The oldest son of my husband’s friend has committed suicide. We are all still in shock yet I feel compelled to talk with you.
Let’s talk about teen suicide because if it can happen to this good family, it can certainly happen to my family and it can happen to your family.
I never met the kid or the father yet somehow I feel so connected to them. My husband, Scott, has spoken to his friend off and on through the years. Ergun was a real comfort to us when we were going through troubles with our oldest son. We knew he was praying for us and gave Scott some very good spiritual advice.
They had reconnected through Facebook several years ago. The two were able to catch up on life after high school where they were good friends. Ergun was very busy with his life, Scott with his, but they have from time to time chatted.
We thought that when we traveled through Texas we would stop and see Ergun and his family. Yet, as fate would have it, the Caners were on the move as well. Scott and I thought that once everything settled down we could go for a visit and introduce our boys to Ergun’s. They are all about the same age.
Ergun, and his wife, Jill’s son, Braxton, took his life recently. The boy was only 15 years old. Ergun’s last name is Caner, as in former dean of the Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary and Graduate School of Liberty University.
That Ergun Caner.
That 15 year old boy.
What Can I Do
Just writing that sends chills down my spine. Only. Fifteen.
He was just a baby.
I asked my blogging friends if any of them had ever written about suicide or about teens thinking about, anything that I could share with my readers. I didn’t hear a peep. Not a word.
Is that because we simply cannot fathom the unthinkable? Is it because we simply have no words? I mean, what do you say? How do you say it? Should I say anything at all?
I have a platform and, with the help of God Almighty, I must use it.
First, I must learn what to say to the grieving parents. I remember when my birth mother passed, then my foster-mother, and finally, my foster-father. Each time people meant well but did, and said, some really hurtful things.
Death makes us clumsy and a little self-centered. No one wants to die, we all know that we do. When it happens to people we know we almost feel like our number will soon be called. The last thing I wanted to do was say something hurtful, stupid, even crass.
What do you not say to a grieving parent?
- Facebook page: What NOT to say to a grieving parent
- StillStandingMag: 6 Things To Never Say To A Bereaved Parent
All I can at this point is, I am so very, very sorry. Please accept my condolences.
What You Can Do
I urge you to please talk to your kids about suicide, today. Now. I have yet to meet someone who hasn’t contemplated it at least once in their lifetimes. Even kids as young as 10 think about taking their lives and boys are more like than girls. There are a few resources to help you know what to say, and when, about suicide:
But the best resource I came across is from the Huffington Post. Christy Esposito-Smythers article, “What Do I Do If My Teen Is Thinking About Suicide,” gives 8 steps on what to do if your child talks about suicide or depression.
Whatever you do, please do not think this can’t happen to you or your children, or never could, because you have a “good Christian” family. Braxton Caner had been raised in the Church, had been baptized and received Jesus Christ as his savior, his father is a well known theologian.
If it can happen to the Caners it most certainly could happen to you, too. It could even happen to someone who seemingly has it all together and things are going well.
Now, go hug your kids.
Look them in the eyes and tell them that no matter what, you will always love them and nothing can stop you from loving them. Tell them that there is nothing you can’t get through together.
Then pray over them. Ask God to bless them and protect them from Satan’s schemes. Let your child hear your words as you pray them because they need to know you mean every single word. They need to hear and see your faith in action. They need to know, and be reminded, that you will be with them every step of the way as they grow up and as long as they are alive.
Please pray for Ergun and Jill Caner, Drake, too. May God hold them in his protective arms through this most difficult of days. Amen.
[note]A fund has been established to train counselors in suicide prevention in Braxton’s name at Brewton-Parker College, P.O. Box 197, Mount Vernon, GA 30445. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.[/note]