JT Waters - Forever in our Hearts. Jan. 13th 2000 - Apr. 19th 2018
"It's frightening how one day, one moment, one event, can change your life completely." unknown
On April 19, 2018, that one moment happened to me and my family. I lost my 18 year old son, JT, to suicide. It has been almost a year, and though my brain knows he is gone, my heart will never accept that fact. I will spend the rest of my life never knowing why he chose to take his own life and I have beaten myself black and blue wondering what I missed or could have done differently, because if love could have held him here, JT would still be by my side. I wake up each day reminding myself that my wonderful, incredible son is no longer here.
JT was an A student, one of the top 10 percent in his class. He was graduating high school in less than two months and getting ready to start college on full scholarships. The world was at his fingertips and he appeared to be ready to take it on full force, but Pain can be hidden. It can be masked by a beautiful smile or a joke. There may never be a sign that someone you love is hurting so much deep inside that they just want it to end and there are those special ones that don't know how to express or communicate their feelings of hopelessness or despair no matter the support network they have.
According to the American foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the US. That rate is much higher in teens and young adults ages 15 to 24. The number raises exponentially for teens and young adults who have been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome or High Functioning Autism.
My son had Asperger's Syndrome. He was amazing, incredibly intelligent, funny, always smiling and full of love. That incredible mind that set him apart from everyone else. That mind that worked on such a high level and made him such a special person wasn't equipped to send the signals of warning he needed to help save himself or to warn his family, counselors, and close friends that things had taken such a dramatic turn so quickly. For teens not on the spectrum, change can be daunting, for a child who needs order and set organization, change can be something that sets them over the edge and so many changes were happening for my son-- high school graduation, college, leaving the close circle of friends he had for so many years-- The whys and what ifs will haunt me the rest of my life.
Our society has a problem, it is broken in such a fundamental way. Mental health and suicide is stigmatized. We need to talk about it, bring the pain out in the open, listen to those that are hurting and educate ourselves to understand how to help those that are suffering. Programs need to be set up in our schools to help our children understand coping measures. Teachers, counselors, and administrators need training in understanding those with special needs. Parents, teach your children not to be the mean kid, the bully, the one that takes enjoyment from hurting others. Suicide is not a joke and we are losing to many to its darkness.