Sep 012018
 

September is Suicide Prevention Month – Walk for Hope – September 22, 2018

If you have followed my blog you know that my oldest son took his life on March 15, 2015, 41 1/2 months ago, but I need to share his story again.

Kristopher Scot Caswell, 29, was one of my greatest joys. I was so proud of him. He had to grow up fast after my accident in 2001. All our lives drastically changed but Kris seemed to really excel. It was an important year, he got a job and his driver’s license. I never imagined that his life ending the way it did.

We knew he was struggling and thought we were doing everything right. He was seeing a therapist, he was on medication, he and his ex-wife were getting past all the hurdles and learning to co-parent their almost 3-year-old daughter. I talked to him on the phone every day. Living 50 miles from each other and me not able to drive it wasn’t possible to see him every day. He texted with his sister the day he died, he worked that day, he set up a playdate for his daughter for the following week. Something happened between Kris and his girlfriend that night. I knew part of it at the time, but months later when the police gave us his cell phone we saw what could have been the thing that pushed him over the edge. The police even said they wished they could charge her with something, but the laws hadn’t caught up with all this technology. When the local police came to our door at about 3:30 a.m. I knew as soon as I heard the knock that he was gone. I was awake and had been hours. He died 14 years after my accident on the exact same date. I will never know if that was intentional or just a fluke, but it haunts me. 

The sad thing is we are not alone.

  • Suicide is the leading cause of death in the U.S.
  • 44965 Americans die each year by suicide.
  • For every suicide 25 attempt.
  • Men die by suicide 3.53 times more often than women.
  • On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
  • White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.
  • Firearms account for 51% of all suicides in 2016.
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age — white men in particular.
  • The annual age-adjusted suicide rate is 13.42 per 100,000 individuals.

Suicide Rates by Age

In 2016, the highest suicide rate (19.72) was among adults between 45 and 54 years of age. The second highest rate (18.98) occurred in those 85 years or older. Younger groups have had consistently lower suicide rates than middle-aged and older adults. In 2016, adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 had a suicide rate of 13.15.

I saw an article last week about a 9-year-old boy that was bullied at school and he took his life. I know of a 10-year-old boy that took his life that same day as my son. To be in so much pain at such a young age is heartbreaking. Suicide strikes at all ages. Kris was 14 days away from his 30th Birthday. 

Risk Factors and Warning Signs

What leads to suicide?

There’s no single cause for suicide. Suicide most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge to create an experience of hopelessness and despair. Depression is the most common condition associated with suicide, and it is often undiagnosed or untreated. Conditions like depression, anxiety and substance problems, especially when unaddressed, increase risk for suicide. Yet it’s important to note that most people who actively manage their mental health conditions go on to engage in life.

Suicide Warning Signs

Something to look out for when concerned that a person may be suicidal is a change in behavior or the presence of entirely new behaviors. This is of sharpest concern if the new or changed behavior is related to a painful event, loss, or change. Most people who take their lives exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do.

Talk

If a person talks about:

  • Killing themselves
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Having no reason to live
  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Unbearable pain

Behavior

Behaviors that may signal risk, especially if related to a painful event, loss or change:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to end their lives, such as searching online for methods
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression
  • Fatigue

Mood

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation/Shame
  • Agitation/Anger
  • Relief/Sudden Improvement

Suicide Risk Factors

Risk factors are characteristics or conditions that increase the chance that a person may try to take their life.

Health Factors

  • Mental health conditions
    • Depression
    • Substance use problems
    • Bipolar disorder
    • Schizophrenia
    • Personality traits of aggression, mood changes, and poor relationships
    • Conduct disorder
    • Anxiety disorders
  • Serious physical health conditions including pain
  • Traumatic brain injury

Environmental Factors

  • Access to lethal means including firearms and drugs
  • Prolonged stress, such as harassment, bullying, relationship problems or unemployment
  • Stressful life events, like rejection, divorce, financial crisis, other life transitions or loss
  • Exposure to another person’s suicide, or to graphic or sensationalized accounts of suicide

Historical Factors

  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • Childhood abuse, neglect or trauma

What can you do to help STOP SUICIDE?

First, watch your family and friends, for the warning signs listed above. If you notice anything, don’t be afraid to talk to them about it. I made the mistake of treading lightly around Kris, just trying to show him I loved and supported him, but what I should have been doing was get in his face, make him hear me and start a continuing conversation. At the time I didn’t want to pressure him and we saw how well that worked. My pastor told a story at Kris’s funeral about what another young man wrote in his suicide note – “The weeds of my mind have grown so long that they entangled my tongue and I am no longer able to speak.” The pastor continued “There is a takeaway from that and I hope all of you take it with you this afternoon. When someone stops communicating with you, you need to know that something is wrong. Do not sweep it under the rug. Sometimes all we can do is let someone pour their heart out to us and sometimes all we can do is listen.”

Second, there are many ways to volunteer. With local programs and events in all 50 states, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s chapters are at the forefront of suicide prevention. Our mission is to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. AFSP engages with families, mental health professionals, community and local business leaders, school administrators and others interested in preventing suicide. Many counties, cities, colleges, and schools have their own organizations too. Many offer training so you can spread the word of suicide prevention. You can sign up here to become an AFSP advocate.

