I read the news tonight about Rick Warren’s 27 yr old son who committed suicide and it got me thinking. Here we have a gifted man that is pastor of a mega church with over 20,000 congregants, author of a bestselling book “The purpose driven life”, and it would seem that this battle our youth are undergoing is not discriminatory. Despite the best counseling and health care available his son lost his battle. It raises a lot of questions and not enough answers nor prevention. Mental Illness is on the rise, prescribed drugs are on the rise and young adult criminal activity are also on the rise, just look at Columbine and Sandy Hook Elementary School as a few. How can we get inside the core of the problem and find the answers?

A friend of mind Melissa Dayton, and co-founder of “You Can NOT be Replaced” has this to share. My husband, oldest daughter and I founded You Can NOT Be Replaced after our local high school experienced the loss of 8 students, 1 to overdose and 7 to suicide. Our section of Monmouth County during the same time frame lost 12 to suicide; we have the largest cluster in the country. YCNBR focuses on the irreplaceable person and finding real contentment in life using your gifts and talents for others. We are deliberately trying to fill a hole and ‘catch’ kids several years before they may find themselves in crisis.

‘Why’ is always what people want to know: we don’t know. We don’t know why our beautiful utopian area of the country has this unfortunate claim to fame. Suicide is complex; it has many facets and nuances that factor in, many that only the person who is suffering knows. That complexity I think is the most challenging aspect of trying to figure out the ‘why’. It would be very easy to say, ‘their home life must have failed them’, ‘they lacked faith’, ‘why didn’t they have hope?’ and walk away and say ‘not my kid’. But we can’t walk away, there is a ‘hole’ in our culture and we need to help find a way to ‘fill it’.

Suicide isn’t black and white. If it was, it would be easy to figure out and find a solution. The young people we lost came from homes with parents who loved them; in most of the cases the families did whatever they could to help their children. In some cases the family didn’t know their child was suffering or that their pain was as deep as it was. Depression manifests itself in many ways; sometimes isolation, sadness, sometimes aggression, nastiness, but often in silence. It’s not how the movies want us to think it is. A depressed person can become a master at hiding their pain. Depression can be a very grey area layered with complexity. You can read more of what Melissa has to share at

A young adult I know that struggles with periodic thoughts of suicide shared this:  “its hard finding my identity in this culture for I believe it is a culture that idolizes things my generation can never achieve without a severe cost. The constant bombarding of kings to peasants leaves us feeling inferior. In the past people achieved honor and respect for doing good things and now the media shows us people being honored and respected for poor behaviors with contradictory values. For example, the music industry glamorizes criminal activities, beating their girlfriends, and shooting people, by rewarding them with record deals, fame and fortune.  The kids looking up to these musicians are tempted by their fame and wealthy lifestyles and begin desiring it and modeling their behavior to get it. Leaked sex tapes are rewarded similarly by being given their own reality shows, fashion lines, and product endorsements.  Young actors with drug arrests, accidents from driving under the influence, physically assaulting paparazzi, etc., are given increased work in the industry and promoted publically, as though this is commendable behavior.  The art of being famous by working hard and sharing your talent is lost. Religion and good examples are waning. There is a distortion of the truth that happiness comes with wealth and fame achieved by negative means, we kids are always striving by these examples at a cost and never achieving.” I share a piece of advice that was recently given me, “pray for the strength to be the person you’re supposed to be, instead of the person you want to be, happiness is found from within”. 

I recently met a couple at a fundraising event that shared with me their own personal tragedy of losing their only child at 23 to suicide. I don’t think they have any answers either, but they share how they got through their ordeal like this, “We were blessed to have God in our lives, without Him we don’t know what we would’ve done. Thankfully we belonged to a large prayer group on Long Island that supported us through it and God gave us the strength we needed to continue to go on. A few months later we became Eucharistic Minister’s ministering to the sick and dying, we also joined a survivor of suicide group. There is a very helpful magazine called ‘Alive alone’ it tells the stories of children and how the parents are surviving, some days I wish we had a magic wand to help all these kids and others who are suffering”.

Unfortunately, we don’t have a magic wand, but we do have the power of prayer and each other, and through our faith we carry hope with the belief that one day we will have solutions, solutions that will save our precious children from the agonizing struggles of despair and depression.

Drug use in teens: prevention tips

Shared from Chris Herren’s facebook page. Well worth following.

If you dont know  his story check it out.




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