Updated: Oct 14, 2019
Suicide among teens has been described as a plague or "the new black death" because it is the second biggest killer of 15–29-year-olds in the world today. Officially, over 160,000 people under the age of 25 will kill themselves this year - that's over 50 times more than died in the September 11 terrorist attacks.
My personal mission is a passion to help these 'at-risk kids' because I was one of them. Suicidal 3 times by the age of 20...
I was 16 the 2nd time that I wanted to die. There was no warning that this day wouldn't be just like any routine weekday. I got home from school, fed my sister, took her to work with me, got home, got her ready for bed and turned on the TV at 10 p.m.. Rinse and repeat Monday through Friday. As usual, my stepfather came home drunk which was normal but it wasn't normal for him to be home this early. This wasn't a problem because he would usually just be staggering and silly so I would play along or humor him. But wasn't in his usual silly state. He stumbled past me into the bathroom.
The next thing I knew he came flying out of the door holding a wet towel and roaring at me that he had found it on the floor. I tried to explain that while I was putting my sister to bed that my older brother had come home for a quick shower before going back out. He wouldn't hear it. I begged him to understand that I hadn't gone back in the bathroom or I would surely have picked it up. He screamed, "No excuses," and began to beat me, throw me to the ground with his workboots, brutally kick me repeatedly.
My mother came in the midst of the beating and screaming. I begged her for help with my eyes and words. But nothing. I should have known better because she was responsible for abuse far worse than what was happening at the moment. But somehow I thought maybe...but no, she watched. After it was all over, they went to bed like nothing happened. I could barely move so I ran a tub of hot water.
What made this beating worse than anything before was that my stepdad was my savior!
He took my mom, a single woman and her 3 children out of the welfare system. This good man took on 4 hungry mouths to feed on a truck driver's salary. And from 13-16, he had given me 3 of the best years I could ever remember. Despite the relative neglect, I felt safe. Now that was over and I wanted to die.
As I sat in the tub I thought of all of the reasons why I couldn't tell - the reasons that I'd told myself since I was 4. First, that "Nobody will believe me." Or "She will actually kill me because she almost had before" and the best one, "Better the devil you know. Foster care would be far, far worse." Then for the first time, it dawned on me that these were not my own thoughts but things my mother had told me since I was very little. The realization gave me a momentary boost but it didn't help. I felt certain that there was nowhere to go, nowhere to hide and no one to turn to, I decided that if I was going to die it would be by my own hand so I started to plan my exit strategy.
After I got out of the tub I tried to find something, anything I could take. But because drinking was considered the answer to everything there were no pills in the house. There was booze but my parents had shown me that it would take unimaginable amounts of alcohol to kill me. I finally found a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the back of the hall closet. The label said, "danger - not for internal use" so I held my breath and started to chug it. On the first big gulp...it came right back up. I was exhausted. I gave up on giving up and went to bed.
The next day, as usual, we acted like nothing had happened. Fortunately most of the severe bruising was to my ribs, torso, back and legs but I was too sore and moving too slowly to hide it. So I got my sister off to school but missed school and work that day.
The following day, I knew I had to figure out how to go to school and work without anyone being the wiser. I hadn't had to cover my bruises since grade school but I remembered...all to well.
I made it through the school day but shortly after arriving at work that evening, my boss, Pat, started asking me if I was okay. I kept insisting that I was fine. I loved and respected her for being a quasi-parental figure in my life and I couldn't bear to lie but I couldn't possibly tell the truth. Finally she said, "Look me in the eye when you tell me you're fine." My sister was playing and reading in the back corner by the magazines as Pat continued to pester me. She said, "You may hide it from other people but I know you too well. You're not okay. You're hurt. I can see that you're moving slowly and that you're in pain." She leaned in with the most caring and imploring look and said, "Please, show me your back." I froze and in that instant she saw it in my eyes; the horror of being found out. She slowly and lovingly kept repeating, "I know what's happening. Please, just show me your back for a second." Her use of, "I know what' happening," made me crumble. I slowly lifted my shirt. She seemed to steel herself when she saw the bruises. Then she asked me to turn around and I heard her gasp. When I turned again to face her she was crying with her hands over her mouth.
Early the next morning, Pat drove me to Child Welfare services. I don't recall much of the day except for them taking pictures but they did tell me what they were going to do and allowed me stay in the room as they called our house. When my mother answered the phone they told her that she and my step-dad had until 3 p.m. that day to sign papers to emancipate me as a minor or they would pursue taking my little sister away. It was done that day. Just like that, I had no parents, nowhere to live, no friends, no job and no way to see if my little sister was okay...but I was alive. It wasn't the last time I would be in this dark place but I was alive. And my personal story is the moral of the story...
It took just one caring person to help me to stay alive.
This posts begins to explain why profits from Heals Journey will go to 'at-risk' children and teens. To learn what you can do to 'be that one person' who can save a kid's life, go to: Suicide Prevention in Children and Teens.
To learn more about suicide prevention and anxiety & traumatic stress: