Participants: Alanzo & June Smith
Series Code: FFH
Program Code: FFH00001A
00:05 With each new day families are failing and homes are
00:09 broken, marriages are threatened, fathers are absent.
00:13 Children are rebellious but all is not lost.
00:17 Homes can be healed and hearts can be mended.
00:21 Let's reclaim our Families 4 Heaven.
00:32 Thank you for watching Families 4 Heaven.
00:35 I'm Alonzo Smith and my co-host is June Smith.
00:40 We're sharing with you today the topic of the
00:44 Vicious Rage of Suicide.
00:46 Unfortunately many people get weighted down by
00:52 life's challenges.
00:54 Sometimes they think they are trapped and there
00:57 is no way out.
00:59 Today we are here to talk about suicide.
01:02 We would like to say that suicide is never an option.
01:08 Before we go into this discussion, I want to let you
01:12 know that we are very cognisant of the fact, this
01:17 topic will evoke anger, hurt, pain, sadness,
01:26 and painful memories.
01:29 So we will do our best being cognisant to that fact.
01:33 We will do our best to approach the subject with care
01:37 and in any way we can help to bring some soothing to your
01:41 soul, we will.
01:43 Because we are family therapists, we have dealt
01:46 with this with this case of this situation so many times
01:50 so we do understand.
01:51 In United States of America, suicide is the 11th leading
01:58 cause of death.
02:00 That gives you an idea of how prevalent it is
02:06 in our society.
02:08 The reality is that among young people, 15 to 24,
02:14 it is the second-leading cause of death.
02:18 To put this in perspective you have over 32,000 people
02:25 who take their lives annually.
02:28 So for every two murders in the US, we have three
02:33 people committing suicide.
02:35 It is said that men's suicide is four times more
02:42 than female suicide.
02:44 Now 1 in 5 high school students often think about
02:48 taking their lives.
02:51 The sad fact is that 1 in 6 have a plan of how they
02:57 want to take their lives.
02:59 And while not all who think about suicide will actually
03:03 carry it out, 1 in 13 of them make an attempt.
03:08 Looking at this kind of statistic, it seems as if
03:13 adolescents see this as a viable option.
03:21 What can you say to young people listening to us now that
03:25 indeed this is not really an option?
03:28 Weekly I talk to young people who are depressed,
03:33 Who are sad about whatever it is that is causing their pain.
03:39 Frequently one of the options they think about is
03:44 ending their life.
03:46 I would like to say to adolescents especially,
03:49 because sometimes they feel left alone, sometimes
03:52 they feel rejected, some of the times they think
03:54 there is nobody to talk to, but there is always help.
03:59 All you have to do is talk to somebody, your school
04:03 counselor, a social worker, your religious leader,
04:07 your parents, a friend, grandparents, somebody who
04:12 will be able to get you help.
04:14 As we talk about this sensitive topic suicide, we have
04:18 with us our guest, Miss Pamella Simpson,
04:21 Won't you help me welcome her.
04:28 Pam we thank you for coming on our show.
04:31 As I talk with you, you were a mother, a professional mother,
04:38 successful and things were going well.
04:41 Happy, beautiful and then all of that changed one November
04:47 morning, could you share with us what happened?
04:51 I somehow found out that my son was not going to school
04:58 and it led to a little squabble, parent-child.
05:07 He admitted he was not going to school and that he was
05:14 being deceptive because he led me to believe that he was
05:19 going to school daily and here it was in November I am
05:25 learning that he hadn't been going.
05:27 We had a little bit of a heated discussion on the topic
05:35 and he got up and got dressed.
05:39 I said where are you going, and he said to kill myself.
05:44 Just like that?
05:45 Yeah, calmly and I thought he was being facetious.
05:52 So I said I will bury you and he walked out the door.
05:58 As he was leaving my niece was coming into my house and
06:04 she said, what is the matter?
06:08 I told her, this is an adult niece, and she said I don't
06:12 like the feeling.
06:14 She turned around and got in her car and went after him.
