I had the privilege of hearing Jordan Burnham’s story Oct. 24 at IVCC on his suicide attempt and life afterwards. Jordan told of all the “little failures” he endured up until the time he decided to take his life. He was not a stereotype of someone who would commit suicide; he was successful at school and athletics. No bullying was involved here, showing again suicide can happen to anyone.
I couldn’t help but think, this could be a conversation with my own son. He was the same age as Jordan when he attempted and succeeded at suicide, and he would be Jordan’s age now if he would have survived. As I watched at this event as the Putnam County bus unloaded a group of students who lost one of their own, I couldn’t help but think “where was the PHS bus?”
My son was a PHS student in 2007, and since his death, Princeton has lost three students to suicide, three people in their late teens/early 20s out of high school and several adults (30-plus). That’s just the ones I personally know about.
I know people have busy schedules; it was a school night after all, and life goes on … but would you know what to do if someone approached you about having suicidal thoughts. Would you know they just want someone to listen to them and not ply them with your own opinions or judge them or dismiss their feelings because you don’t want to deal with the subject? Would you realize their “little failures” are magnified times 100 in their minds and are a big deal? But only if the suicide subject becomes as easy to talk about as the weather are we going to make any head way with this disease.
As long as stigma and shoving it under a rug exists, so will suicide because for thousands of years that has been the remedy, and obviously it doesn’t work. So let’s change it. I hope I don’t ever read another letter to the editor asking what good a walk will do, when people don’t bother to go to the programs the walk pays for and educate themselves on the subject or join a group to combat the problem.
I’m proud to know such caring people who want to prevent another loss to our community, many of which are trying to prevent others from living with an enormous heartache that they will have to endure the rest of their lives, and it’s too late for them. I’m proud to have known my son, DJ, who was only trying to get me to realize he needed help, and my ignorance on the subject let him down. Don’t let your ignorance let someone you love down. Get informed or involved, or just be open to have “that” conversation. Make a difference.