By Joshua Monen
In this episode of the Battle Ground Buzz Online Radio Show I interview Mary Jadwisiak, a suicide prevention trainer in Battle Ground. If you get my weekly newsletter you know I talked about the recent suicides in our community and was wrestling with the idea of even covering these tragedies on the Buzz. I decided it was better to talk about this than to ignore it.
So if you want to listen to the interview with Mary about suicide prevention you can scroll all the way down to the bottom and hit the play button. And below you’ll find a few show notes as well as a copy of my email newsletter I sent on Jan 17, 2012 that relates to this. This is not an easy thing to talk about but I think it’s important.
A copy of my email newsletter I sent on Jan 17, 2012:
Today as I sat down to write this newsletter I wrestled with a question, “Should I talk about the recent suicide of BGHS student David Suetta or not?” One school of thought says to not talk about this sort of thing because it’s hard enough on the families and talking about it could encourage other kids to do the same horrible act.
The other side says to cover these stories because it will bring awareness and hopefully help shed light on what causes these kind of tragedies. Then we can also provide resources for those who struggle with things like bullies, depression and suicidal thoughts.
Obviously, I decided to talk about it…at least with you (I haven’t decided if I’m going to post something on BattleGroundBuzz.com yet).
I’ll be honest. It’s much easier to avoid painful stories like these and instead only cover the “good news” in our town. I’ve even had other hyperlocal news owners encourage me to only cover the good news because they say businesses would rather associate with those type of sites and would be more likely to advertise with you.
But I think there are more important things to think about then, “Will this lead to more advertising dollars or not?”
I think a better question would be, “Will this benefit the people or not?”
And I believe talking about the hard stuff is the first step on the road to healing. When we ignore problems and try to stuff them under the rug they only get worse.
I think as a community we have a responsibility to our youth. Now, I’m not blaming the citizens of Battle Ground for not doing enough. This is not a guilt trip but rather a reminder. A reminder that life is fragile. It can be gone in a blink of an eye. And sometimes, as with David’s story, life can end too soon.
Death never feels right. It doesn’t matter if someone is young or old, when people die it still feels like they were taken from us. But when someone dies before they even graduate high school it feels even worse…and we can’t help but to ask “Why?”
Why did he do it?
Why does anyone do it?
As someone who used to struggle with clinical depression and other mental disorders I’ll admit, “I’ve had suicidal thoughts myself.” Now, I know people might look at me weird and say, “Josh, I would never think that about you.”
And then when I tell them I also used to have a $400 a day cocaine habit that almost killed me I also get the, “I never would have thought…” remark.
But can I say something about that? Something that I believe could lead to a breakthrough in the area of suicide prevention? Not “The Answer” or “The Cure” but just one little idea that I think would be helpful.
That idea is this: don’t judge a book by it’s cover…for good or bad.
We hear this cliche usually in regards to not judging a person because they may look like a loser or a weirdo. But the flip side is also true…don’t judge a person because they look like they have it all together…inside they may be dying.
Some of the most troubled people in the world look the most successful. Isn’t it “ironic” that we read in the news, “They were popular, good looking, smart…and then they took their own life”?
Yes, it’s shocking. But I believe our “shock” is also a sign we naturally judge people by their outward appearance instead of getting to know who they really are.
I don’t have all (or even a few) of the answers. I’m like you, I wonder why. But as someone who has been to a very dark place (and by God’s grace, made it to the other side), I can’t help but share what’s on my heart.
So please, if you want to help consider getting to know people beyond what your eyes can see. Ask questions that reveal where a person is at. Be vulnerable with them and let them know you’re a safe person to talk to. Don’t be quick to try and “fix” them but instead love them where they are.
My heart aches for David’s family and friends left behind. I heard he has two sisters and a younger brother. I can’t even imagine what they’re going through right now. I hold back tears right now as I write this and I just pray our community can learn from this tragedy and prevent this from happening again.
Please pray for those left behind.