My 24 Year Old Son Killed Himself

This anonymous comment is being posted as an article about men with type 1 diabetes that commit suicide. We continue to have new posting on this dated article ,#212. As a parent, I cried my way through the piece. The sage advice this particular parent presents us with about her son; apologizing for being bipolar, diabetic and attempting suicide, is priceless. She reminds us that applauding the living we have experienced through ease and pain, is just as important to remember.

Anonymous- A Parent’s Story

My dear, 24-year old son killed himself with a massive bolus of insulin from his pump in March of 2011. He had struggled with T1 diabetes since 1988, when he was only 1-and-a-half years old.

The onset of diabetes almost killed him. He had been sick with acidosis for about four days. No doctor seemed to know what was wrong with him.  The medical team did not expect a young child to have diabetes.

I’ll never forget him writhing in agony on the hospital exam table after my husband, and I rushed him there at 3 o’clock in the morning. I had trouble holding onto him on the drive there. Putting him in a car seat was out of the question. Take it from me, there’s nothing worse than watching your toddler suffer and listening to him scream for help. He kept crying out, “Mama, ba-ba! Mama, ba-ba!” He was so terribly thirsty. And he was so dehydrated, the doctor and nurses couldn’t find any vein. They eventually ran an IV into his scalp.

“Your son has diabetes mellitus,” I can still hear the doctor informing us. “Well, at least he’ll live!” I replied. “Well, he’s not out of the woods yet,” snapped the doctor. I knew SO pathetically little about diabetes.

Our son was in intensive care and the hospital for a week while they stabilized him and taught us how to TRY to care for him. 
 Let’s fast forward 23 years … way past his brother getting it ALSO, at the age of three … Past him being taunted and bullied by classmates because he had diabetes; past his significant adjustment to an insulin pump when he was 12; past him being recognized as an awesome singer, pianist, guitarist.

I’ll fast forward the story to my son getting the highest honor possible at State Solo & Ensemble festivals 2 years in a row.  Past his leading roles in high school musicals and plays; past his always getting honors and high honors in high school. Despite  how crappy he felt; past playing guitar,  singing as a regular member,  earning  and earning money in a local rock & roll band with musicians many years his senior.

Fast forward to his being accepted into a highly selective college and his parents going into debt to keep him there. And we arrive, finally at a handful of suicide attempts while in college???

Where did this come from, we wondered? He doesn’t deserve this!! We don’t deserve this!! What happened to our fantastic, skillful, passionate, talented and self-reliant son? Haven’t we ALL suffered enough?

We also wondered why he had had so many girlfriends he couldn’t keep? It tormented him. He seemed to love every one of them. And why did he choose to drink, etc., etc., when we always counseled him to avoid that BECAUSE of his diabetes?

While in college, he performed two fantastic solo recitals, singing with angelic and amazing skill. He memorized songs in Italian, German, French, Russian, etc. We were amazed, but we were mostly scared.

Though he earned his degree and managed to graduate from college in 4 years, he received the additional diagnosis of “Bipolar Disorder” after he was transported, in handcuffs, to a mental hospital after trying to kill himself with insulin. How many times had he tried to kill himself without our even knowing it? More than a few, he told us.

When they released him he even had to go to court to APOLOGIZE for (being bipolar, diabetic and) attempting suicide. (I think that depressed me the most! Hadn’t he suffered enough humiliation?

It wasn’t fair to punish him for failing! He had worked so hard at keeping it together for so many years.) We sent him to a psychiatrist who was treating our younger son. The doctor didn’t honestly do much. He kept him on the same drugs prescribed at the hospital and told him he thought he was doing fine. Our son told him the drugs made him feel sick. The doctor saw him periodically but told him he wouldn’t be able to tolerate any alternative medications because of his diabetes. Our son’s beautiful, blinding smile fooled him.

Things were NOT fine. He should not have moved out into his apartment again, that second time. We begged him to stay. We understood that he hated living under our roof at his age. But he was NOT well, and we knew it and it terrified us.

He moved out so that he could stop taking his meds and end it all. We even stepped in and phoned the doctor and told him we were worried that he might harm himself. The doctor only tried to call him. Three days later, our son killed himself.

We wish things were differnt for us and we wish we didn’t live in a small town with so few resources for people with diabetes.

Group therapy might have helped him!! We’ll never know for sure.
Now we live without him and his beautiful music and smile. And now we continue to love and worry about his younger brother who’s in college and also living with diabetes, anxiety and depression – but doing well, it seems.

He’s a different individual, we know, but …? We were  blessed with a beautiful, caring, intelligent and talented 17-year old daughter whom we love very much. Though she has had chronic asthma since she was very young, she doesn’t have diabetes or, hopefully, depression. But we worry about her, too. I know, it goes with being parents.

After raising two children with diabetes, I know full well how terribly hard it is to live with type 1 diabetes. I vividly recalled crying, many years ago when our oldest was first diagnosed, while reading some book about IDDM that informed me that serious problems/complications would doubtless appear after 20 years.

I had, of course, pushed that memory away for many years. Now, it haunts me. I, quite mistakenly, believed that once we got our son through his high-school years he would easily cruise through the rest of his life.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. No matter how many times we implored him to take care of himself for us and his siblings – if not for himself, he chose to end his life using his pump – the major thing that we had gotten him to improve his life with diabetes. Ironic. Tragic.

I have to admit honestly that, trite though it may sound, everyone struggles with life. Everyone wonders how long they’ll live. So, it seems to me, as a mother that all we can do is walk on in faith, and truly hope that we’ll reunite with our loved ones some day.

All any of us can do is our best. And we need to cherish the sweet memories and struggles – won OR lost. We also need to respect and fear the horrible power diseases like diabetes and depression have over us. We need to honor any loved ones — warriors, truly — who fight the daily battle of living with diabetes – as well as any choice they might sadly make, to end their struggle. God willing, they won’t come to such a decision, but we need to respect and honor them for all the living they managed to squeeze in. I loved my son. He was a human being with all his perfect imperfections. He drained us of any retirement funds. He frustrated us with his stubborn denial and insistence on being an independent adult. But I will never, ever stop admiring him and being grateful for the precious years I had him to love as my son.

Thank you Anonymous for this deeply felt piece. Your comment is synergistic with As the first bloggers in the diabetes industry back in 1990, we are committed to giving people with diabetes a forum to emote what’s real.

Incase you don’t know this already; everyone that writes for has a connection to diabetes. Let this continue to be your voice and thank you for continuing to be a teacher to me.

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