Tag: Teen Suicide


I didn’t want to write this.  There are plenty of other sites to read about this show.  But I’m not getting anything done so I guess I need to get this out of the way.  I’m not going to take time to summarize or comment on filming etc.  You can read other posts for all of that.

There are two sides quickly emerging on this show:  Those who are adamantly against it on one side and millions of high school girls (and maybe boys) on the other who have watched it and probably read the book and experience some form of it every day.

I’m going to point out my 13  issues with the show but don’t stop until you get to the end.

  1. The “F” word is used 258 times.  I don’t know if that is 100% accurate.  It feels like it was said 5 million times to me.  If you don’t hang around high schoolers its not the “F” word that we grew up.  Our “F” word was really bad.  Today it is just a word that comes out with every other word.

2. Gay issues.  Regardless of how you feel on this subject it’s here now.  Our generation didn’t discuss it past “ewww”.  This generation is bombarded with it and they need to make decisions on it.  This show has at least 6 people dealing with it and everyone else around them needs to deal with it too.

3.  No communication with parents.  Zero.  Not one kid in this show has an honest life giving relationship with their parents.  Is this realistic?  If it is realistic we are doomed.  I didn’t count how many times parents said to their children: “You’re a good kid”.   Yeah parents – your kid is good,  it’s everyone else’s kids that are “bad”.

4.  No honest supportive relationships with friends.  At best they are superficial.  At worst they are selfish, hateful, confused and abusive.  The relationships are a means to an end and everyone is fighting to get to the top.   What is the top by the way?

5.  Pre-marital sex.  Pretty similar to the “F” word – there’s a lot of it and “everyone” is doing it.  No signs of birth control.  No signs of protection from disease.  No healthy relationships – it’s just jump in the bed.

6.  Rape.  Not one rape but two.  It’s graphic and it’s brutal and it makes your stomach turn.

7.  Drugs.  This is not a druggy show.  There is some drug usage but that isn’t the main point.  In some ways the issues would be easier to accept if drugs were the starting problem.

8.  Alcohol.  What ever was missed in the way of drug usage, alcohol took its place.  There was more drinking in this series than I have done in my lifetime.   Add this to the previous 7 points and it makes life a drunk driving exercise.

9.  There is N0 God in this show.   Hear me out – there is nothing close to spiritual enlightenment beyond the spirits in the bottle.    Some critics see this as the main reason not to watch this.  I see it as a reality in many teens lives.  Maybe it is the worst point in all of this mess.  Maybe it is the cause for all the other ones.  There is no Truth and there are no Absolutes.

10. Jealousy and hatred.  Yes.  A lot of it.

11. Lack of understanding from adults.  Same goes with the audience.  The response I get from teenagers about this are totally different from responses I get from adults.  Teenagers simply say “Yes it happens”.  Adults try to explain everything going on so they can understand it.

12.  Lies.  I told my kids “if you do something wrong at least admit it.  If you lie about it, it only makes it much worse.”  Yes.  There is a lot of lying with everyone in this show.

13.  Violence.  Slapping, hitting, hitting again, threats, oh and more hitting.  I guess everyone is angry about the first 12 items on the list.

Oh, I forgot.  The big issue in this show is a teen suicide.  This time it is not romanticized or just spoken about.  This is HD living color, brutal, ugly, screaming, bloody suicide.  Let me put it this way – I covered my eyes.  I couldn’t watch.  I probably should have cried.  I was already depressed from watching the show – this just put me over the edge.

Friends have said to me, “how can you watch that?”  You see if you don’t know me I was one of the parents in episode 13.  My wife walked into our son hanging by a wire.  My wife was the one yelling to me to come.  I was the one picking him up telling him to come back saying “No no no no”.  One critic of the show makes a point that his neighbor did this at age 16 so he understands.  No you don’t.  I had friends that committed suicide.  It’s awful.  But there is no comparison to picking up a dead child that seemed fine a minute ago. By choice they are now dead.   There is no way to understand.   Their battles are done, yours are just beginning.

