Teens & Young
Dealing with Depression, Sharing, Getting Help
is deeply loved...
Jeremy did not have to
Jeremy had a young life full of promise. The
caring way in which he helped others and the
love expressed for him justified life. No matter how depressed, no matter
how low his self esteem, Jeremy had so much to live for.
His plan was coming
together. As a member of the Union Scholars Programs, he could take an
extra course during the fall and spring trimesters, making up for the
winter trimester away competing as a freestyle skier. He would graduate in
four years. His realistic goal was to compete in the the 2006 Winter
Olympic Games. Whether he did well or not at the Olympics, his plan was to
put skiing aside after that one Olympic try and study medicine. He was
developing an interest in Radiology.
What Jeremy lacked
was the experience and, from that, the wisdom to understand that life presents
a series of setbacks and problems - each of which is a challenge that can be
overcome but sometimes require help from others. Regardless of the challenges, life goes on and the experience
provides the ability to meet and surmount the next challenge.
Accomplishment, whether grand or small, provides the basis of a rewarding
and satisfying life.
Jeremy always was there for his peers in their time of need. He was
accustomed to helping others and felt confident in his ability to do so
effectively. He tried to help himself through his own problem with
depression - tried to go it alone...didn't let anyone know...wouldn't share
his needs. Jeremy's fatal mistake...he didn't give himself a chance for a
perhaps better tomorrow.
"Now everyone must have some thought
†That's going to pull them through, somehow."
Depression and Suicide
is not a luxury we can waste or take for granted. This is an issue I
battle with every day. My misery and hopelessness will eat away at me,
until I donít want to feel anymore. I want to be numb to everything
around me b/c I am inexplicably unsatisfied with myself and my life. I
feel like every decision I make is the wrong one, and I canít seem to
get anything to go the way I wish it would. In my desperate attempts to
ease my suffering, the only thought going through my head is that there is
no reason for me to breathe anymore. I have attempted to take my life
numerous times, and I couldnít even do that right. I have been to hell
and back with the decisions Iíve made to ease my depression. This
disease is something that is not curable, only manageableÖ. And most of
the time I feel it isnít even that. I turned everywhere but the right
place. I allow things to eat away at me. I thought I could cure myself,
but I was ultimately left with the same feelingÖ hopelessness. Maybe we
all have different reasons for suicideÖ. but they seem to stem from the
same feelingÖ. hopelessness. This word may seem redundant, but thatís
the only way to really describe depression. It is how you chose to deal
with it that is the solution. You must make the decision to live; you are
the only one in control of your life.
was oblivious to anyoneís feelings around me. I didnít think of the
ripple affect that one personís life can have on people. After hearing
about Jeremyís death, I feel as if I went into an endless anxiety
attack. I have felt the pain and sadness he experiencedÖ the hopeless of
my life. Then I began reading the letters of condolence. I saw the
magnitude that one personís life can have on so many people. These
condolences seemed endless. I just wanted to shut down and sleep forever.
Instead, I chose to deal with my disease, come to grips with it. His death
shook me out of my depressive coma b/c I realized that so many people
truly care. Instead of taking matters into my own hands, I realized that
reaching out for help will not only better my situation, but help all of
the people in my life. We were born to endure both pain and happiness.
Itís a part of life, of being human. We must be willing to endure all
aspects of life to find our balance. We have to live in today, make the
most of every situation. Most importantly, itís okay to ask for help, we
cannot handle everything by ourselves. We must face life and deal with it,
instead of allowing it to consume us. Jeremyís death should not be in
vain. We can learn from this. We can learn how to deal with our problems.
We may even learn that they arenít as big as we see them. We must have
hope, find hope. We can choose to live in pain and desperation, or we can
choose to live. We must ask for help before itís too late. Underneath
the veneer we personify is true pain, we suffer from and incurable
disease. We must remember that although it isnít curable, it is
treatable. Through medication and therapy, we can live normal lives. I
implore anyone with feelings of hopelessness to expose your feelings to
someone. Itís cathartic to express your feelings, believe me, I know.
The feeling of hopelessness is temporary and suicide is not the answer. It
doesnít solve problems and it creates more for the people around you.
Itís a permanent solution to a temporary problem. This is a serious
disease and your feelings are real, and they must be taken seriously. If
you believe there is no one that you can talk to that can help, there are
other places to get it. 1-800-262-HELP is a hotline that is there 24/7
that you can call wand talk to someone about your feelings, when you do
this, you begin to face your problems, not push them away. Remember this,
when you take your life, you leave the people that love you with feelings
of confusion, anger, and sadness. Is that the way you want people to
remember and feel about you? You
may think you are sick and defective in a life you cannot change, but I am
living proof that asking for help does work. You just have to be willing
to work and be patient, b/c the healing process takes time, but itís
"To every thing
there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die..."
We didn't ask to be born;
we shouldn't ask to die.
excerpted from "Hey,
Kid: Letters From A Dad"
by Alan Packer
Integrity House, Blowing
compelled to write to you about a very hard subjectósuicide....
suicide is the ultimate selfishness. The horrible part is that the person
considering suicide is so wrapped up in his or her own self that he or she
cannot see beyond their pain. (I am not talking about those near death or
in great physical pain from a fatal disease.) Blinding emotional pain is
also blind to the pain it causes to those who love that person....
ever hit a time in your life where you are even considering suicide, I
want you to remember those who love you. I want you to remember yourself
as a happy eight-year-old who might have lost [a] father. I want you to
remember the wonderful years we have had since then. These are the things
that help you see through the haze of pain.
sounds overly simple, but I believe that anyone can endure. For anyone
considering suicide, the hard part is believing that you can live with the
pain. The hardest part is doing the work it takes to survive. ...therapy
[can be] very difficult. Your pain may be no greater than another's.... We
all help each other...[find] answers...thought unanswerable.
