February 1, 2021 at 4:31 p.m.

Fresh from the Farm: Suicides leave effects throughout community

By Shelley [email protected]

It has been awhile since I have written an article for "Fresh From the Farm." Many things have happened here on the farm over the past year, some that were great and some that were not so great.

But I think that I will wait to update you on some of those things and talk about something that has touched most of us within our community.

Twelve years ago, on June 7, 2008, many of you remember the great flood that hit our state. I was at a goat show with two of my children. It was horrible getting there as I drove through torrential rain. (It wasn't actually raining when I left!) We got to the fairgrounds, unloaded and then my phone rang. 

"Shelley," I heard my son's girlfriend say. "Yes," I responded. She then said, "He's gone." 

I didn't have to ask questions. I knew. The rest of my conversation was with the coroner. My son had taken his life. He was only 28. 

It took us two hours to get to the show and eight hours to make the drive back due to the road damage from the flooding. That was the longest drive of my life.

My husband met me in the driveway. His first words were, "You told me 20 years ago he would do this. How did you know?"

I simply said, "I'm his mother."

David suffered from mental illness most of his life. 

That was the second time I had received such a phone call.  My dad took his life in 1983. I was 19, my brother was 12. One of the things that I can remember my mom telling me, after my dad's death, was how grateful she was that David Webster, one of his teachers, was so kind to my brother. Mr. Webster took care of him when she couldn't. I have known David Webster since I was in fifth grade. His kind words and actions didn't surprise me. I was just as grateful as my mother was for him being there.

Recently I got that call again. My cousin's grandson had taken his life.  

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in our youth. I know parents that have lost a child as young as 11 to this beast. It knows no boundaries, whether it be age, gender, rich, or poor. Suicide doesn't care. 

It is my belief that folks that do take their own life are mentally ill. It is natural human instinct to survive. When that instinct is lost, something is not firing right in the brain. Whether it be years before or 30 seconds before, they have become mentally ill.  Someone that dies by suicide is no different than someone that dies from cancer, heart disease, or any other disease. But I will say that the grieving process is a lot different. At least, for me, it is. And when it is a child, it adds a whole other level to grief. It is extremely difficult for parents to cope with the suicide of a child. 

I don't believe that God condemns those that die by suicide. He doesn't condemn those that pass from any other disease. When someone has cancer, we can usually see they are sick. When someone passes from a heart attack, we see that there were measures taken to save them. Those that leave us due to mental illness often show no signs. They smile when others are around; they might be the life of the party. They are masters of disguise so to speak. We don't see that their illness is eating them alive. 

Our world is a little crazy right now. (That may be a bit of an understatement!) Some folks are struggling to deal with things. If you see one of these folks and if you are able, step up to help them. Leave a bag of groceries on someone's porch. Run an errand for them. Send someone a "Thinking of You" card. Just sit and listen.

But most of all, just be kind to everyone. That takes nothing but a little effort. Even if they may not be the nicest person in the world, be the better person and be kind.  Just by smiling and saying hello to someone, you might save their life. For that five seconds in their day, someone cared enough to acknowledge them.

Most of all, teach your children to be kind. 

If you are having suicidal thoughts, then please tell someone. Talk, write, scream, yell, or whatever it takes. Make it known. I don't know a single person that isn't loved by someone. Somebody really does care! 

If you need to talk about the loss of a loved one to suicide or want to know the full story of my son and dad, I can be found on Facebook. 

The Suicide Hotline is 800-273-8255.