In one minute you are angry about water running over the tub into the hallway.  The next you are facing a life devastation that you will never fully recover from.  How do you reconcile that in your mind?

Here is a good place to breathe….

I am not a psychologist.  I am not running stats on whether this show is helping or hurting the teenagers.  I can say if you are a parent you might want to watch this.  It is awful and it is depressing and it will make you feel terrible.  Do it anyway.  You may even want to watch it with your teenager.

Hug your children today and do your best to fight or understand all 14 of these issues.  It’s that important.


14 years and final

I was reminded again this week how fragile life can be.  Another local 14 year old took her life.  Devoted to God.  Active in a good church.  Active in a youth group.  Home schooled.  Good family.

Don’t bother asking why.  It gets you nowhere.  It is senseless, heartbreaking, earth shattering and most of all . . . it is final.  It’s done and can’t be changed.

I am reminded daily with pictures of my 14 year old.  He would be turning 18 this May.  College?  Military?  Missions? Girlfriends?

Remember 14 year olds.  Your pain is temporary.  Your decision is final.

Psalm 18:3-5

I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and I have been saved from my enemies.
The cords of death entangled me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.




There are times of intense anger when dealing with suicide.. .  I almost wrote suicide victims – but who are the victims?  Are the ones who ended their lives the victims of suicide or the survivors that loved them?  One is gone and out of their misery.  The others will live with the fallout for the remainder of their lives.  Anger is a normal emotion with any death.  We have anger towards God for allowing it to happen.  We have anger against illness, accidents, and everyone involved.  Suicide only adds another level of anger – anger against the one who opted out.  Words like selfish, quitter, hopeless come to mind.  The eternal question of “why” is tattooed on our hearts and the longing fearful thought “was there something that I could have done?”

The anger boils and spills over and soaks everything close by.  I find myself looking at pictures and saying “You bastard!  Why did you do that?”  I don’t even talk like that.  Why do I say it to my own son?

Am I missing the last two words in that question: “to us?”  Am I mad that he did it “to us”? or am I mad that he is gone by his own hand?  Am I mad that he was so abused that he saw no way out?  Am I mad that he didn’t give healing one more try?  One more day?  Am I mad that I wasn’t there to stop it?  Does it matter?  I’m angry.  I’m angry every time I see a picture of him with a big smile and wonder why it couldn’t have helped him like it helped others.

Anger.  Can I forgive him while I’m still angry?  Will the anger subside?

Two years have gone by.  The questions linger but life continues.  I pray for forgiveness to come.  I pray for love to overflow rather than anger.

because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.


Self Inflicted Murder?

One of the battles that rages on suicide is the question of “self inflicted murder”.  I’m not going to go into the whole history and doctrine of capital sin and eternal punishment.  I want to get inside the pain element just for a moment – the “why” that we are all so burdened by.  Let’s start with an extreme case:  On September 11, 2001 terrorists flew planes into the world trade towers.  As the towers were engulfed in flames, people were trapped in the upper floors with no way out.  Here was their choice – stay in their office and burn to death or jump and have a fall to a sudden, and I assume, painless death.  As horrific a thought it is to jump from 100 stories up I cannot imagine standing idol while flames are eating at my flesh.  Personally, I would have jumped in a heart beat and would not have felt any quilt for choosing to end my life.  In my opinion those people were clearly victims of murder by the terrorists.

I talk with individuals who contemplate suicide.  Life for others is similar to 9/11 – it is a perfect day with the sun shining and perfect temperatures.  Inside the mind of these individuals however is a person trapped on the 100th floor with a fire licking at their flesh.  They are in pain and fear and they are facing a slow and horrible death.  Do they choose to stand and suffer or do they leap to a quick and painless death?  It’s not that they wish to die – they just want the pain to stop and they don’t see another way out.