Love, Dad [Alan Packer]
when I stood myself beside him, I never though I was
it seems he stopped his singing in the middle of his
Jackson Brown: "Song for Adam", 1972
Jeremy's Legacy &
(What Could Have Been Done)
Jeremy was loved intensely. He is missed immensely. He left a hole in
many lives that can not be filled [see Emails].
His family is devastated by his loss and struggling desperately to accept
what senselessly has happened.
The small church,
where Jeremy had been baptized and later attended Sunday School, was
overwhelmed and overflowed into the churchyard. The service was incredibly
moving. [see Eulogies] His grave in Oak Hill
Cemetery at Nyack, NY, is simply marked:
4 July 1983 - 29 April 2002
AFTER THE FUNERAL
But it didn't end
with Jeremy's burial, as it mercifully should have. There was a home without Jeremy - his
room with his books, ski videos, trophies and awards, his pictures
throughout the house, bits and pieces of him everywhere. Dante, his
confused Golden Retriever - " Where was Jeremy?"
Of course, there
followed emotional and painful memorial services both at his high school,
The Dwight-Englewood School, and Union College. Then there was his room at
Union to pack up and his car to drive home. His room was not one of a person about to end his
life. It was a cheerful, comfortable, well appointed room - rather neat and
organized. His posters of skiing and anime gave the room Jeremy's personality.
There was the desk where he wrote his last letter and the loft bed where
he died. His presence in the room was palpable. Around us lay his stuff - his
CDs, his DVDs, his books and notes, his clothing, his TV and sound system,
his play station, his skis, his lacrosse stick...everything that defined
him. The pain of folding his cloths, gathering the personal bits and
favorite things that live in every desk drawer, carrying the boxes down to
the cars, leaving a room empty and devoid of
his persona. This was every bit a sad as burying Jeremy two weeks before.
Driving his car home with his graduation tassel swinging from the
rear-view mirror was beyond description.
Yes, Jeremy's body
had come back to be buried - but he really had not come home. Moving his
stuff back into his room brought him home - brought him home
hard...finally...with finality. It will take a long time to go through his
things, organizing this or that the way he would have. But life must move
on...must move on without Jeremy...
I truly believe that
had Jeremy been in a frame of mind to consider the lasting consequences of
his suicide, he could not have made it happen. His last letter mentions
struggling with long-term depression and "low self esteem" despite by his obvious
academic, social, and athletic successes. His unfortunate ending
to his last letter "Good-By cruel world!" was not so much
a statement as it was a prophesy. For his brother, his mother, and myself, it is now a very cruel world for those
of us who must deal with Jeremy's loss now and for the rest of our lives.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Sadly, Jeremy's loss
could have been prevented. Nobody knew he was depressed - seriously
depressed. Any out-reach from him would have helped. There are many avenues to seek
help. A single phone call to his parents in that dark hour would have
brought them to his side, helped him work things out, enabled professional guidance
and assistance, perhaps turned his life around. He never gave himself nor
that chance. He tragically deprived himself that critical opportunity to
see that life is definitely and inarguably worth living...
If you are still with
me at this point, this message perhaps speaks to you. Teenagers and young adults are loved
very, very much by family and friends. Just because parents send teens off to
college, doesn't mean they should not or can not come home. They are
always welcome at home --- as family, not visitors. As Robert
Frost wryly said: "Home is the place
where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in..."
Jeremy's world-wide competition prepared him well for college living. Yet,
he was always welcome and loved at home. In times of need, young adults
need to talk to family, perhaps a therapist...those caring individuals
who can provide support and love and a sense of true reality. Jeremy was
an ultimate competitor headed for the Olympics. However, he failed to
understand that every success in the game of life requires team effort as
Lots of kids feel empty or lonely or sad every day
but don't know why. Depression can happen to anyone --- regardless of gender, intelligence
or socioeconomic status --- and that, with help, they can get through it.
Up to 8% of American teenagers suffer from major depression; girls are
twice as susceptible as boys. According to a 1999 survey, about 20% of
high school students have seriously considered suicide. And every year,
about eight to 11 in every 100,000 teens do take their own lives---as many
as those who die from all other natural causes combined.
need not be constant emotional pain. Depression is a
treatable biological disease
characterized by changes in brain chemistry. Most
important of all, teens should permit and seek a course of therapy from a qualified professional.
Most teens respond to treatment with the medications. Also, a professional
can introduce discussing and learning
ways to deal with stress and sadness, such as changing unrealistic or
highly negative ways of thinking, which can be as effective as medication.
WHAT ABOUT YOU?
If you are sad...if you have lost joy in what you used to like best...share your feelings and look in the obvious places for the
help and the love that is always there for you. Depression can not be
handled alone! Depression is medically manageable, often just
by talking it through with a therapist. Indeed, the most effect help is from
those with some life experience, such as your parents, or professional
training. So, reach out to your parents because every
parent loves their kid and wants their children to enjoy the rewards of
should promise themselves that they will
talk to a parent "in person" before attempting suicide. Your problems will never burden your
parents because there is always hope and love, but
checking out of life will haunt and torture them forever.
The loss and the
pain that teen suicide leaves behind is unbearable --- forever unbearable. Had he
thought clearly, Jeremy would not have wished to leave behind a much crueler
world. Please, let there be no more tragic, self-inflicted, teen deaths like Jeremy.
4 June 2002
"Suicide is not a victimless
Those left behind suffer forever."
Sound Track: Moby - Rushing