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Old 12-02-04, 02:16 PM   #1
LittleBigMan
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Tragedy close to home

My 9 year old daughter had a gym teacher that was really special. He encouraged the kids to exercise (including cardiovascular exercise,) eat properly, discouraged smoking and drugs. He seemed to be a real example to the kids and I was hoping to get to know him better.

This morning, he did not report for work. They found he had shot himself.

There are so many things going through my mind. What could I have done to intervene if I had known he had problems? He did seem to have lost his positive attitude since his recent divorce, but I had no idea he was thinking about this. I have such sadness over his death and I am grieved by it, but I also wonder about the school kids he left behind. What will they do? How will they take the news of his suicide? They already know he died, but they don't know how he died. How and when will I tell my daughter how he died? Should I wait until she hears about it through the grapevine, or should I tell her myself?

I just can't believe this happened, especially to someone who seemed so nice and had such a positive outlook on life. I only hope there is a lesson in this for me, such as being able to recognize the signs of a depressed person. I noticed he had changed, but I had no idea!

I'm really not feeling great about this. I have to figure out what to say to my little girl. I guess all the kids' parents do, too.
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Old 12-02-04, 02:36 PM   #2
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I wish I had words to tell your daughter. If she were mine I would want the news to come from me though I have no idea what I would say.

As far as any possible intervention, don't dwell on what-ifs. I myself sat on my bedroom floor a few years ago with my .38 Special cocked and pointed. The only thing that kept me from shooting was the fear that my 6 yr old (at the time) daughter would be the one to run in and find me. I did an excellent job of letting no one know I was that far down. My closest friends had no idea. I decided to change my life instead of end it. I wish this man had done the same.

My prayers are with you.

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Old 12-02-04, 02:58 PM   #3
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My brother-in-law hung himself in his parents' closet. His mother found him. He had shown no signs that he'd been thinking of doing it.

Like soonerschwinn said, people are good at hiding their depression & suicidal thoughts. You shouldn't beat yourself up over what-if's (like ss said).

As for telling your daughter, sorry I can't help you with that. You might want to talk to the school and find out how they're going to handle it. Maybe get a few parents together with the administration and talk about how to tell the kids. It might be a good opportunity to have an assembly or other program on depression and suicide to help any people who might have similar thoughts.
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Old 12-02-04, 03:05 PM   #4
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Pete,

I worked in that particular field for the better part of 16 years, and I
can tell you this. If the decision was made, you would not have been
able to alter it.
I know that the emotional reaction is "what could I have done" but in truth
there really wasn't anything you could do if he didn't reach out first. SS also
touches on other alternatives but they would have been up to him.
As to your daughter, I suggest that you tell her and do it both gently
and honestly. Kids are amazingly resiliant although we all seem to think
they need to be protected from the truth. I can almost guarantee that
she will find out even if you don't tell her, then you have to deal with both
her reaction to the cause, and why you didn't tell her.
I wish there were some easy way to broach this subject but there isn't.

Marty
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Old 12-02-04, 06:53 PM   #5
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Thank you all. Every word is taken in.
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Old 12-02-04, 07:49 PM   #6
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I can't tell you what to say and can only imagine what i would say to my kids. However, please keep in mind that this happened to someone else and not to your daughter. Don't make this a life altering event for her. I would seek the advice of experts as far as what to say but I know that it is important not to make this larger than it is.

Again, it happened to someone else. Someone that lacked the courage to deal with life. That needs to be noted. Good Luck. My sympathies are with all involved.
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Old 12-02-04, 07:57 PM   #7
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Sorry to hear about this.

It definitely is a wake up call for those of us who may know someone who's a little down these days. The holidays are never a good time to be on your own if you're depressed. Anyone that knows someone who is depressed would be well advised to check in on that person. Maybe it could make a difference.




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Old 12-02-04, 10:41 PM   #8
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Pete,
I teach 9 and 10 year-olds this year. Something like this would be hard for some of them to deal with, but they ARE amazingly resiliant, as Marty said. Perhaps a school counselor who has some training in dealing with this sort of thing would be the one to talk to the kids. For sure a counselor should at least be available for any of the kids to talk to, if needed.

I would not wait long to talk to your daughter about her teacher's death. There is no way that the real cause of death will be hidden from the students for long. The explanation doesn't have to be long and drawn out, and it could be a chance for you to talk to her about important issues here in dealing with feelings of depression. When you think of 9 year-olds, you don't generally think of them having thoughts about heavy issues like that, but I have found in working with that age this year that they do, indeed, have thoughts and questions about such things.

I am saddened by the loss of what sounds like an excellent teacher. Good luck to you in finding the right words to say to your daughter.

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Old 12-02-04, 10:59 PM   #9
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I'd agree with Vicki, kids are growing up a lot sooner nowadays and as they mature, they appreciate the fact that they're told the truth sometimes. And in this case, I too don't think this is gonna stay a secret for long.
If I were you I'd tell her, at least she has someone in her family there for her to comfort her, then at school when she sees everyone with the same sad faces and the reality of it hits, that are conselors avaliable.
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Old 12-03-04, 07:24 AM   #10
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Now, when I see the people I normally see everyday, somehow I look deeper into their faces, and when I ask, "How are you?" I listen more closely.
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Old 12-03-04, 04:32 PM   #11
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I remember a few years ago, we lived in an apartment building. THis couple moved in upstairs from us- a man, about 50, and his girlfriend who looked to be about 35 or so. And her kid and a dog. I think his kids either lived there or visited him. It was obvious the guy was recently divorced. He always looked very unhappy, and he really looked out of place in this building, which generally had younger people living there. He looked like a suburban type. WE moved that summer and then, one day, a couple of months later- september, I think, we were coming back from a ride and decided to stop at our old building to see if any mail had turned up. A moving truck was parked outside, and it was the man's girlfriend ( don't remember her name) her daughter and the dog. We stopped to talk to them, and she told us they were moving to atlanta. Apparently, John had committed suicide about 3 weeks after we'd moved out. I don't know the details, like how it happened or what, although I doubt he had a gun. We were just horrified, but I said, "Well, he did seem to be kind of unhappy."APparently he'd had all kinds of problems, financial, etc, and probably stuff to do with his divorce. I never did find out exactly what happened; i kept wondering if the kids had seen anything. It was hard to imagine something like that happening in our building, though. But in a way it wasn't surprising, since the guy did look very unhappy a lot of the time; it's not like he seemed all normal and happy.
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