Those of us enjoying the beautiful day cannot understand the fire that is raging.  We cannot understand the pain or the fear.  We cannot understand standing on the 100th floor dangling out the window and taking that frightful fall.  What is so awful in that person’s life that they want it to end?  Is it really a beautiful day or is it a day filled with true evil that causes healthy young vibrant people to end it all?

Approximately 85 people a day end their lives in America.  85 people who are engulfed in flames who choose a quick death.  85 people who cannot enjoy a bright sunny day and the countless number of family and friends who will now suffer for the loss they endure.  Unlike the people trapped in the world trade tower, we have the ability to stop the pain in these lives.

But as for me, afflicted and in pain— may your salvation, God, protect me.



Some practical help for those mourning

Our community is dealing with another horrific teen death.  Here are a couple pointers for friends who want to help but don’t know where to start:

Don’t just say “if there is anything I can do”, yes there are things you can do.  Just do them.  Mow their lawn.  Stop by and clean.  Run errands.  Don’t ask.  The answer will usually be “no”.  If you are a close enough friend just do it.

Give them food but be careful with perishables.  We threw out so much bread and other perishable food.  If it is frozen, make sure it is labeled and easy to prepare.  If you are good at organizing, plan meals with friends over internet sites like Take a Meal.

One of the BEST gifts that we received will sound really dumb.  Toilet paper, paper towels and cleaning wipes.  Seriously.  We had a lot of visitors and all of this came in very handy!  Don’t be embarrassed.  We all need it and when crowds come and go it is essential.

Give them money.  Seriously.  There are A LOT of bills to pay, time off work, and short term needs.  We really appreciated all the financial help we received.  Our church paid for our funeral expenses which was a huge help!  These expenses are never planned.

Give a lot of hugs.  Don’t overstay your visit.  Families are very tired during this time.  Don’t try to get into heavy discussions of “why” and “I wish I could have done something”.

One last item: Mourners are often overwhelmed during the first week.  Remember your friends a month later, 6 months later and a year later.  People forget that mourning goes on for a long time.  Anniversaries are hard (see my blog).  Don’t overwhelm them during the first week but overwhelm them later on when they really feel alone and sad.

Love your friends.  Love your family.  Most of all, love your children.  If they are hurting from this, stay close and love them more.009

Another Teen Suicide

When I started this blog, it was intended to be an uplifting devotional/spiritual thought page.  It turns out that the most read pages are sadly about teen suicide.

I was doing pretty good so far heading into our 2nd anniversary of Isaiah taking his life.  Today I heard one of his friends ended her life.  Another shockwave through our school.  Another gasp through our little town.  All the questions.  A million “why’s” with no answers.   There will be cries of “this has got to stop” and “we need to do something”.   Another family that is devastated and friends that will never forget.  So much pain.  So much sadness.  A permanent solution to a temporary problem.  Why?  I wish I had an answer.

The picture below is from the “safe room” after Isaiah died.  Juliet Benson’s name is signed on it.  I found it on her Facebook page.  I guess tomorrow there will be a “safe room” for her.  I wish there was a “safe room” for these kids before they took their lives. . . .  I didn’t know Juliet but I’m crying like I did.  The pain transfers from one suicide to another.  Hug your kids tonight.  They need it.

safe room


800,000 a year

Suicide called ‘large public health problem’ by WHO

UN health agency calls for action to reduce global suicide rate of 800,000 a year

Thomson Reuters Posted: Sep 04, 2014 10:04 AM ET Last Updated: Sep 04, 2014 10:09 AM ET


More than 800,000 people each year worldwide commit suicide — around one person every 40 seconds — with many using poisoning, hanging or shooting to end their own lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.

In its first global report on suicide prevention, the United Nations health agency said some 75 per cent of suicides are among people from poor or middle-income countries and called for more to be done to reduce access to common means of suicide.

WHO Dr. Margaret Chan

World Health Organization Director Margaret Chan says the agency’s first report on suicide prevention is a “call for action to address a large public health problem which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long.” (Jacquelyn Martin/Associated Press)

The report found that suicides take place all over the world and at almost any age. Globally, suicide rates are highest in people aged 70 and over, but in some countries, the highest rates are found among the young.

