Teen Who "Had It All" Killed Herself and Not Sure What to Tell My Kids

Updated on December 28, 2018
A.T. asks from Brentwood, TN
10 answers

There were no signs and she seemed to have it all. She planned and completed a huge community service event over break, posted normally, and then ended her life. My kids don't know her but when we return home, the school is going to implement a program to prevent more suicides. There was another one last June. My kids are sensitive and I want to help them understand it but I am in shock. We adults want to do something but we can't think of anything. The family has lots of family and friends around them. We are about to travel so I will check back tomorrow. My kids have no access to internet until Friday so I have time.

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answers from Anchorage on

Many people put on good fronts when behind the scenes things are falling apart, I think the important message here is that no ones life is perfect and you never know what someone might be going through, all we can do is strive to always be kind to others and hope they can find a way to ask for help if they need it.

8 moms found this helpful

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I think the biggest take home message is that there is no perfect life. When I look on social media, I will see others who have more than I do and never seem to have problems. This isn't real life. Every person has his or her own troubles, and the people around them almost never know what those are.

The second take home, for me, is that it's another reason why we should always be kind to others. Even people who seem to 'have it all' often need a kind word.

I'm sorry for your community. The parents and friends of that girl will suffer for the rest of their lives, and I grieve for all of them.

11 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I think we have to redefine what we mean by "have it all." What are the standards we use to judge whether someone else is happy? What are the things we use to judge whether we feel complete and whole and fulfilled? Are we looking at superficial things, because someone had good grades and a nice wardrobe and worthwhile projects?

How do we know what "the signs" are? How do we know whether she was abused at home, pressured beyond belief to succeed, sexually assaulted by a relative (or classmate or Scout leader...), or whether she had an addiction (alcohol, street drugs, opiates from the parents' medicine cabinet or school friends), or mental illness (anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder)? We don't.

You are in shock. You are not equipped to tell the kids anything. You have too many questions yourself. Let skilled crisis counselors handle much of this. Get a book NOW from the public library on how to talk to kids about troubling issues - ask the librarian for help, and you may have to go beyond your own library which will have many requests. See a counselor yourself to help you cope.

My husband's brother committed suicide. My stepdaughter tried twice, and has been in and out of facilities and also in domestic violence shelters/programs. She's permanently disabled by PTSD and depression. My dear friend's 14 year old son is in a CBAT facility right now - his 3rd admission - for suicidal ideation and concrete plans to take his life. It's everywhere. The challenge is to admit when we don't know much about it and don't know what to say. It's not even well talked about. We never question when someone gets cancer or appendicitis, but when they have mental health issues, we act like they should talk themselves out of it because they "seemingly have it all." It's not just you by any means. That's how our society treats mental health issues. Which is exactly why it's so hard for people to come forward when they need help.

Please urge your school to put on programs for parents too, on how to deal with this loss and how to recognize signs in our own children, and what to do about it.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

I'd let the counselors at school handle it.
You might want to talk to the counselors yourself too.
There is no understanding it - I wouldn't try to make any explanations to anyone.

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on

This has happened a few times in our community too and it's so sad. These kids who seem to "have it all" are incredibly over worked and under so much pressure from parents and teachers to perform, succeed and live "up to their potential" whatever that means (I mean for crying out loud this girl spent her break taking on a huge project instead of resting, relaxing and having fun with her family and friends!) They probably just see a never ending road of college and work and nothing else to look forward to.
I'm not sure what you can tell your kids other than to remind them that people do this out of pain and desperation, and that no one is ever exactly as they appear on the outside. Since they have no relationship to the girl there shouldn't be any issues of guilt or feeling blame, which would be harder.
So, so sad :-(

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on


I'm truly sorry - the loss of human life so young is horrible.

It's hard to look at others and say "they have it all" - as you aren't walking in their shoes. She could have had "it all" but felt she was expected to be "perfect" and wasn't and broke.

As to your kids? If they didn't know her? I would state that we can't judge a book by its cover. If you feel like a friend is stressing out or very sad, reach out. If you can't help them? Let an adult know.

Tell them that you are here for them - no matter what - and that whatever they might go through? You will have their back. They can always come to you.

While it's sad, if they didn't know her? I would NOT make a huge deal over it. I know that sounds harsh - but if she wasn't in their inner circle? Her death might not affect them. I'm sure they will be sad at the loss of human life, especially by ones own hand, but don't expect them to become all sentimental.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

I'd let the school take the lead on this one but also start a conversation at home about internet life vs real life. Since you can pick and choose what you post you can show your fab life while keeping the real you hidden away. Your kids need to understand this so they don't see themselves as less than others or feel that others have it all.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

That's hard and so sad.

I got an Oprah magazine in my stocking and there is a section on this very topic. You could pick one up on your travels as it offers some good advice. Counselors may be available. I think the key (speaking from personal experience) is to talk about it - or being available to listen. When I was a teen and knew someone who attempted suicide, it was very confusing and upsetting. Back then, it was a taboo subject.

The thing is, often people who seem to have it 'all' are often under a tremendous amount of stress trying to keep it together.

This time of year is often the hardest for people with depression and anxiety, or other forms of mental illness.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

Wow, that is very sad, especially the fact that it has happened more than once. I wonder if they have a bullying issue that needs resolving? Many people assume that only people who are broke, dumped, in financial straits, etc. would commit suicide but look at how often it is someone who seems to have a perfect existence. Somehow people think that depression cannot strike someone young, or beautiful, or rich...look at Robin Williams, he seemed so happy and all, but inside, he wasn't and committed suicide. Then you have beautiful, young, successful girls like Demi Lovato, who has been struggling with mental health issues for a long time. Depression doesn't discriminate.

The best thing I would advise, once the counselors speak to the kids (and I'd encourage them to seek their own school counseling sessions, even if they think they are okay and able to process it all without the aid of a counselor), is to teach them to show kindness and empathy to all. If they see someone someone under extreme stress or who appear despondent, listen and reach out, and encourage them to talk to a counselor. If not, at least offer a caring ear. Maybe if this girl had had someone in school who offered her kindness and strength, she would have felt motivated to fight whatever was bothering her and stay on this earth, or someone could have alerted a counselor as to some troubling words or behaviors she was displaying, that were a cry for help.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

it's tempting to want to *tell* them the whys and howfores and make sense of it for them.

but some things just don't make sense, and there's no single right way to make it make sense.

you know your kids best so i think i'd follow their lead. do they need to talk about it? ask leading questions and then listen- really listen, don't try to explain. do they need solitude? let them have it, but do keep opening the door to conversation. maybe share something from your own experience, but briefly, just enough to give 'em a nudge, not to make it about you.

some kids may need counseling. most won't, but it's an option.

suicide sucks.


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