Jordan E. Shaffer, 15, Death by Suicide
His best friend contacted me, via a comment on the blog post about the teen suicide cluster last month on the other side of Pennsylvania:
October 15, my best friend, I had just heard he had [committed suicide] [because of] one of the kids at my school bullying him. I have known him for eleven years, and now he is gone.Jordan Shaffer, 15, of Meadville, PA, ended his life Sunday, October 14th. It was a case that seems to have involved some bullying; however, bullying does not seem to be what led to break point. In fact, in a post on one of the memorial pages already set up in Jordan’s name on facebook, his mother clearly stated that it wasn’t because of bullying.
I realize there are many rumors floating around there about various things concerning Jordan’s death. To my knowledge, he was NOT a victim of bullying. PLEASE STOP SPREADING RUMORS!!! What Jordan did was DUMB. I do NOT blame anyone for what happened.
How do we go about making these young people understand that, regardless of what they’re going through at the moment, no matter how bleak things seem to be or how overwhelmed they may feel at the moment, nothing is worth ending their lives? What is it that we’re missing in our quest to convey to them that, given time, their lives will get better? Like everyone before him, Jordan’s friends characterized him as someone they’d never expect to end their life. Outwardly happy. Obviously, though, inwardly, there had to be a lot of inner turmoil.
There has to be a way to keep these young people alive long enough to realize that they haven’t even reached the prime of their lives, yet! There has to be something we can do and/or say to make them understand that no matter what they’re going through at the moment, it isn’t so severe that they should end their lives. Before we can get to that point, however, we must come to the point where we can see life through their eyes as opposed to life through our own “teenaged” eyes. They’re two completely separate worlds.
For many, teen years are some of the most difficult in life. Our bodies go through changes; relationships become complex; we begin to learn social roles; and more than ever we’re expected to grow up earlier. These changes and demands may leave a teenager feeling helpless, confused and pessimistic about the future.
Sometimes problematic circumstances, such as divorce, substance abuse, domestic violence or sexual abuse, complicate and worsen these “growing pains.” Dealing with adolescence is difficult enough by itself. When other such problems are added into the mix, life can seem unbearable to the teenager, resulting in feelings of depression, destructive behavior or even suicide. (ref: Understanding Teen Suicide)
There are many things we experience as teenagers. A broad spectrum of emotions. That holds true today more than ever as today’s youth are exposed to so much more than the generations before them could ever imagine. The heightened level of teen suicides speaks to that. Yet, in hindsight, I’m sure it’s not much of a stretch at all to say that there were warning signs of imminent danger. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t too well-versed in knowing the warning signs:
- pulling away from friends or family and losing desire to go out
- trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
- changes in eating or sleeping habits
- major changes in appearance (for example, if a normally neat person looks very sloppy – as if they’re not taking the usual care of themselves )
- talk about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
- talk about suicide
- talk about death
- talk about “going away”
- self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or driving too fast, for example)
- no desire to take part in favorite things or activities
- the giving away of favorite possessions (like offering to give away a favorite piece of jewelry, for example) suddenly very happy and cheerful moods after being depressed or sad for a long time (this may mean that a person has decided to attempt suicide and feels relieved to have found a “solution”) (ref: Warning Signs of Teen Suicide – What to Look For)
Jordan Shaffer leaves behind a grieving family and at least one devastated friend who contacted me the day Jordan’s life ended to let me know that his best friend “…for the past 11 years” was now gone for good. And, that nothing would ever be the same. No, it won’t. Hopefully, now you’ve found peace, Jordan. And, to you, his family and friends, may you, too, find peace.
Written by Ron Kemp
October 19, 2012 at 3:49 pm
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