A Father’s First Year After His Son’s Suicide

Honest Words From a Grieving Dad

Today’s blog is a re-post from July 12, 2014. It was written by guest blogger, Nick Watts, a father whose son died by suicide a little over four years ago. With beautiful authenticity he shares what the first year was like after this significant loss, what restored him, and where he found hope to go on. If you’ve lost your child to suicide, it is our prayer that you find help and hope from his words.


It took me eight months to come out of shock after the death of my son.

I’ll never forget the morning this past January when I awoke noticing something was different psychologically. Powerfully different.

After a few minutes, I finally realized I had not woken up trying to undo my son’s death – which was a sort of psychological torture I had endured both consciously and subconsciously every minute of every day since he took his life the previous May. It was as though my mind finally exhaled.

I’ll never forget that moment. Truth was slowly having its way with my broken mind & heart.

What Parents Need to Know About Suicide, Part 3

Knowing Where to Go For Help

I’ll never forget the day I discovered my daughter was suicidal.

Paralyzed, in shock, and overwhelmed with fear, I was at a loss to know what to do. I didn’t think there was anything I could do other than keeping a constant vigil. Have you been in my place or are you there now? Maybe it’s not your child. It might be another family member or friend you’re worried about. I thought there was nothing I could do that would make any difference.

twloha hopeBut I’ve learned that’s not true.

There IS something we can do.

It’s not that hard and it could give them new hope.

It could save their life.

This part of a series about suicide and a simple, easy-to-learn three-part process designed to help prevent death by suicide.

The process is QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer.

Developed by Dr. Paul Quinnett, you can read more about it here: qprinstitute.com

Today I’m addressing the third step, Refer.

7 Lies of Suicide: A 14 year-old’s Goodbye Letter

Reducing the Stigma and Shame

Has your son or daughter struggled with suicidal thoughts or made an attempt to end their life? If so, then you know there is a huge need for people to understand more about this issue. We tend to hide the truth of how our child suffers because there’s so much shame attached, but they need help and compassion, just like anyone else who has some other illness.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness reports: Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues.

Each year, more than 41,000 individuals die by suicide, leaving behind their friends and family members to navigate the tragedy of loss. In many cases, friends and families affected by a suicide loss (often called “suicide loss survivors”) are left in the dark. Too often the feelings of shame and stigma prevent them from talking openly.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month—a time to share resources and stories in an effort to shed light on this highly taboo and stigmatized topic. It is important to ensure that individuals, friends and families have access to the resources they need to discuss suicide prevention. NAMI is here to help.

The following is a letter written by Beth Saadati. I shared it last September. I’ll probably share it every year. The message is powerful and is for anyone, not just parents.

My Child Might Be Suicidal – What Can a Parent Do? Part 2

Listening Can Save A Life

You’re worried out of your mind that your son or daughter may be thinking about taking their life. Does it torment you that you don’t know for sure if they’re in danger? Have you been baffled by what to do to keep them safe, other than locking them in their room and keeping vigil 24/7? No one can do that for long.

I’ve been in your shoes. I know the agony. I wouldn’t wish that torment on anyone.


photo cred.Mary Donovan


This is a series on suicide and the QPR method for prevention that was developed by Dr. Paul Quinnett at the QPR Institute: qprinstitute.com  I learned about it when I attended one of their workshops.

Please read my last two blog posts to familiarize yourself with the warning signs, and the first step of this method, “Question”.

QPR is an acrostic for: Question, Persuade, Refer. Today’s post explains the Persuade step. You can read more about this life-saving technique on QPR Institute’s website.

My Child Might Be Suicidal – What Can a Parent Do? Part 1

A Simple 3 Step Strategy That's Saving Lives

suicide.manos bourdakisSunday, September 10th, was World Suicide Prevention Day.

This is for parents who are concerned about their children. What do they need to know about suicide? They need to know there’s something they could do that might make the difference if they suspect their son or daughter is considering taking their life.

That’s great news. I never knew these things when my daughter was struggling.

This is part one of a three part series outlining a potentially life-saving technique called QPR = three simple steps (QPR steps) anyone can learn. It has been very effective across the country.

What is the number one cause of suicide?

Untreated depression.

When discovered, depression is highly treatable. Complicating factors arise, however, when a person self-medicates with alcohol – a depressant – or drugs.  As odd as it sounds, research shows that “once someone decides to end their life, the hours before death are often filled with a kind of chipperness, even blissful calm. This change in mood is a good time to apply QPR.”

Who needs to know this technique? Everyone – not just concerned parents.

Please share this information with your friends. Let’s spread the word and save lives.

The 3 steps are:

Question – the person about suicide.

