Thursday, March 23, 2006

Explaining the Unexplainable

Something devastating happened after the softball club prizegiving on Saturday night.

A young man...18 years old next month....took his own life by hanging himself from a tree in the neighbour's back yard. A six year old found him. From what I've heard he attended a party after the prizegiving....and he was going around saying goodbye to people. Everyone thought he was just being silly...noone took him seriously. And why would they? Who would suspect that such a tragedy was about to occur?

Obviously those he left behind are numb with grief and questioning the why's and wherefores of his actions. As is usual in so many cases of suicide, noone is ever going to find out the reason. I have read so many tributes to him...and from all accounts he was a smiling, laughing teenager that seem to make it his business to keep his friends happy and smiling. It makes no sense at all.

The college students were informed about this former pupil when they returned to school on Tuesday. Alice had telephoned on Monday afternoon with the news and she spoke to Cameron first, asking him if he knew of this boy. Alice's daughter (16) has been in Australia for the past 3 weeks and received the news via text from one of her friends. From that moment on she was texting her mother saying she wanted to come home straight away.

Cameron didn't know him but I soon discovered that Ryan, although not close to this young man, did indeed know him through association with another acquiantance.

My youngest son has been affected by this more than I realised. He's been distracted in class, is finding himself staring off into the distance thinking about it...and he refuses to go back to see the school counsellor. He said "I didn't even know him that well, how can I be part of those that are grieving for him?" Tuesday night we had a very lengthy talk about suicide and how I imagined people that attempt it, or accomplish it must feel at that time of their lives.

How can I explain something I don't understand myself? How can I help him try to come to terms with something that we, as adults, can't come to terms with ourselves? I talked to him about how there were so many things to look forward to at such a young age....his first pay check....learning to drive....his first legal alcoholic drink....his 21st birthday party. I avoided going so far as to speak of getting married and becoming a father...that would have seemed so far out of reach in his mind at his age I felt.

My ex husband has another view, and I admit that I don't disagree with some of what he said. He dropped off a couple of friends at an evening tribute that was held last night...he said there were kids all over the place...all crying. His first thought was "Look at what you've done to these people. How could you do this to them?".

There is no politically correct way to talk about teenage suicide...there is no way to soften the catastrophic blow. I can't even find the words to describe how deeply I feel for his parents. I can't possibly imagine what they must be going through. The other night as I sat here and spoke with Ryan, I had a fleeting jolt of how I would feel if he was taken away from me...it took all I had to stay put and not run off to the bathroom to vomit. I would be inconsolable.

The funeral was held this morning and I was unable to go but Ryan went along with friends. Fortunately, Alice was in attendance with her daughter and she was able to keep an eye out for Ryan....she told me later that he spent most of the service with his head in his hands. A group of the young man's team mates (rugby and softball) performed a haka outside the church in his honour. I can imagine it would have been a very emotional display. There were at least three of his previous teachers at the funeral that had travelled from other parts of the country to be there.

If he could see the pain he had caused others, and the amount of people that loved and cared for him while he was still on this earth, would it have made a difference to him? It scares me to think that no matter how much love, support and friendship we can give someone, they still may not feel that they're worthy of sticking around to grow old with their peers.

What a terrible waste of a life.
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