Grieving mothers’ message to parents about suicide
Community Conversation: Centers For Disease Control and Prevention report suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers
CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Centers For Disease Control and Prevention report suicide is the second leading cause of death for teenagers.
Two mothers believe education can help prevent another teenager from taking their life. They want to turn their pain into purpose.
Jennifer Davis and Ginger Finley recently met because of grief.
Davis’ son and husband both took their lives. Davis’ son took his life in 2009 and her husband in 2020.
“I describe this to people in this way,” Jennifer Davis said. “I’m angry but I’m angry about a lot of things. And I think when you are angry about something - you need to turn that into something kind of positive energy because it can destroy you.”
Finley’s 18-year-old son died by suicide in February 2021.
The two mothers recently met for the first time and made an instant connection.
“We’ve suffered a loss that you pray,” Ginger Finley said. “You pray and you hope most people will never experience in their life, and you know how great that is - how tragic and horrific - there’s no word for it. There’s none. A child loses their parent - they’re an orphan. A husband or a wife loses their spouse - they’re a widow or a widower. But you lose your child - you lose a part of yourself.”
The mothers want parents to notice the warning signs.
The signs range from aggression to not talking.
“I can tell you knowing my child the way I did,” Davis said. “I knew something was not right. He was going into the ministry and he was waffling in his faith and he wasn’t going to church so he wasn’t getting fed spiritually. And then we talked a little bit and I said, ‘Sean, I know you are going through something, you don’t have to tell me. You don’t have to talk to your Dad. You don’t have to talk to your sister. but you need to talk to somebody so you can get that out.’ And here was one of the first signs I had, he said, ‘Momma, I don’t want to talk to anybody which really stunned me, but I thought he was coming out of that. I saw fits of anger, withdrawal, and at 35 he was not a drinker but he was drinking some. He didn’t tell us that - somebody else told us that.”
Finley says her son raised his voice to her 10 days before he took his life.
She thought that was unusual but just thought he was stressed about not having a normal senior year.
“I told some of his friends it was death by a thousand cuts,” Finley said. “I think it was a lot of little things that added up and unfortunately I did not know - his father did not know that he didn’t have the coping skills to manage that. And to also our society, young men are supposed to be tough, they are supposed to suck it up - get up by your bootstraps and go. You’re not supposed to have a problem. You are supposed to be the hero - to be the one. Our young men and all of our children need to know - it’s ok to not be ok. It’s ok. You are still loved.”
The grieving mothers have a message for parents - start the dialogue with your kids early and often.
“I am out of my comfort zone,” Finley said. “To warn parents that it’s the second leading cause of death for children right now. If you are teaching them how to drive - awesome. You take them out on Sunday afternoon practicing parking - that’s great - tell them to wear their seatbelt, put the phone down, don’t text and drive - great. Talk to them about their mental health too and their emotional health.”
They also have a message for teenagers who want to harm themselves.
“So the first thing I would tell people is this get out of the moment,” Davis said. “Get out of your head, life is precious and you have a purpose and there is somebody - Ginger and I - if necessary. They can find us...Life is hard but you don’t want to leave people that you care about in the pain that we are living in.”
If you or somebody you know need to talk to somebody - the Suicide Prevention Hotline is 800-273-8255. It is open 24 hours a day - seven days a week.
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