I live in a small, rural community. We have one high school. Many of the students have parents and grandparents that attended that same school. We have only lived here a few years and are slowly building those ties to the community. Two years ago today at 9:41 a.m. tragedy struck that shook the town. One of our teenagers committed suicide at the high school during the school day. Though I did not know them, the family was a part of my church. The family was loved in the community. I would guess 1000 or more showed up for the funeral. Our church building seats 400 at best. There were people packed everywhere. There were even some watching the service on a video screen outside. For me, after the funeral, the family faded back into the background because I didn’t know them.
But, I would see them at church. I would pray for them but didn’t want to intrude on their grief. I didn’t know them. That changed a few months ago. The mom started to go the women’s group that I am a part of. We had a few conversations and I added her as a Facebook friend. I subscribed to her blog. I watched her and her husband at church. They are not the same people I saw two years ago. Grief has changed them as grief always does. But, they have allowed grief to change them for the better. They have run into the arms of their Savior and are receiving his healing touch.
Some, in times of tragedy, run from God. They ran to God. They have been touched by their friends, family and their church. They have not stopped living. Life goes on for the survivors of a suicide. I have listened to Cassie, the mom, at the women’s group. She has shared stories of tears and of joy. She has shared how her family has reached out to help other families that have been affected by teen suicide.
I don’t mean to sound like they don’t struggle, she has shared those stories too. What I see in Cassie’s life is the love of God shining. She has chosen to trust God in one of the most difficult situations a parent can be.
Life goes on and Cassie is not stuck in the past. I have heard her talk of memories of her son but she doesn’t live there. Her husband is a local police officer. He recently tested for promotion. She asked for prayer for his test. She talked about planning a birthday surprise for her youngest son. She found the specific tennis shoes he had asked for. She was excited to be able to give them to him.
I titled this post 731. That is the title of the post on her blog. I don’t think she will mind me using it too. She starts her post by saying that 731 is the number of days that they have survived since the death of their son. She chose to write the blog post on this day to grieve, honor her son and maybe save a life. I would like to stand with her.
Her son, Isaac, had struggled with depression. He was receiving help. But it was too little, too late. My family has a history of mental illness. No one has succeeded with suicide. There are extended family members who have considered it. I also have a dear friend whose husband committed suicide. I have been on the fringes of it.
Our society puts a stigma on mental illness. We in the church are no better. Mental illness can be treated. If you are in a place where you are considering suicide, there is help. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24/7 at 1-800-273-8255. You are not alone.
I tell the story as an outsider. If you would like to read more, this is Cassie’s blog post. I write today to honor her family and the memory of her son, Issac. I also write with the hope that another life can be saved. I have scheduled this post to be published at 9:41 a.m. to honor Issac.
What about you?
I know that suicide and mental illness are hard topics to talk about. If you are struggling, there is help. Even if you do not have health insurance, there are places you can receive treatment. Reach out. Yes, it is scary to admit you are struggling. Take a chance and reach out. It may be your own life you are saving. As always, comments are welcome. If you would like to say something to me privately, add that to your comment. Comment do not appear for public viewing until I have seen and approved them.