06:19 Before you continue, I just want to know if there is
06:23 anything significant with the response
06:25 she gave as a parent.
06:27 Her son, what ever he was upset about, when he was
06:32 leaving she asked where are you going?
06:34 He said, nonchalantly, I'm going to kill myself.
06:39 She said, I'll bury you, again in a nonchalant way.
06:44 What is your perspective on that?
06:48 I think it's a very familiar response, and many
06:51 parents that have not had an experience with this, many
06:55 times you are not even aware that this is an option
06:59 young people think about.
07:00 So when they have a conflict with their child and the
07:03 child were to say something like I'm going to kill
07:06 myself, you think well they are just being rude,
07:09 or just being facetious as you would say.
07:11 So it is very common response that a parent would think
07:14 nothing further.
07:17 So you are saying that it is not that the parent was
07:21 insensitive, it is not a case where she doesn't care and
07:25 here was a child giving a clear, and she just ignored it.
07:29 I am saying that it is very common that a child would
07:34 respond that way and a parent would think
07:35 nothing further.
07:37 Because the last thing you want to accommodate your
07:40 thoughts that your child could be serious about saying
07:43 something like that.
07:44 Continue Pam.
07:48 He left the house and my niece went after him and she
07:52 came back shortly and said, she was driving and he was
07:56 on foot, and he went up a one-way street and when she
08:00 finally could turn the car around and headed in the
08:04 direction he was headed she lost him.
08:07 So she came back to the house and I sort of sensed an
08:13 uneasiness and I called the police.
08:16 When they came I had nothing more to tell them then
08:22 what I have just told you.
08:24 So they really had nothing to go on, so they said
08:27 they would drive around the neighborhood and see if
08:29 they could find him.
08:31 They came back maybe an hour or so later and rang my
08:38 doorbell, I did not see him with them.
08:42 I knew something was terribly wrong.
08:45 But up to this point, it was just
08:48 an empty feeling inside.
08:52 Pamella: yes
08:53 you don't know what, it could've been a car crash,
08:56 could have been anything, but it is just that you did
08:59 not see your son with the police.
09:03 So no doubt in your mind now was why were they coming
09:08 back a second time and were not coming to say here's
09:13 the boy you have been saying you can't find.
09:19 This should be an empty hollow feeling going on
09:24 at this stage.
09:26 At that point what is happening is that the ideas
09:30 and thoughts are now beginning to be set.
09:35 You heard your son say he is going to kill himself.
09:40 The idea of killing himself just started to resonate
09:44 and when you saw the cops when you reported the case
09:48 and he was not there the thoughts occur to you that
09:51 it could be something serious. Pamella: Yes.
09:56 So the police was at your door. Pamella: Yes.
10:00 My son was not there so that was not a good sign.
10:06 They then told me to come with them because they
10:12 wanted me to check if this was my son.
10:17 So I went with them.
10:19 When I went, I think, I'm not quite clear but I know
10:25 I made a call to my pastor who was at the scene before
10:31 I got to the scene, I do not remember.
10:33 I do remember that by the time I got there he was there.
10:42 He was with one of the elders from the church.
10:46 He took me back home and made a phone call to
10:54 the church, and the church folks came running.
11:03 Now you didn't tell us what you saw when you went there.
11:11 My son had jumped off a building, so they just showed me
11:18 his face and the police were very sensitive, I must give
11:24 them credit and they were glad my pastor was there to
11:29 deal with the issue.
11:34 June: I can understand how difficult it must be to talk
11:39 about it, but we are trying to help other parents.
11:42 Tell us what was your immediate response?
11:49 Shock, disbelief, questions.
11:54 During the time that the police left and before they came back,
12:01 I prayed and asked God for a miracle for a change and
12:06 let it not be, just be angry words spoken and nothing
12:11 that would be fulfilled.
12:12 I prayed, I really did.
12:14 June: and now you are facing that reality?
12:18 Pamella: Yes.
12:20 This is now your reality, you cannot deny,
12:25 you saw the facts.
12:28 Were you alone or did you get help?
