Jared Is 12 Years Old. Two Years Ago He Tried To Take His Own Life
This is what he wants other kids to know.
It was June 2016 and Amber Traxler was planning an evening bonfire with her family. Amber, her son Jared, her mother and sister were hanging out, sharing stories and laughs.
When 10-year-old Jared disappeared for a moment, Amber, of Kentucky, thought little of it. In fact, she figured he’d sneaked back into the house to snaffle some ice cream. What he was doing, however, was attempting to take his own life.
“Never in a million years would I have thought suicide would cross [his] mind,” shared Amber via online community Love What Matters.
By the time he was found, Jared had stopped breathing. He was airlifted to a local children’s hospital and placed in an induced coma. Incredibly, he made a full recovery.
And now he and his mother have shared their story in a bid to ensure that no other child, or parent, has to go through the same experience. Later, with the help of professionals, Jared was able to see that he had been deeply depressed, partly due to the loss of his beloved grandfather.
Today, he says, "I thank God every day for finding me worthy enough to bring me back, and that I don’t get to decide when it’s my time to go."
Jared's story has since gone viral on social media.
"It is a true miracle that Jared survived and is able to live to the fullest! He is brave for sharing his story and for bringing awareness to mental health to parents and children. I wish him the best," commented one user on Instagram.
His story seems extraordinary. Yet, regularly, kids as young as Jared attempt to take their own lives. Indeed, in Australia in 2016, suicide was the leading cause of death of children between 5 and 17 years of age, according to the Bureau of Statistics.
Further, in the past 12 months, 14 percent of young people aged 4 to 17 years met the criteria for a diagnosis of a mental disorder, according to an August 2015 government report: The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents.
That same report showed that more than 7.5 per cent of 12 to 17 year olds had considered taking their own lives in the previous 12 months: one in 40 had made an attempt to do so.
The figures are disheartening but the good news is that slowly we are seeing youngsters (and adults, too) better able to ask for help when needed and for the stigma of depression and other mental health issues to diminish.
Plus, there is a wide variety of resources and help available for young people experiencing mental health issues.
“There are simple things every one of us can do and say that can reduce suicide,” said beyondblue CEO Georgie Harman.
Some of these things are:
Asking the person how they are feeling and explain changes you have noticed in their behaviour.
Listening without judgement and without trying to advise them how to ‘fix’ their situation.
Asking direct questions about whether the person is thinking of suicide and has a plan.
Showing support and suggesting they seek help from a GP or a mental health professional.
Don’t be concerned about saying or doing the right -- or wrong -- thing. It’s just important to ask how the young person is feeling -- even if that means mentioning suicide directly -- and to listen, show care and support. You don’t need a professional health qualification to do that.
“And you can’t put the idea of suicide in somebody’s mind -- the research supports that,” says Ms Harman.
So what are the warning signs in young people at risk of suicide? Look out for uncharacteristic changes in behaviour over weeks or months. Things like withdrawing socially, persistent low mood, poor personal hygiene and reckless behaviour are all red flags.
So too is anger, insomnia, alcohol or drug abuse, poor diet and rapid weight loss or gain as well as giving away sentimental or expensive possessions. Other indicators are overwhelming feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and talking about death or wanting to die.
If you recognise a combination of these signs in a young person then start a conversation. You may well save someone’s life.
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300 22 4636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.
Feature image: Amber Traxler via lovewhatmatters.com