Teens & Young Adults: 
Dealing with Depression, Sharing, Getting Help

 

Jeremy did not have to die

Depression & Suicide
by Jenna

Suicide
by Alan Packer

 

Jeremy's Legacy &
Missed Opportunity

 
 

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HELPFUL LINKS

"Everyone is deeply loved...

   It's just not always obvious."

                            Anonymous

 

Jeremy did not have to die! 

          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.

     Yet, 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."

 Jackson Brown: "Rock Me on the Water", 1972

 

On Depression and Suicide 

By Jenna

3 May 2002

Life 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.

I 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 worth it.

 

"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..."

                                                                       Ecclesiastes

We didn't ask to be born; we shouldn't ask to die.

 

Suicide

excerpted from "Hey, Kid: Letters From A Dad"

by Alan Packer

Integrity House, Blowing Rock, NC

Hey, Kid,

      I feel compelled to write to you about a very hard subjectósuicide.... 

      To me, 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....

      If you 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.

      This 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]

 

"And when I stood myself beside him, I never though I was as strong 

Still it seems he stopped his singing in the middle of his song."

                                                              Jackson Brown: "Song for Adam", 1972

 

Jeremy's Legacy & Missed Opportunity 
(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:

Jeremy April 
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 his family 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 well. 

 

DEPRESSION IS COMMON

     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.

     ife 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 life. Teens 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.

Ernie April
4 June 2002

 

"Suicide is not a victimless crime.

Those left behind suffer forever."

 

Sound Track: Moby - Rushing