Suicide is among the top five leading causes of death of teenagers between the ages of 12 through 19. During these years our minds are so vulnerable to feelings of never fitting in, of never being accepted, never being good enough, and never being loved unconditionally. I should know, I almost became that statistic, for those exact reasons, as well as having loved ones who are those statistics.
I lost my Uncle (and Godfather) to suicide when I was only 12. He was in his late 20s. It was the first time I can recall the idea of taking your own life came into my mind. It also showed me the destruction of the people left in the wake of the action of committing suicide. I saw my dad hugging my mom outside our front door, trying to hold her up from her need to collapse to the ground in tears. I saw the months pass by as she struggled to come to terms with the loss, never really able to grasp it fully.
They never had a great relationship, but they shared a bond of being adopted, of growing up under the same roof, and having the same parents, the same upbringing. My mom thrived under my grandparents rules, ones that were representative of their catholic beliefs. However, my uncle often felt alone, abandoned and different. From the stories I hear of him growing up, he took being adopted as not being wanted by his real parents, and was so blinded by his grief, he couldn't see that he had been chosen by a family that wanted him, at least until he grew up.
He was gay, something that hurt my very catholic grandparents deeply. They made a choice to not accept it, they were taught it was wrong, it was a sin, so in their eyes, just as they had chosen him, they could chose to abandon him. He turned to my mom but she couldn't accept him either, she had to protect her parents feelings first. This was the early 80's when he first came out. Being gay typically brought about this reaction. After this event, I never really got to know him because he was shunned from the family, or he didn't want to come around, or something like that. My mom doesn't talk much about it.
I wish he could have held on though. My grandmother learned that her upbringing taught her the wrong thing, my mom would have turned around too, and look at the world we live in now! It's been 20 years since his death and gay marriage has been legalized in how many states? There have been so many leaps in Gay rights and more and more people are learning that being Gay isn't a sin and it's wrong to treat people like that. The most important thing that he would have known, would be that the little 2 year old niece he held so close to his cheek, that he gave her stubble burn, would have accepted him no matter what, and would have loved him unconditionally.