12:33 Immediately after?
12:35 Did you have a support system?
12:38 Pamella: my church.
12:40 Okay, did you find out that they were very helpful?
12:42 Were they there for you?
12:44 Pamella: they were my best friends, the church they were
12:48 very supportive, very comforting, a true bridge over
12:52 troubled Waters.
12:54 Alonzo: if you have a best friend, and that best friend
12:57 was dear to you, it is okay to say his or her name if
13:01 you feel comfortable doing it.
13:02 Joliette McFarland.
13:06 Alonzo: Joliette McFarlane, she was there as your best friend.
13:10 A Bridge over troubled water.
13:11 It is always good to have a best friend, and to have good
13:16 friends, and to have church members, other support systems
13:21 from your community, because no one knows when
13:25 tragedy will strike.
13:28 When that happens you do need to have a support system.
13:34 My family, my sister in law, because at a time like that
13:40 you go into automatic pilot and you do what you have to
13:46 do but you are really not thinking.
13:48 You are doing things spontaneously rather than
13:52 through a thought process.
13:54 Is there anything you could say to parents who are
14:02 watching this program,
14:04 1. they may have gone through a similar situation.
14:08 2. they might see some troubling signs.
14:12 3. they might just be parents out there.
14:15 Is there anything that you could say that might help
14:17 them through this situation or their crisis?
14:20 Through their crisis, faith.
14:27 You need family support, you need a friend,
14:31 and you have to keep a connection with God.
14:34 For me this was a testing of my faith.
14:39 I blamed God, I beat up on God, I questioned Him.
14:45 Alonzo: so you are angry at God?
14:47 I was very angry at God.
14:50 June: after you saw the effects of your son's loss,
14:54 did you feel any guilt?
14:59 Pamella: yes, I felt guilt for the comments I made right
15:03 before he went out the door.
15:05 I blamed myself for all sorts of things.
15:14 June: but you now know that you are not responsible for
15:16 the choice he made? Pamella: yes.
15:19 You said you are angry at God.
15:21 Did He at any time reveal Himself to you?
15:24 I think, I am so thankful that we serve a big God.
15:34 Who is not afraid when we get angry.
15:39 He says, let's reason together and when we are angry with
15:45 Him, He has a way of dealing with us on a very personal
15:53 level and I remember one day after the burial and life
15:59 started to return to whatever is supposed to be normal
16:05 at this point.
16:07 I was going to work and I was very, very depressed.
16:13 I had to be at work by 4:30 in the afternoon and I
16:19 wanted some macaroni and cheese.
16:23 But I stayed in bed too long and was not in the mood or
16:28 have the energy, so before I knew at the time went by
16:34 and I did make my macaroni and cheese.
16:36 So now I am on my way to work and I'm kind of hungry.
16:42 I didn't get my macaroni and cheese.
16:44 During this time you're still angry with God?
16:46 Pamella: I am angry with God.
16:48 I was driving, speeding, and as I'm driving on the
16:57 highway and going downtown I'm going toward
16:59 the World Trade Center.
17:02 I said to God if you care about me, show me.
17:09 I want a free parking this evening.
17:12 If you care about me, give me free parking this evening.
17:18 So I drove to work and I'm crying and I am angry with
17:23 Him and I got downtown to Warren Street by the
17:30 World Trade Center.
17:32 I turned on Warren and I am double parked and I sit in
17:38 the car and still crying.
17:40 It seems as though I dozed off or something and the next
17:45 thing I knew a man is tapping on my car and he said to
17:50 me, would you like a parking space?
17:53 Hold it there, so you asked God, you're angry with Him,
17:57 you journey to work, you're working down in Manhattan,
18:00 no parking spaces down there, you know the problem.
18:05 So you just say to God okay, I'm angry with you, but if
18:08 You want me to get back with You, give me a parking.
18:12 Something like that, I thought I'd give Him a little
18:17 trouble today.
18:18 Well we are talking to Pam and it is a very important
18:22 topic we are going to take a break when we come back we
18:25 will hear the rest of Pam's story.