They kept his body on the floor of his room. The EMTs did everything they could to revive him, but it was an impossible task.
Jackson (16), took his own life.
He used a belt.
I received the call while mowing the yard. It was a sunny afternoon. I crumbled in the driveway.
Our best friends just lost their son. I couldn’t accept it as reality. He was a great kid, full of life, lots of friends, awesome Christian family. Why?
On the drive to their house, I cried, prayed for wisdom and shook my head in disbelief over and over.
I pulled up to their house, surrounded by police, emergency medical vehicles, crying family members—and stepped out of my car and into a dimension of suffering and loss I will never understand.
They walked me back to his room.
On bended knees, I reached out to touch his body, alongside his mother, father and little sister. Weeping. Soul deep tears. Tears that come from a place so remote we don’t even know it exists until we face a level of loss and suffering like this.
“Come back,” his little sister keeps saying, “Come back, Jackson!”
We cried out to God. We wailed. We prayed.
His little sister wouldn’t leave his body. We finally coaxed her into the other room.
The medical workers took Jackson out and placed him into the ambulance. As they drove down the street, we stayed silent, knowing he would never return to this house again.
Jackson was a Christian.
In fact, weeks earlier he was baptized.
He was an outgoing and athletic teen who battled anxiety and depression. But no one knew how deep that battle was until he was gone.
His journals read like Psalms. Both crying out to God for help and claiming God’s comfort and refuge in the same sentences. But the depth of those journals didn’t find words with friends.
I don’t know why God allowed Jackson to die. I hate it. I hate death, disease and soul-crushing loss.
There are so many Jacksons in the world today who are waiting for a small window of time to end their suffering. They don’t have the maturity or the clarity to describe their suffering to others and so they hold it in. Down deep. Until they can no longer live and leaving this world feels like the only answer.
Jackson’s parents are doing everything they can to keep other parents from experiencing their life-shattering loss. They’re talking about it. They’re sharing their story. They’re trusting God in the darkness.
It’s an epidemic we can’t afford to ignore. We need to talk about it.
And we need to ask the ‘taboo’ question, “Have you ever thought about taking your own life?”
It sounds so small and simple, but we need to ask our kids, our friends and even our friends’ kids if they’ve ever struggled or had thoughts about suicide. And we need to take those answers and do something with them.
Whenever I mow the grass, I think of Jackson now, the phone call, his little sister calling out his name, and I pray God would open my eyes to those who are hurting around me.
And I pray for the Jacksons who still have a chance.
If you know someone struggling with anxiety or depression, don’t hesitate to ask the tough questions. Dig in deep. Care. Listen. Pray.
Do something. Do anything.