In the 15 to 29-year age group, suicide is the second leading cause of death globally.

The WHO’s director general Margaret Chan said the report was a “call for action to address a large public health problem which has been shrouded in taboo for far too long.”

Pesticide poisoning, hanging and firearms are among the most common methods of suicide globally, the report said, and evidence from Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, the United States and Europe shows that restricting access to these means can help to stop people from committing suicide.

Governments should also set up national prevention plans, the report said, noting that currently only 28 countries are known to have such strategies.

The report found that in general, more men die by suicide than women. In richer countries, three times as many men kill themselves as women, and men aged 50 and over are particularly vulnerable.

In poor and middle-income countries, young people and elderly women have higher rates of suicide than their counterparts in wealthy nations, the report found. And women over 70 are more than twice as likely to commit suicide than women aged between 15 and 29.

“No matter where a country currently stands in suicide prevention, effective measures can be taken, even just starting at local level and on a small scale,” said Alexandra Fleischmann, a scientist at the WHO’s department of mental health and substance abuse.

Other preventative measures include encouraging responsible reporting of suicide in the media, such as avoiding language that sensationalizes suicide.

Early identification and management of people with mental illness and drug and other substance abusers is also important.

“Follow-up care by health workers through regular contact, including by phone or home visits, for people who have attempted suicide, together with provision of community support, are essential, because people who have already attempted suicide are at the greatest risk of trying again,” the report said.

The WHO report was published ahead of world suicide prevention day on September 10.


Your Scars are Beautiful

Once again, I have really, REALLY struggled over whether to re-post this.  This is not casual reading.  It is not easy to face.  Am I encouraging Jocelyn in her issues by re-posting her writings?  I hope not.  Am I trying to bring people to see the pain that some people live with?  Yes.  I see and hear a young lady crying out for healing, for life, for salvation, for hope.  I see a person who loved Isaiah and couldn’t save him from his own demons.  What do we do with this?  How do we as Christians respond?  How do we as a society respond?

“I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me.

“Your scars are beautiful”

“Your scars are beautiful”
Do not tell me my scars are beautiful
I did not do this to myself to look beautiful
To appeal to some fucked up
perception of what beauty is
What scars are
What scars represent
Was I beautiful when I was biting my lip
pressing scalding metal to my flesh?
Was it attractive when my mom laid me down on the floor
blood pumping from my arm
the day I went too deep?
Would you tell me I’m beautiful if I didn’t have scars?
Would you have looked twice at me
without the crisscrossing white lines
and the purple blotches?
Wouldn’t it be sad
if the most beautiful thing about me
is the hate that I carry on my body?

“Scars are tattoos with better stories”
Better stories?
Better for who?
Nobody looks at my arms and sees
a good story
A good time
A good memory
Looking at myself
I read the stories
Stories of chaos
Stories of pain
Some marks I remember making so clearly
Others are a mystery
Some of the lines spell out thoughts
Short blurbs of my conscience
on my calf
next to
across my chest
“Die” or “Death”
many times
on my stomach
“Get out”
on my right thigh
on my left
on my arm
and ironically
the biggest
“I know better”
on my leg
Looking at my tattoos
I see the stories there too
Stories of hope
So tell me
How are scars better stories?
Are they preferable?
I’d rather hand over some cash
for an inked man to press needles to my skin
Than give up my life
to take a razor to the same skin

“Never be ashamed of your scars”
Am I to be proud?
If I had harmed anyone else
the way I harmed myself
would you tell me
not to feel remorse?
Why wouldn’t I be ashamed?
I am living on the border
of a society that glorifies my behavior
and a society that condemns it
But neither
will ever understand

“Maybe you should cover your arms; kids will be there.”
“Are you emo or something?”
“Cookie cutter.”
“Why haven’t you just killed yourself?”
“You’re cute. Messed up skin kinda doesn’t help you though.”
“What are you going to tell your kids?”
“Why are we on a team with the emo girl?”
“Stop trying to get everyone’s attention.”
“Why are your sleeves rolled up?”
“I wasn’t going to tell you, but that looks really ugly.”
“You’re wearing a jacket to homecoming, right?”
And today in a coffee shop:
“Have some self-respect.”

