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Mental health, suicide and faith (looong)

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  • Mental health, suicide and faith (looong)

    Roughly six weeks ago our sweet, kind, and gentle 22-year-old son attempted suicide. Sometime before 8:00 am on a Wednesday on his way to work he stopped his car, walked up to, and jumped from a 30 plus foot tall overpass onto one of the busiest highways in north America.

    We don’t really know the details of the incident, except that he miraculously was not hit by a car as he hit the pavement during rush hour. Mostly what I remember of that morning is two police officers walking up my driveway just as I exited my front door to head to work. What they said is a blur, but I can distinctly recall asking to sit down for a minute.

    At some point later that morning my wife and I headed to one of the best trauma hospitals in north America. We found him in the ER being prepped for surgery. The first was to repair his shattered lower back: L1 to L5 were crushed and they had to assess what damage may have occurred to the nerve endings. The surgery was 4 plus hours. With pins and plates, they told us they “built a brace in his back, but we would not know whether he could walk again.”

    Stable enough after the first surgery, they rolled him over and the orthopedic team went to work on his legs for another 4 plus hours. Both ankles were shattered. His right leg suffered an open tibial fracture (compound—the bone broke through the skin). They pieced it back together and secured it with an external fixator (pins sticking out of his tibia and heal attached to rods). The heal on the left foot was rebuilt and hooked up to a pump to drain the blood (eventually a plastic surgery team took a skin graft from his thigh to rebuild the heal and help make it look mostly normal).

    He then stayed in critical care in an induced coma. After many days, he was extubated and transferred to the ICU. Over a four-week period my son endured more than twenty hours of surgery. We now have a long wait before mobility rehab can begin in earnest. It can’t start for many weeks until his legs and ankles, now held together with pins and rods, can bear weight, and his broken ribs and cracked pelvis heal.

    We are very hopeful because he is young and strong and is moving his legs and can even roll over. The physio team has been aggressive and optimistic. He shimmies from his bed with the use of a board into a wheelchair mostly on his own. In recent days the catheter has been removed. There was a slight curve learning to control his bowel movements and his muscles re-learning to void his bladder properly. Yesterday the physio team taught him how to scoot onto a commode.

    His recovery has been miraculous. Medical knowledge and the expertise with which he has been treated is incredible. Regardless, there are still lingering questions.

    If anyone is willing, please tell me how much of the blame for my son’s suicide attempt belongs to me and his mother, who has barely left his bedside? How much blame do we place on the church for what occurred—while going through all of this we sent his younger brother on a mission to French speaking west Africa.

    One of the hardest phone calls I had to make was to a young woman with which he had gone on three dates, the most recent happened only two days before his suicide attempt. She was devastated and asked what she could’ve done differently. She is a nurse. How could she not see the signs?

    For context, my son is a good athlete. He was named athlete of the year his senior year of high school (best athlete in the school). He was the starting quarterback on the football team and was a point guard on the basketball team that won three consecutive regional championships. He was also a great fly-half on the rugby team.

    He was on the leadership counsel in his high school. They don’t have class presidents, but rather the teachers choose ten to twelve of the best students in the school to lead out and make decisions on behalf of the student body. He was nearly a straight A student and got into BYU to study mechanical engineering.

    He is a returned missionary. He came home early after a year and a half when the suicidal ideation he had suffered with in high school returned. He vanished for twelve hours before eventually returning to his apartment. A police officer who was tasked with regularly driving by the apartment discovered him asleep in his bed. At that time, I thought that was the longest twelve hours of my life.

    Again, please tell me who or what institution or religious teaching, or messaging is to blame for this rollercoaster we have been on these past several years? Who is to blame because I had to fly to Utah last April, rent an SUV, pack up all his earthly belongings and bring him and his dog home. He hadn’t left his apartment in Provo for three days. When we got home, he didn’t get out of bed for four weeks.

    Baseline Mental health issues are physiological and defy logic, and even causal explanation. They are a condition of mortality. And it sucks being so close to someone dealing with such despair and disruption.
    Last edited by tooblue; 11-23-2022, 08:26 AM.

  • #2
    I have no words that adequately express my sorrow for what you're going through. I can say, with considerable conviction, that neither you nor your wife can or should be blamed. I hope your son can receive treatment for his psychiatric maladies as effective as those he's getting for his physical ones.


