Tag Archives: teen age suicide

Shakespeare Didn’t Corner the Market on Tragedy

photo from Star Telegram

Shakespeare did not corner the market on tragedy.

The play that has been unfolding in the past month here in Fort Worth is worthy of a Shakespearian nod along with the best of his works.

Last month there was a two vehicle accident in the middle of the afternoon. The driver of a pickup veered into the path of an Escalade EXT. The teen age driver and one of his passengers was killed. Another passenger was seriously injured. The driver was drunk. He had left school at lunch time to purchase a 32 oz. bottle of malt liquor. He was seventeen. The dead girl and the injured one were both fifteen. I’m sure they were probably excited to be with “an older man” who was showing off his skills of being able to drink and drive at the same time. That was a fatal flaw in their thinking.

As if that were not enough of a tragedy, the event took another life yesterday. The teenager had a friend who tried to stop him from driving. The newspaper article does not go into more details of how the friend tried to stop the driver. In any event, the friend failed in his efforts and instead decided to follow the truck to make sure his friend and passengers arrived home safely. He witnessed the fatal accident and tried to help, but it was too late. The girl died at the scene. The driver died the next day.

The friend was left behind with a terrible sense of guilt  . He blamed himself for the death of his friend. He had failed to prevent the accident. His self-reproach was unimaginable.

The teen age years with their normal angst are hard enough to navigate. Adding to that the death of a friend, for which rightly or wrongly one takes on full responsibilty, is a load that few people can handle.

The friend succumbed to the pressure.

He died a few days ago from a self-inflicted gun shot wound to his head, leaving his mother and a younger brother to find him.

He also left behind another who claims he was the young man’s “best friend”.

The clerk who sold the boy the malt liquor was arrested in a sting. The mother is left with her grief. There was no gun in the house. She will always wonder how he was able to obtain it.

The boy had returned some borrowed clothing from his “best friend” and talked about what good friends they were…like brothers. The friend is now probably wondering why he didn’t pick up the signals that the boy was saying good bye.

The teen age years are difficult enough to get through without the addition of guns and alcohol. The DARE program presented by the police just isn’t enough. They try to teach the kids tools to help them through the gauntlet until adulthood is reached. Sometimes they are successful, sometimes not.

Do I have the answers? Certainly not. I have felt blessed every day that my son made it through those years of drinking and driving in spite of me more than because of me.

Tragedies happen. If someone knows the answers to how to keep drivers from drinking, teen agers from obtaining guns, and friends from committing suicide because of the guilt, I hope s/he comes forward. We have been involved with these problems too long.

I’m certain Shakespeare with his command of language could even come up with a quote that would wake us up to the fact that what we are doing is not good enough. Enough is enough!

My knowledge of Shakespeare in extremely limited. The quote that kept running through my mind as I read the paper was this:

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep:
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to…

It is sad that the friend who tried to help decided “not to be” and all too sadly, “there’s the rub”.

Namaste  Attic Annie

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Filed under alcoholic drinking, childhood, friendship, grief, teen age suicide, Uncategorized

It’s not you, it’s him

depressed girl

Hi there. This is the last day I will dwell on this subject. If you just found me, this is the third day on my porch talking about my father. Please join me. Why am I telling all this? I figure there may be others out there who went through similiar depression  and I want to spread a message that there is  hope when the story ends.

The skin on my thighs were turning hard from leaning against the sides of the freezer. I kept hoping the oxygen would run out so I would just lose consciousness. Evidently, with the lid not locked there was just enough air  seeping through to keep me alive . I tried to close my eyes and let the cold, black space consume me. It was a familiar feeling.

Do you believe in guardian angels? I do. S/he kept nudging me and finally when I realized I wasn’t going to pass out, I opened the lid and climbed back out. I could have so easily found the twine to lock the handle. I put my clothes back on and sat in a chair. I finally decided maybe I shouldn’t be in the house by myself so I walked across the street where a caretaker lived with our elderly neighbor. When I told her what I had done, she called my father and aunt who both came home from work. It was the first time my father had ever left work early.