I swear I’m nice, just mentally ill

I questioned whether to copy this post.  This is supposed to be a devotional blog.  Well . . .  following God is often messy.  Dealing with His children is ALWAYS messy.  I’ve seen a log of articles on suicide following Robin William’s death.   We want to figure everything out.  We want answers.  We want to know why.  Hearing that Robin was facing Parkinson’s Disease made it a little easier to understand.  It gave us an excuse. It gave him an excuse.

Give yourself a break.  You will never figure it out.  I don’t know what Isaiah was thinking.  I don’t know what Jocelyn is thinking.  She says it below.  People ask how she is doing.  She says ok.  She is  always ok.   If I would have come home a little early that day in October, Isaiah wouldn’t have done what he did.  He would have said he was ok.

Ephesians 6:12

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world andagainst the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.


Inside The Mind Of A Suicidal Teenager


The following is a narrative of my experience and thought process on a particularly rough day last year that I found in the “notes” section of my phone. May be triggering or disturbing to some people. However, these types of thoughts remain relatively normal for me.

Written January 3, 2013

Cross streets randomly without looking
Maybe a driver will take care of this for me
Who am I kidding?
It’s noon in Strasburg
All cars are going 25
Maybe an Amish buggy could trample me
Neighbor walking
“How are you?”
“I’m good”
Why do I still smile?
Memories on this street
Turn up music
Drown it out
Avoid familiar sights
Pretend I have someone to text
Feel tears fighting
How many calories am I burning?
Jump in front of that car
I can see the shadow of my lanyard in my back pocket
Hang yourself
Bowling alley we used to walk to
Burnt down
Rubble now
Used to jump on the cord by the gas pump to hear the bell ring inside
Through abandoned parking lot
Stinging thigh
Why haven’t I washed this sweatshirt?
I smell like blood, weed, and axe body spray
What does blood smell like?
Why is the pharmacy so crowded?
Blood thinners
Box cutter
Same woman working that filled my prescription
She knows more about my mental state right now than any of my friends
It’s becoming obvious
Old Amish ladies glare
Probably think I’m going to steal something
Probably wondering why I’m not in school
Probably assume I’m a drop out
I look like a fuck up
Why is Neosporin so expensive?
I don’t care that much
Pregnancy test?
I wouldn’t remember
How do you treat burns?
Gauze pads, gauze rolls, whatever
Box cutter
Utility knife with extra blade
I have two razors in my pocket anyway
I don’t care
How obvious is this?
Camouflage snuggie
That would throw them off
Too expensive
Diet coke? Lunch
Smile at an old lady
I swear I’m nice, just mentally ill
So many pills
Overdose now
Buy them now
So much
Blood thinners
Where are blood thinners?
Need blood thinners
They make it easier to bleed out
I look so sketchy
Cough drops
What the hell do blood thinners look like?
Doesn’t matter
Not today
You’re here
It’s easy today
No I don’t need to make this clearer
I’m fat
They wouldn’t know
Is my hair weird?
Stupid wind
Could I drink fabric softener?
I’m an organ donor
We found you a donor
She was a 17 year old suicide
But luckily for you
Your kidney is soft as a baby’s bottom and resists static”
Wish I could buy a lighter
Steal a lighter
Box cutter
Utility knife, extra blade
10 large gauze pads
1 roll of gauze
Diet coke
How do you even get to 32? Whatever
She knows
She knows
She’s disgusted
It’s obvious
She knows what you’re doing
Fuck I can’t put my change back
Fuck up
Look, she’s watching
She thinks you’re stupid
She’s giving you the Posh Spice glare
Bills have to be in order
Piece of shit
Get out
Get out
Get out
Why doesn’t this bag have handles?
I look like a fucking loser
Run to that street
Text from mom asking if I’ve eaten
