Suicide at 17 leaves the rest of us wondering how could we have helped?

My daughter told me yesterday that one of the girls at her high school had died. I asked her what happened and she said she did not know. Today we found out that the girl had hung herself. Now everyone is left wondering why. there will be crisis counsellors at the school tomorrow. The girl was a senior and she was 12 days away from graduating but now there will be a rose on her chair. I talked to my daughter and just said that our problems are temporal and they will pass but suicide is forever. it is sad to know that so much potential will never be realized and we will never know what she could have achieved. We grieve for the loss to her family but we have to continue to talk to our young people and let them know into every life there will be sadness and disppointment, but we want them to reach out and not internalize their pain. Parents, friends, loved ones take this opportunity to talk to the young people in your life and let them know that you are there for them. Sometimes they simply need someone to listen not provide all the solutions but be that safe place that we all need. Sometimes they are seeking advice and be brave enough to give it. Sometimes we need to speak first and just ask how is it going and be willing to stick around long enough to really get an answer. That will require us to put the phone down and turn off the computer. It is going to require us to be truly present. Suicide at any age is painful, but at 17 it is a loss to the family and to society because we will never know what she could have been.

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