A year ago, my family lost our 18-year-old daughter Lane to her mental illness when she died by suicide. Since then, I have come to know that we were not alone in our struggle with her disease. We are no longer alone in our pain at having lost a daughter, son, brother, sister, spouse, parent or friend to this illness.
In this terrible year, I have come to know too many families in the Kansas City area who can lay claim to the same horror mine came to know.
In our pain and guilt, we rehash every minute of Lane’s last hour, week, month and year in an attempt to understand this disease and how it came to claim our child’s life and future. It’s what parents like us do.
How many teens have we lost to suicide in just the last few months? Is it eight or 10? I don’t want to count, because every single one is a singular tragedy and each is one too many.
As we examine that time, we’ve come to understand that mental illness is uniquely difficult to navigate because it is not spoken of. It is particularly dangerous for teens because in those delicate adolescent years they are more sensitive to the fact that mental illness is not socially acceptable. For fear of being different, they don’t tell even their most trusted confidants what they’re dealing with and what’s overwhelming them.
That inability to open up becomes the true danger of this disease. These kids, these children who are struggling to cope every day, need the care and support of others to help ensure that they are not lost. They need to know that they aren’t alone, that they aren’t outcast and that they are not…