Don’t want to walk back this way
Am I bleeding through my jeans?
I should get sent away
I should tell my mom
I’d get drug tested
I like this
Not everyone makes it
It’s okay
Not another week
Sign says “in God we trust”
Fucking God
Isaiah loved the shit out of God
Turn it up
The sun’s coming through my bangs
It’s cold as shit
I feel like I’m in one of those walking-down-a-cold-street-hood-up-alone scenes that’s in music videos
The people in these cars are staring like there’s something to see
What? Can’t figure out my gender?
Me either bitch
Why doesn’t this bag have fucking handles?
This is it
I’m done
You just cut that lady off you inconsiderate brat
She smiled but she hates you
They all hate you
Who calls you that?
I do bitch
He never loved you
No one ever loved you
Walk through the intersection
The cars don’t even want to be near you
They think you’re ugly
How long has this been?
An hour and three minutes
Slow down
Uneven time
Van in the parking lot
Their van
Ride to a market in the back
Shut it down
Get it out
Jump bitch jump
I need a shot
A hit
A pill
If I get hospitalized I won’t pass
Stay sober
Stay here
Get out
They don’t want you
Sick of dealing with you
Whispering about you
Is that where I’d go?
Shit is that car my mom?
Thank god
Text from Lauren
Why’d I get her involved?
Fucking idiot
Book flower
Used to play all up and down this street
Fucking weak shit
You could’ve stopped this
He left
No one wants you
God just stop this
I can’t cope
I need help
You don’t deserve it
I need help
When did I get on the curb?
I can’t stand
Stop crying you bitch
How many times did we sit here?
Now I’m alone
Just go
Go with him
It’s okay
Slit your throat
You have what you need
Come back
Just let me die
Utility knife
Stab yourself in the neck
Stab bitch
They can clean up the blood somehow
Don’t let them see you
They already know
Do it now or they’ll lock you away
They’ll lock you away
They don’t want you
Mom wants therapist to do it
Therapist wants someone else
They pass you around because no one can help you
You’re dead already
You’re dead
Don’t give them hope of saving you
Disappoint again
No one will have to find you
Why can’t I get up?
Why can’t I breathe?
Help me
They can’t
Get me out
“The lucky curb”
Fucking faggot kill yourself
Get inside
You’re an embarrassment
Fucking whore
Slit your wrists
Someone see me
Someone save me
I’m not okay
I’m a liar
I’m a fake
I need you
Where are you?
Why can’t you care?
Someone see me
They all see
They see and think you’re disgusting
Get inside your fucking house you cunt
Waste of space
Text from mom asking how I am
I’m always okay
I’m always fine
Kill yourself
You know where the pills are
You have the blades
You have a belt
Or a cord
Kill yourself
Ask for help
Crying for help
Waste of time


Written by Jocelyn Ressler

Be a Hand for God

We all have those “shock” moments.  The phone rings at work.  “Hello, can I help you?”  We discuss our service/product.  The conversation leads to names, school, history and we realize that we are connected back 35 years.  We share fond memories and catch up with life.  We realize that we work around the corner from each other.

But then, the conversation takes a dark turn.   I find out that this friend lost a son eleven months and two weeks ago.  If you know me, you will know where this is going.  Yes, he committed suicide and they are facing their first anniversary and they don’t know how they will get through it.

I don’t know how God lines these life situations up.  How does someone call a random number looking for a house to rent and end up talking with someone who lost a son to suicide two years ago?  It can only be a God thing because I don’t think fate works that efficiently.  I was glad to be there for her.  I hope I can help.

I pray each day that I can be a hand for God.  I pray that my pain can help someone else to move on.

Acts 9:41

New International Version (NIV)

He took her by the hand and helped her to her feet . .