Sarah's Story

A Mother’s Story

I was the mother of two wonderful children, my daughter, Anna and, my son Alex. We would go to the beach every summer, Anna and Alex attended summer vacation Bible school, and we had all the love in the world. We truly enjoyed our time together.

Alex, enjoyed baseball, hanging out with his friends, traveling, and was often the life of the party. He was a high-functioning young man, yet most people had no idea that Alex suffered with depression.

As a child, Alex was a handful. He was angry, and the older he got the more he expressed his anger in negative ways, but he was a good kid. He always tried doing the right thing and he had a kind, loving soul and heart. He was hysterically funny, lived life to the fullest, and loved with his complete heart, but people didn’t know what he was going through or how he struggled. No one knew the chaos he felt in his head.

On December 19, 2015, my Alex died by suicide. My beautiful boy took his first few breaths in my arms the day he was born, and he took his very last breath in my arms on that dreadful and my family is devastated. We will never be the same again. The question was how to move forward now that our lives had fundamentally changed?


I had to talk about it.

My story shows that mental illness affects people of all ages, races, and backgrounds. Suicide is not a solution. There needs to be an end to the stigma surrounding mental health. People should not feel ashamed to seek help.

Alex died by suicide on December 19, 2015, and after I held him for the last time, I slept in his bed for hours. I did not know what else to do. I just remember feeling like a big part of me was missing. I will never be able to hold my child again, hear his laughter, or witness the man he was becoming.

Life is a puzzle, and now there will always be a missing piece for me. In life, I had always been proud of Alex and I refuse to be ashamed of his death. I knew no matter how hard it was, I had to talk about his suicide…about his struggles. Maybe mine could be a voice for someone else suffering but afraid to get help. Talk to your loved one if you suspect he or she may be suffering from depression or another form of mental illness. If your suspicions turn out to be accurate, and your loved one is suffering, seek help together. Walk through it together. Be there as much as you can. Love unconditionally through the good, the bad, and the ugly.


Reach Out

Before his suicide, we found Behavioral Health Services of Arkansas (BHSA) and Alex opened up to his therapist, and as a family, we attended therapy sessions together. They welcomed my son and my family with open arms. They were there for Alex, and now, as we continue to heal from his loss, they are here for his family and his friends.

(Through this tragedy, Sarah and her daughter Anna started Alex’s Army, a dedication to the memory of Alex Johnson, and to educate young people on the reality of suicide.)

It means so much that Youth Home is also dedicated to getting rid of the stigma that surrounds mental illness because they know that it prevents people from getting the help they need. Helping to eliminate stigma helps delimitate suffering and lives.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, I urge you to talk about it with someone you trust and that can help you. Be honest and open with yourself and with them about your thoughts and feelings. Suicide has never solved a single problem. If you are looking for a way out of the darkness, do not give up until you have answers – answers that fuel hope and make a positive difference in your life.

Anna

Anna and her mother