Persuade – the person to get help.

Refer – the person to the appropriate resource.

The first step of asking “the question” is the focus of today’s blog.

What Parents Need to Know About Suicide

Warning Signs and a Resource

Because September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month I’m doing a series on the subject. I will be posting more frequently for this month. This is for parents whose sons or daughters struggle with thoughts and fantasies of ending their lives – or anyone who cares about someone who struggles. They may be living with mental health issues, an addiction or an overall feeling of hopelessness. Your child is miserable and you’re tormented by not knowing if they’re safe – from themselves.

You have an uneasy feeling something is wrong but can’t put your finger on it. You worry they feel worthless and believe their life has no meaning; that they don’t matter.

The information here could be crucial for your child.

My source is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

The following behaviors may mean someone is in danger of ending their life. The risk is greater if a behavior is new, has increased or is related to a painful event, a loss or significant change.

These are the warning signs to watch for. If your child exhibits any of them, seek help as soon as possible. Call the Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). A trained individual will take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including holidays. And NAMI (nami.org) is another great resource for information and support.

Hurricane Harvey and Hurting Parents

What Matters Most in the Storms of Life?

Hurricane Harvey.NASA image.wikimedia commons


Category 4 Hurricane Harvey inundated parts of Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana last week with strong winds and over 20 trillion gallons of water – enough to fill up Lake Michigan. And the rain just kept coming as Harvey parked itself on top of them.
It wouldn’t quit. It never let up. It kept dumping more and more water down on their heads and towns and ranches and cities and highways. On everything.

Many hurting parents have felt like they did.

Relentlessly beaten down. Devastated. The pain and heartache won’t quit coming.

Family Makes a Difference in their Child’s Journey to Wellness

Fresh Hope for Parents

“I believe your daughter has bipolar disorder.”

My husband and I were shocked to hear the psychiatrist’s words. We were ignorant about the world of mental health. We wanted to be caring and supportive but had no idea how.

Today’s blog was written by someone who knows firsthand what he’s talking about. Founder of Fresh Hope (freshhope.us), Brad Hoefs, lives with bipolar himself. He has plenty of excellent help to offer. Be sure to check out the website.

Thank you Brad for your wise and helpful insights. We need them!


“I am offering 20 simple things someone can do in order to be caring, loving and supportive to those of us who have bipolar disorder. I do not believe this list is exhaustive. I’d love it if you would add to the list or clarify what I have on this list by commenting on this post.


20 Things you can do support a loved one who has a mental illness:

10 Things God Wants to do for Your Troubled Child

God's Incubator

Over six years ago my granddaughter was born 10 weeks early. Since she was a preemie, she spent the first couple of months of her life in an incubator. It helped sustain her until she could survive on her own. The incubator provided the environment needed to control her body temperature, oxygen levels, and the amount of humidity. While it was hard to see her in there, I knew that’s where she needed to be.

During those weeks I thought a lot about incubators and prodigal children. It occurred to me that our troubled sons and daughters are in God’s incubator.

The dictionary definition of incubator: An apparatus for maintaining an infant, especially a premature infant, in a controlled environment; a place or situation that permits or encourages formation and development . . .

Unlike preemies, our children have already been living in the outside world. But today they’re not well. Extra help is required for their formation and development to continue, so they can survive. They need to be lovingly cared for by the Great Physician in his intensive care unit.

In God’s incubator he wants to do these 10 things:

Interview with Mom of Former Heroin Addict

What She Wants You to Know

Welcome to my blog struggling mom, dad, step-parent or grandparent. Today’s blog is a true story. It’s an interview with a mom whose adult son was a heroin addict. He also struggled with mental health issues. (I posted another interview on August 7th with the mom of a teen).

Her name is Katie James, CRU staff member for many years. This is a strong Christian family involved in full-time ministry. This can happen to anyone.

We hope her authenticity and words of wisdom will help you on your journey. At least you will be reminded that you are not alone!


What signs of trouble did you first notice? 

We were slow on the uptake for sure. While there were certain things that predisposed our son to drugs (substance abuse and depression/anxiety disorders run in our family on both sides), we still assumed our children were immune to drugs in light of growing up in a strong Christian family. (etc. so silly…). Of course I know now that addiction can affect any family or individual.

Because our children were destined to never go off the rails (yes, that would be sarcasm) we explained away falling grades and other early signs. But looking back, the early signs of trouble were the typical ones: poor grades, cynicism, hanging out with a different crowd. He also stopped going to youth group and attending the Bible study my husband led in our home even though his old friends still went. And then there was the homemade bong I found hiding in his closet. A dead giveaway!


Please tell us your story. 

Our son began doing drugs when he was around 14: