Ethan M. Berry, 03/04/02/-04/05/17
“His big contagious smile!”
That’s the answer I always get whenever I ask someone what they remember the most about Ethan, AKA: “E”. His smile could light up a room. He would always know how to uplift anyone that was having a bad day, or crack a joke when anyone needed a little pick-me-up, or just how to be a great friend.
He knew how to be kind-hearted and caring. He knew how to give back to the community. And most of all, he knew how to be a great brother, son, grand-son and all around great kid.
But what he didn’t know was how to do was ask for help.
You see, Ethan had his struggles. From his vision condition, his medical issues, his longing to be “just like one of the guys” and the main struggle he hid so well…. His depression.
He would get up every morning just like the rest of us and put on a good front for the world to see that he was in tip-top shape. But deep inside, his demons were eating him up.
As a mother, I think I should have known. But I didn’t. I didn’t see the signs. I didn’t see the pain the sadness. Nothing. No one saw it coming I’m assuming. No one saw the pain he was in or the hurt he felt. Enough pain to make him feel worthless. Enough pain to not think of the aftermath that he was about to cause for years to come. Enough pain to make him feel like he had no other choice.
But in reality, there were SO MANY other choices. If only he would have talked to me. Or talked to someone. Anyone. Maybe then, the pain he felt wouldn’t have spread now to his family, his friends, his school, his community, and everyone he had touched and made an impact on throughout his short 15 years. Pain that is still being dealt with well over 2 years later.
Suicide doesn’t just affect the person that is depressed or suicidal. Suicide affects everyone that plays a part in that person’s life, whether big or small, for years and years to come. Ethan’s younger siblings and family miss him dearly to this day, and I doubt that longing we feel to have him home, will ever go away. A piece of us is gone forever because of one quick decision he made instead of getting help.
Suicide prevention needs to be a top priority in today’s society as the suicide rate climbs. If you are a teen and are looking for ways to help, always seek professional help when necessary first and foremost for yourself or others in need. But there are ways you can help others and yourself in small ways as well:
Listen. Take all threats seriously and never, EVER shrug them off as attention-seeking or drama-creating. (Even if they are repeated. Pinky promise me please!) Exercise. Share your feelings. Check in on your friends. Daily if necessary! Don’t demand too much of YOURSELF. Self-care is a MUST! Watch for friends who are withdrawing or having loss of interest in usual activities. Never be afraid to be straight forward with someone and ask if they are suicidal. (“Are you feeling suicidal?” “Are you thinking of killing yourself?” are both great ways. You’d be surprised what a door opener this can be for someone who is wanting help!) And always, ALWAYS reach out to someone, ANYONE (parent, teacher, school counselor, doctor, etc) if you or someone you know are having thoughts of suicide or self-harm.
My heart is with the graduating class of 2020 this year as they make their way along this journey of being seniors without their classmate, friend, and to some, a “brother”… Only the Creator can answer why this was Ethan’s path and how they can best go on. And only them, as their own person can choose how to live this path. I hope they make it the very best they can and choose to honor their classmate by sticking together, always care for themselves and each other, and just live their best life today and everyday.
“For Every Dark Night, There Is A Brighter Day.” #blueforethan
Always missing “E” ~ H. Berry
* 24 Hour Crisis Hotline 1-877-380-3621 or 218-850-HELP
*National Suicide Prevention Lifeline-USA: Call 1-800-273-8255 – Available 24/7 * Text to Talk - Get free help now: Text CONNECT to 741741