The Boy in the Photo

Trigger warning: suicide

This is definitely not the usual Charmer post. I wasn’t sure if I would write for this post because it’s a subject that has a lot of baggage for me. A friend told me that I should, that what I have to say might make a difference, so…

The first association with suicide I have is odd. My mom had a doctor with an inoperable brain tumor who committed suicide to keep his family from suffering through his illness. This was long before hospice being available and he was young and had small children.

Of course, it was a scandal because “How could he do that,” but my mom told me point blank that she already had plans in place in case something like that happened to her. I was probably 7 or 8, but she explained her views to me in a way that made sense.

That said, that isn’t really what this prompt or this post is about.

My second association with suicide is my boyfriend at 15. I’ve mentioned it before in passing but never the whole story. We had been dating about three months, which of course, is an eternity at 15. I was moving to Tucson from Colorado because my dad had been transferred. It was really hard but we had talked about him saving up to come visit and we still had family there and would be going back for visits as well.

About eight days before we were going to leave, my mom took the two of us out to lunch. We had a good time, lots of laughs and then he spent the afternoon at my house. Things were really good.

The next day was my last morning at my volunteering position. All morning I felt like something was horribly wrong. I couldn’t get rid of it, but I chalked it up to the last day there after spending four years with all of those people. Mom picked me up, we grabbed a quick lunch and ran a couple of errands to get ready for the move. She knew I was felt like something was wrong–I had had a few of these feelings before and I was generally right–so we drove past his house on the way home.

Ambulance. Police car. Neighbors out on the street. She drove me home and we tried to get in touch. There was nothing we could do but wait. Hours later it was on the news that a 15 year old boy had committed suicide.

Side note to the story: He had uncontrolled epilepsy. I never experienced a grand mal seizure while I was with him, but petit mal were a common occurrence.

There was no warning. I was devastated. On top of that, when my dad called his father, his father told mine that it was my fault because I was moving.

The next morning, his mom who lived in Wyoming, showed up at our door. This woman who had lost her son was there to make sure that I knew it wasn’t my fault. She told me about how guilty she felt because her appendix burst when she was pregnant with him and they thought it might have caused the epilepsy. She told me about how she had lost custody of the two boys because she had to work as a cocktail waitress after the divorce in order to keep them fed and in a house. She had to leave them alone a couple of times and his father sued for custody.

She told me about how the medications to control his epilepsy were doing as much harm to his brain as the seizures. And she told me that she had talked to him a day before and that he had told her that our relationship was the only thing that was good. His father had ignored her when she told him the medications were wrong. He didn’t care as long as he got to win and make her lose.

And so, my boyfriend shot himself in his living room at 15. He saw no way out. His mother was powerless, his father didn’t care and his epilepsy was destroying his brain. So, to me, there was no warning. Unfortunately the one person who had the power to help, chose not to see.

I don’t know what the solution is. Or if there even is one. Obviously a loaded gun in the house with a teenager makes it easier. But, I think he would have found a way other than that if it wasn’t available. I think communication and empathy and connecting with people helps. The problem is that we don’t always get shared the information that might help.

So, we buried him. His father still lives in the house. I don’t understand that at all. I couldn’t do it. All I have left is a few photos and memories. But, that boy still lives within me, all of the pain that his suicide caused and the sadness for what he didn’t get to bring to the world.

19 thoughts on “The Boy in the Photo

  1. I will never understand putting “winning” over a child’s well-being. Nor could I understand being able to stay in the house where someone I loved said “I can’t live anymore”

    But there is a lot I do not understand about so many.

    I’m sorry you had to endure that — but his mom was right – it wasn’t your fault, at all. But wow.

    Hugs.

    • I can’t understand it either, but apparently he is able to live with himself. I’m just sorry for how he allowed his son to suffer. Hugs ❤️

  2. There is so much I want to say… the important thing though is that I’m sorry you had to go through it. Suicide does need to be talked about and you did an amazing job on this post.

    • Thank you. Although I wish it hadn’t happened, I know that the experience has changed me in positive ways. I know that they may not be there tomorrow and I should tell them how I feel today.

      I just hope we can open up the dialog and help people ❤️

  3. Thank you for you sharing this. Two years ago my partner attempted suicide. Thankfully, he failed but spent 3 weeks in a mental health hospital which turned out to be the best thing. For the five years prior to that I looked for help for him and was turned down at every request. Mental health issues are not taken seriously until something bad happens. It shouldn’t take that to get help.

    • It is so true. I’m glad he was able to get help. It’s good to hear that sometimes things work out. I’m sorry it had to come to to that though. ❤️

  4. Suicide is a terrible thing, but the feeling like it is your only option has to be worse. That father acted in a selfish and evil way. And then to try and foist blame on you!! Beyond terrible. I’m sorry you went through that.

  5. Heart breaking read. I remember a few weeks ago u mentioned him and I wondered about the story. TY for linking up SB4MH – this is a topic which is hidden away with regards to discussion. The more we tell our tales the easier it will become to be able to support others. – Well I do hope x

  6. This is a big shadow for a 15 year old to carry. I’m very glad you were able to tell the story and share it.

    The indifference of his father is really sad to read.

    melody xx

  7. Oh, Charmer. This is so sad. This must have been a very difficult thing for someone so young. I want to say “how dare he” about the boy’s father, but I suppose he was feeling guilt and sorrow and looking to apportion blame in every direction.
    Thank you for sharing this 🌷

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