This post contains highly emotional content so please be aware that it may not be something you wish to read. It contains information on a childs suicide so reader be aware.
One of the forums I tend to peruse is the parenting forum on city-data.com. The other day I came across a thread that really gave me a serious jolt and heavy reminder that sometimes things come up that no parent should ever, EVER have to go through. And it reminded me that I will do anything to ensure that this particular scenario would never be something we would have to go through.
The thread highlighted a news article from this past week about a 9 yr old boy who was found dead in the school nurses bathroom, having hung himself. If you wish to read the original article you can find it linked here It seemed to have come completely out of left field as no one had any clue that this would even be a potential idea in the childs mind. I can not even fathom the depths of despair the parents must be going through right now and my heart just goes out to them. Even allowing my mind to quickly dart on hypothetical scenarios makes me reel back and shudder.
This affected me in a very strong way for two reasons: the first being that this child was only a year older than my oldest child, which really struck close to home for me that this situation can happen at any age. Depression and suicide are not just adult topics anymore. It is real and it can affect children. The other reason this hit me hard is because Xavier, sweet child that he is, also has a hard time with strong emotions while tending to internalize a lot. With his ADHD and ODD sometimes he can act rashly, and other times I often wonder if he tells me everything he is feeling that is important. And while I know my son in the long run is a very happy, well adjusted child, I also understand that what he deals with via severe ADHD and ODD can do a number and has done a number on him in the past. I want to make sure that he knows that no matter what, J and I are ALWAYS there for him. And if for some reason he feels he cant not talk to us that he needs to find another adult he can trust.
I vacillated for awhile about how to go about this. In the end, I decided to show him the article, give him the facts, and have a big heart to heart. I know a lot of other parents may disagree with my decision to be very matter of fact about this, but I felt that for my son this was the best approach and I gave it a lot of thought. After discussing it with J he also agreed the best approach was to not sugar coat facts.
So the other night after dinner I asked Xavier if we could talk and that I had something important I wanted to talk about with him and he agreed. I warned him it was a serious conversation but very important. We went upstairs and I had him sit on my lap and I told him about a little boy near his age who was so sad, and that for some reason he didnt tell his parents and instead he took his life away. The news article had a picture of the boy, and Xavier stared at it while I talked. I talked about how awful he must of felt, but how sad it was he couldnt feel he could talk to someone. I told him how devastated his entire family was now, and that they can not have their precious little boy back. And I hugged him hard and looked him straight in the eye and told him that if he ever felt that sad or upset about something, that no matter what I pleaded for him to tell us. And if he couldnt he was to find an adult he trusted and tell them. And that it wouldnt matter what the scenario was, Mom and Dad would always be there for him!!!
He fervently assured me that he would never ever think of doing something like that and he promised me up and down he would always come to me or J. Both of us sat there in the chair and hugged one another fiercely, both promising to always listen and to always come for help. After awhile he began to ask questions about the boy, why it happened (they are not sure but believe bullying at school had to do with it), and why he didnt go to his parents.
I had no answer for his last question.
We talked about bullying in school, and went over what to do if he was being bullied, or saw someone being bullied, and obviously don't bully other kids because we know how bad it feels. And we cuddled.
I bring this up in my blog because it has to do with one of those parenting situations you never even think you have to worry about, but you do at least have to keep it in the back of your mind and ensure to the best of your ability that your children know you are there for them even in their darkest hours. I knew of suicide and depression, but seeing a boy just a little bit older than my own do something so tragic and so... permanent really pulled me up and made me realize that this is something I may not want to worry about, but I have to at the very least be aware of.
My sympathies to the family who lost their precious boy. I can not even begin to imagine your pain, but though I don't know you, I suffer for you. And I promise I will do my best for my son, so that he knows there are other options if he ever gets so lost.