Youth suicide: how can we offer hope to this generation?
(This week) we will say goodbye to yet another one of Sunshine Coast's sons lost to suicide.
Another grieving set of parents, another family left in the wake of senseless tragedy. Another group of friends forever marked and marred by the silent suicide epidemic.
Riley was my friend too. I was his Chappy for 5 years, and we shared some pretty cool times together.
In year 10 he was involved in our boys wilderness trek. I was impressed at his depth of insight and intelligence. Then we would catch up from time to time and talk about a whole range of things, including death, suicide, eternity and faith. He graduated high school in 2016: the same year I finished my role as Chappy.
He leaves behind a lot of people who supported him, who love him and who will miss him like crazy.
Do you talk to your loved ones about mental health and suicide?
This poll ended on 19 April 2018.
No, I don't think anyone I'm close to needs support.
Yes, I've talked through the issues with them and offered support if needed.
I want to, but I haven't had the chance to bring it up.
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
I hope for all those impacted by Riley's death, that although there is sadness, there will be no hint of hopelessness. There's no problem too big that you cannot get through.
As it has been said, 'Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.' And it's never a solution for those left behind.
There is always HOPE! For me personally, hope is found in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He is hope.
Youth deaths make headlines when speed is a factor, or alcohol and drug consumption, or if its just a tragic accident. And so they should- such stories should be told, and the rest of us should grieve for our collective loss.
But suicide is still stigmatised. Why? Maybe its because we're embarrassed and don't know what to say to those left behind.
Or perhaps we really don't have any answers as a society to bring real and lasting hope to the 2,500 people who take their own lives each year. Thats right: 2,500, or 7 each day.
In Australia, there are twice as many suicides than road deaths every year. The suicide rate has risen by 20% since 2004 and road deaths have fallen by 27%.
Its time to have real conversations. My hope and prayer for any person, young or old who struggles with suicidal thoughts would be that they find hope and peace through connected relationships.
NATIONAL 24/7 CRISIS SERVICES
Talk to someone about what's going on. Or if you're not ready yet, at least visit a couple of the sites I've listed below.
And if you have someone tell you that they are having thoughts about harming themselves, listen without prejudice or fear. Bring hope. Let them know they are loved and valued.
My little raincloud
rains into my gashes as my composure crashes
And my life smashes on the floor,
that's what butter fingers are for, oops,
I'm a teen loner with an Emo Persona,
Slipping off your attention span,
Taking 'Can't' when I can.
Scars on my body translate scars on my soul,
Open and swallow me whole,
My life keeps hitting the wall,
Curled in a ball,
As the room starts to spin,
The only position I feel ok in.
by Riley Owen
Shared with permission
Stuart White is a former chaplain of Caloundra High and now a pastor at Flametree Baptist Church in Nambour.