There was another obituary of a young person in the newspaper today. Often I see those sad columns and suspect that suicide was the cause. This one actually stated that “in the end he gave up and took his own life.” The tears started to well up in my eyes just as they do every time my teenage daughter comes home and says that someone at school attempted or succeeded at suicide. It hits too close to home.
One night, when my husband was out of town, I had the sudden, urgent thought that I should check on my son, then 16. His door was locked and he didn’t answer—not a good sign. I hurriedly found a long nail and tripped the lock to find him with a noose around his neck dangling from the top post of his bunk bed. As I think of it now, I have no idea how I got him down as he is much taller and heavier than I. Blessedly, I found him before it was too late.
As so many young people do, he was struggling with self-doubt, with sin, with depression, and with guilt. He had overheard a conversation earlier in the evening between his dad and me on the phone. He thought my tears of frustration during the call were due to his behavior, although they actually had little to do with him. He didn’t want to hurt people any more. He had lost hope.
As I cradled this son in my arms and told him how much I loved him, he just kept saying, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
Since then, his dad and I, his siblings, wonderful priesthood leaders, and inspired adult friends have encouraged him along the rocky path of repentance. My husband and I offered a safe environment, constant encouragement and unconditional love. I saw a new side of my husband as he cemented a bond with our son. We helped him up each time he fell and took special care not to judge. His older siblings included him in their family activities and became involved in some of the details of his life. We confidentially informed carefully selected mentors of the things that had been happening. They offered invaluable help during pivotal times and encouraged specific activities that promoted self-discipline and released pent-up energy. Priesthood leaders inspired confidence and hope through their compassion and encouragement. We all prayed and fasted and worshiped in the temple. There were many setbacks, but we all learned that forgiveness is not a one-time occurrence.
As he applied the atonement he learned to know his Savior, and our amazing son emerged from the angry, lost young man that had lived in our home. It was a difficult path for all of us as he struggled, and there were many setbacks, but we knew that in the end it would be worth it.
Now, because he has battled Satan and worked hard to overcome, he bears strong witness of Jesus Christ. He has grown to be grateful for his difficult path. He knows that it has made him strong and facilitated his precious relationship with his Savior.
I treasure all of my children, but I always remember how close I came to losing this son, who makes me laugh and sees inside my heart.
I will always cry as I hear of children who leave this world too soon at their own hand. It is such a waste. As I have an inkling of how their parents’ hearts are broken, I always offer a prayer for their comfort and for their child’s ultimate rescue, and I thank my Father for allowing me to help in the rescue of my precious son.