The doctor was called and came to the house and we all sat down to talk. We were sitting on the couch and my father put his arm around my shoulders and asked me what was wrong. He didn’t have a clue. The revulsion was physical and immediate. After my entire life of wanting hugs and kisses, when he did show some concern, my stomach turned and I silently wrenched away.

It was decided I would spent the night at the hospital under observation. The ward was full so I was on a gurney in the dayroom since a room was not available. The next day it was determined I could go back home under the direction of a psychiatrist. Nothing had changed. Nothing was discussed at home. The whole thing just didn’t happen.

The following Monday I went back to school and told no one. The next Friday I was in the school musical in the chorus performing “Finigan’s Rainbow”. No one had a clue. I even delivered my one line, “Come and get your spaghetti with two meat balls”, albeit not with a very enthusiastic voice.

I visited with the psychiatrist three times. He gave me a battery of tests, including an IQ test (what? I must be dumb to pull such a stunt?). The next visit after talking to him he visited with my father. The third visit, in all his wisdom, he said, “”You don’t have a problem. It’s all with your father. You don’t need me. I need to see him.”

I wanted to shout, “What do you mean? I tried to end my life! I’m a wreck!” But I didn’t. My father refused to seek help. I couldn’t get the help I needed. I was stuck. Life went on. In the fall I went away to college. I got a letter from him about every six weeks or so. No phone calls. No visits to the campus.

The next summer I transferred to another school and was in summer school when I got a message that he had had a heart attack. I took the train home and when I walked into his hospital room he acted very surprised and asked why I was home. I thought I saw a glimmer that he might have been glad to see me but I wasn’t sure. We visited for a short time and the next morning I was back on the train. I finished the summer and he slowly recovered enough to go back to work. 

I was in a nursing program and there was a capping ceremony in the fall. He of course didn’t come. My aunt and her cousin drove up to Chicago to be there for me. My heart ached that my father couldn’t or wouldn’t come. I wanted to show him that despite my childhood I was achieving my dream. I felt so completely lonely in spite of the happy occasion. Others in the class were surrounded by friends and relatives. Right after the ceremony I was driven back to the dorm and my aunt went back home.

There is much more in between but I’ll skip to my senior year in college. I changed majors and came back home to attend the school in town. It was spring again, April, and I was busy with my boyfriend and lots of papers and school projects. I had started and was the first president of a new women’s organization on campus. My father was hospitalized again but I was told that he was doing all right. He had congestive heart failure by this time.

I thought about driving downtown to see him but I was busy so I remember saying, “I’ll go tomorrow.” That night my aunt and I were preparing for bed. The phone rang and all I heard my aunt say was, “Oh, he did. OK”. She stayed in her room and said, “Annie, your dad died.” It was like saying, “Annie, the paper’s here.” or “Annie, dinner’s ready.” Her voice was flat. There was no emotion at all. Not one speck.

I’ll save the funeral for another time. To this day I remember thinking I wanted to talk to my father in the hospital and actually ask him if he ever really loved me. To ask him if he could ever forgive me for living instead of my mother. To ask him what happened between the two of us. But I didn’t. Now I couldn’t. He took those answers to the grave with him.

Whenever the topic of relationships with parents rises I always tell whoever is talking to take the time now to resolve those issues. Even if a person is estranged from a father, it still hurts when they die, especially if you are twenty-one.

I have been plagued with bouts of depression throughout my entire life. It is just coming to light how early trauma if unresolved can lead to lifelong problems. In my case I have always felt remote and disconnected. There has been a numbness that will not go away. In my sixth decade of life I am finally in a position to examine and deal with those feelings, but it has been a long road. It’s almost like having PTSD for an entire life, but there is hope and help available.  Fortunately there are many web sites now available.

http://helpguide.org/mental/emotional_psychological_trauma.htm

I’m blogging a poem I wrote warning fathers to love their young daughters. If I could get that message out and change one young girl’s life, it would be worth it. All of my past would have served a purpose and I could be at peace within.  Namaste. Attic Annie

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Filed under Casual conversation, diary, general topics, life, musings, relationships, teen age suicide, transition, Uncategorized