Third, WALK, there are suicide prevention walks all over the country. Our family with be walking in the Walk for Hope organized by Prevent Suicide of Columbia County here in Wisconsin on September 22. To find a walk near you or to create your own walk, follow this link. Also, watch your local papers or search on the internet for walks near you.

Last, DONATE. There are many ways to donate. You can find ways to donate nationally here. You can donate locally if you have an organization in your area.

Or you can donate for someone who is participating in a walk, like me and my family. This walk is very important to Kris’ daughter who is now 6. She calls it “Daddy’s Walk” because we get together to celebrate and talk about her daddy. She is still too young to understand the true meaning and having that conversation when she gets older is going to be so hard. We call our group Kris’ Krusaders. Kris loved Superman and Batman or any Super Hero for that matter. 

Our local organization does not have a way to take online donations so my daughter, Elizabeth has set up a Go Fund Me page for our family with a goal of $500. I was hoping to say if everyone just gave $1 we would easily reach our goal, but Go Fund Me’s minimum donation is $5. (They also ask for a tip, but you can choose “other” and type in 0.00.) If you would like to donate and feel more comfortable sending a check, just email me at dollycas@hotmail.com or message me on Facebook, and I will send you the address. We welcome all donations, no matter the amount.

About Prevent Suicide Columbia County

The funds raised will benefit Prevent Suicide Columbia County and its local suicide prevention initiatives, including:

 Free QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) suicide prevention training that teaches 3 simple steps anyone can take to save a life from suicide
 Support groups for survivors of suicide loss
 Public information campaigns, including social media and an on-screen video shown at local movie theaters
 Supporting community sectors, like law enforcement and mental and physical health care providers, to implement best practices for preventing suicide
 Increasing access to local mental health care services

Our Vision
A suicide-free community where people will recognize the warning signs,
intervene and help individuals find hope.

Our Mission
To prevent suicide through awareness, education, collaboration, and improved access to mental health care, and to support those who have lost a loved one to suicide.

My personal goal is to have no other family go through the pain that our family continues to endure because of suicide. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. The world will not be better off without you and everyone will miss you if you are gone. 

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.

 

  8 Responses to “September is Suicide Prevention Month – Walk for Hope – September 22, 2018”

  1. I’m so sorry about your son. My sons father also took his own life when he was 49- 10 years ago- so I also feel your pain. I believe that depression and ,or, substance abuse and in some cases mental issues play a part. My son is still angry that his father left him the way he did.We must be more aware.

  2. My heart feels for you because I do understand. Our daughter left for her heavenly home 30 years ago on September 8th. You learn to go on, but life is never the same. To have to bury a child is something no parent should have to endure. <3

    Sharing this post in the hopes that it may help others.

  3. I’m sorry to hear about your son. 15 years ago on August 23rd…our youngest son, 21, went to a party without his fiancé as she had class the next day. His ride left him there. He decided to walk to a pay phone (mobiles were not as prevalent then)…and was hit and killed by three separate drunk drivers..and bled out on the side of the road. We found out by his fiancée screaming “he’s dead! He’s dead!” They lived with us. She’d gotten an anonymous call. She called the 911 operator…who confirmed he was dead on the side of a country road very nonchantly. We asked her to remain in home while we went out to the site. We were not allowed in by police. As we set there…the coroner walked up to us and brought his ids. The people who hit him got off with hand slaps …we never saw him again. Fiancée and his older brother said he wished to be cremated…he was. I didn’t find out until 2 years ago that the decision that was made to not let us see him was because he was decapitated.

    There is no easy way to lose your children. Ever. My youngest brother was instantly killed in a car accident at age 36.. in 1986, 6 months to the day later, my older brother committed suicide with his service revolver….while his teenage son pounded on the door screaming “ dad don’t do it.”. That young man has never recuperated. My mom never understood. She was grieving but angry…saying he had a choice. What she never understood because of all the grief over her youngest son’s death is people “try” to commit suicide sometimes to get the attention or action needed. Those who “commit” suicide truly feel they can’t imagine another nanosecond in this world. It isn’t that they don’t love us…somewhere inside they are so overwhelmed with negative feelings, grief…or whatever, that they just can’t go on. I know in my heart that they loved us with all their beings. I also believe that God understands and grieves with us when a life is cut short.

    I forgave my sons killers because if I didn’t, I’d be bitter for the rest of my days. I did not forget.

    I’m so sorry you lost your son. I’m a clinical social worker…retired. I’ve worked to the best of my ability to spread the same words you do …to teach others to watch, to never take a threat idly, and to promote suicide awareness. Bless you and yours for all you do!

    • Oh, Renee, My heart is breaking for you and tears are rolling down my face.

      It is so hard losing a child, no matter the cause. We move through each day with a heavy heart. It has taken me a long time to understand the pain must have been in. I still go through all the stages of grief and do forgive him for leaving us, especially Natalie behind. There are still days I get really mad at him. As far as the girlfriend, I have not seen her since the funeral and that is fine with me. I am not sure I will ever be able to forgive her. She will have a lot to atone for when her time comes. Like you say, forgiveness may come someday but I will never forget the things she did.

      Sending you huge hugs. Thank you for sharing your story.

      Lori/Dollycas

  4. I read your blog but don’t always comment. Today I had to say this is a great post! Thanks, Dollycas, and blessings to you and all your family!

  5. […] my post here for more information and information on how to donate to the Walk for Hope on September […]

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