    • #3
      PAC, as always, has said it more eloquently than I can, but I'm so sorry.
      "I think it was King Benjamin who said 'you sorry ass shitbags who have no skills that the market values also have an obligation to have the attitude that if one day you do in fact win the PowerBall Lottery that you will then impart of your substance to those without.'"
      - Goatnapper'96


      • #4
        I'm in tears, TB. So sorry to hear this. So tragic. I am praying for you, your wife, and your family.

        Give 'em Hell, Cougars!!!

        For all this His anger is not turned away, but His hand is stretched out still.

        Not long ago an obituary appeared in the Salt Lake Tribune that said the recently departed had "died doing what he enjoyed most—watching BYU lose."


        • #5
          That's tough. Very sorry to hear this. I don't see how you could even try to lay blame. We look for the why, but it's a very personal battle your son fights. I hope for a really good recovery. He sounds like an amazing person.


          • #6
            Oh man. That is heartbreaking. I have no words.
            "There is no creature more arrogant than a self-righteous libertarian on the web, am I right? Those folks are just intolerable."
            "It's no secret that the great American pastime is no longer baseball. Now it's sanctimony." -- Guy Periwinkle, The Nix.
            "Juilliardk N I ibuprofen Hyu I U unhurt u" - creekster


            • #7
              I am so sorry Tooblue. My thoughts tonight are close to you and your son. Your struggles are not unique.
              " pointy-headed autopsy nerd. Do you think it's possible for you to post without using words like "hilarious," "absurd," "canard," and "truther"? Your bare assertions do not make it so. Maybe your reasoning is too stunted and your vocabulary is too limited to go without these epithets."
              "You are an intemperate, unscientific poster who makes light of very serious matters.”
              - SeattleUte


              • #8
                I don't know how anyone could see the signs because he sounds like an awesome kid. Heartbreaking, indeed.
                "If there is one thing I am, it's always right." -Ted Nugent.
                "I honestly believe saying someone is a smart lawyer is damning with faint praise. The smartest people become engineers and scientists." -SU.
                "Yet I still see wisdom in that which Uncle Ted posts." -creek.
                GIVE 'EM HELL, BRIGHAM!


                • #9
                  Well wishes to your son in his recovery. Who's to blame? I'd blame social media - and the look at me generation. At least that's how I feel - the whole world acts like they're special and need to be recognized. If your son isn't on pot - maybe that can help him in the future. Take the edge off this sucky world.

                  When poet puts pen to paper imagination breathes life, finding hearth and home.
                  -Mid Summer's Night Dream


                  • #10

                    my biggest fear


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by clackamascoug View Post
                      Well wishes to your son in his recovery. Who's to blame? I'd blame social media - and the look at me generation. At least that's how I feel - the whole world acts like they're special and need to be recognized. If your son isn't on pot - maybe that can help him in the future. Take the edge off this sucky world.
                      Mental illness is a physical illness. Chemical imbalances, mis-wired neurons, malformed structures in the brain are all physical causes of mental and emotional problems Social media, social pressure, substance abuse, and bad things happening to someone may exacerbate it, but depression and suicide have been around a lot longer than this generation. Because it Is an illness. People who haven’t experienced it first hand can’t empathize or comprehend, so we try to rationalize through the lenses of our experience, and try place blame on external influences.

                      Tooblue, I’m so sorry to for your son. I hope he can recover emotionally and physically. He’s lucky to have supportive and understanding parents like yourself.


                      • #12
                        That’s heart breaking to read. I’m sure you are not at all responsible. Prayers for you and your son and family.
                        "Discipleship is not a spectator sport. We cannot expect to experience the blessing of faith by standing inactive on the sidelines any more than we can experience the benefits of health by sitting on a sofa watching sporting events on television and giving advice to the athletes. And yet for some, “spectator discipleship” is a preferred if not primary way of worshipping." -Pres. Uchtdorf


                        • #13
                          I am so sorry, tooblue. Like Piney, this has been my biggest fear as a parent for years. Reading your account made my heart clench. Bless you and your son and your family as you go through this.


                          • #14
                            That's rough tooblue, I hope your son can heal on the outside along with the inside and I hope you and your wife can find some comfort. It's hard to know what people are going through, I'm very claustrophobic and when I'm in an elevator, even though I know I'm safe, it's still a minute or two of hell for me. I wonder if people with a mental health problem are going through the same thing except they can't get off the elevator, life just hits them with irrational fears that won't go away. He must be a tough kid to survive 30 foot fall.


                            • #15
                              Tooblue, that is devastating and heartbreaking. I'm so sorry you and family are going through that. It sounds like he is getting great care. I hope it continues, as others have said, and that includes psychiatric help.