medication, but did not take them. The pain is unbearable for us. Her mother is devastated. Yes at times we feel maybe we did not do enough? Guilt, overwhelming sadness,

  170. My 17 year old son died one week ago today of suicide. He has been happy until 2020 quarantine restrictions. On top of that I have been getting cancer treatment, three treatments since 2018. Of my kids, he seemed the most stable. He stopped doing chores without being asked, and stopped hanging out with me much. We still ate dinner together, as well as occasional card games, but there was a sharp decrease in the time he spent with me. He was engaging with good friends online. He used to meet them in person for D&D, but they switched to online to socially distance. He was stressed about online schooling, but he seemed “ok.” He never touched drugs or alcohol. He had a 4.0 gpa last year but had 2 Cs this year. We never put pressure, but only encouraged good grades. I told him he could drop his math class if he wanted or we could get a tutor. I never knew he was hurting so badly or I would have done anything to help him. He was a pure joy. He was funny, smart, beautiful, and had so many who loved him. I didn’t see the signs until too late, because of the cloud of this year obscuring what is considered normal. I hate myself for not seeing the signs. That day he gave me 3 extra long hugs, which I had no idea meant goodbye. He wrote a text message that he was sorry he didn’t open up more, and that I was the best mom he could ask for. It wasn’t a message that seemed like a goodbye. Our family is completely devastated.

  171. 1st my condolences to all who have lost a child. It saddens me that some here, due to their own emotional problems, have said things to worsen your pain. My beautiful, popular, funny, & loving 20 yr. old son who was the light of our lives did not die by suicide, but by the fatal mistake of mixing pain pills with alcohol. He was my heart, & though it's been 18 yrs, I haven't recovered from the sudden tearing away. Our faith is the only thing that has kept us going. We know that we know that we will see him again. Please don't let "religious" people tell you you may not. Jesus is merciful, & He won't hold mental illness against your child anymore than He would diabetes.

  172. Julie /All - We found out we lost our beloved 19-year old son and only child, who succumbed to depression-led suicide, on April 27, 2021. Today is April 30th, and would have been his 20th birthday...things are still just so painfully raw, and yet I wanted to add my thoughts to the comments. I am so sorry and also send condolences to everyone who lost a child to suicide or other malady, and now join that group of grieving parents. I found this article on the night after we learned of our son’s death in a desperate middle-of-the-sleepless-night effort to find something online that would help me process why this happened, what my wife and I did wrong and words that would soften the sharp, agonizing pain I was feeling. Thank you, Julie, for this article, which provided me with some level hope of how my wife and I could ever possibly move forward in our lives without our son. We have only just started to look into therapists and peer support groups as you suggest. Your example of creating meaning out of your child’s suicide by creating a non-profit organization honoring Garrett to help others with mental health challenges have given us some ideas...I just donated to that site and perhaps there is a way to get more details (offline) about how you and your husband did that. I stumbled on your article just at the right time and my desperate need to find something to help me salve the immense pain and heartache I am feeling. Thank you so much and God Bless.

  173. @David I also have a fresh incident that happened on April 29th or 30th (they are still trying to determine the window of time to see which day it was on) and we lost our beautiful 24 year old daughter to suicide. Like the author, we were celebrating an event, a birthday, that will now forever be linked with this. I'm at the stage where I'm dreading Monday as that will begin my search into talking with others about this while I try to begin funeral arrangements and obituaries and all the things that come with this. At a time when you just want to curl into a ball and not talk to anyone who hasn't had this happen. How to handle mundane things again.....like being civil to someone at a Starbucks drive-thru who is hanging out their window as happy as can be asking how my day is and isn't it a beautiful day. I'm sorry for both of our losses. I wish you and your family all the best in finding any kind of healing and hope we can both get there someday.

  174. @Tobi Sund - I am breaking down in tears again in reading about your daughter’s passing recently. She, like our son, succumbed to a disease despite our efforts to help them, whether through treatments like counseling or medication or just trying to express and convey to them how much we loved them. We, too, have begun the funeral planning process which is unimaginably painful to go through...but we have had incredible support from family, friends, neighbors, and others in the local and extended communities who knew us or our son. The outpouring of love and support has been one of the lifelines keeping us going. Just like, you, I look at others going about doing their daily activities in a “normal” manner I feel apathetic or in some moments even bitter about the mundane concerns of the strangers around me. The world for me and my wife is not normal. In fact, in my view, my wife and I both “died” on April 27th with our one and only son. We now are frozen in time, grieving, while trying to figure out how to move forward and find purpose, now without any other children to care for. I take hope we will find our path forward with the help of each other, our families and friends and peer group help. I also do sincerely wish you and your family the very best in your journey forward to healing and hope.

  175. My daughter was 24 when he died by suicide. She had borderline personality disorder and suspected Bipolar but because of her mental health issues refused to believe she needed any help. Her older brothers and sisters and family could never help her. I kept thinking she would get better. That eventually she would understand she needed the help and would let us help her get it. When she was a teenager we had her in all the therapies/groups/etc...but after she became an adult, she wouldn't go and wouldn't take any medications. I'm so sad that she felt she felt so alone in the world and that there was no other choice. This is fresh for me and the only thing that is keeping me going is trying to be stable enough to get her surviving younger & older siblings through this.