Peace of Mind Project: Youth Suicide Prevention

Published: Sep. 29, 2017 at 7:29 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2017 at 8:55 PM CDT
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Evansville and Newburgh - A grieving Tri-State mom has made it her mission to prevent other families from enduring the loss of a child by suicide.

"He text me and said that he wanted to end the pain of life," said Lori Sullivan Lofton.

That was the last time Lori Sullivan Lofton heard from her son.

"Every day, I wake up thinking about him. I go to bed thinking about Brody."

Twelve-year-old Brody Lofton died by suicide in Sept., 2016.

"Brody was an awesome kid.  He was a lot like me.  Never met a stranger, talked all the time.  A lot of the pictures that we have, he was always on somebody's shoulders, always the life of the party," said Lofton.

It wasn't until after Brody was gone, that Lori knew something was wrong.

"He was really suffering, and unfortunately, I didn't realize that or I would've done things differently."

According to statistics, 46 people have died by suicide in Vanderburgh and Warrick Counties in 2017.  Officials said two of those people were under age 20.

"I think the biggest risk factor for parents is to think in the mindset, oh, that will never happen to my kid, my kid's not being bullied, my kid's a straight A student, my kid's on the basketball team.  That stress and perceived pressure and expectations on teens can be a really powerful force in their life, said Emily Reidford with Mental Health America.

Reidford said parents should also watch for a big change in mood, drug and alcohol use and access to a firearm.  And that's not all.

This was not the first time Lofton had lost someone to suicide.

"Not only did I lose Brody, but I lost his dad in 2009 from suicide," said Lofton.

However, she did not know this:

"When there's a suicide death in the family, that immediate family, their risk of suicide goes up by about 400%.  It's incredible," said Reidford

"That is a statistic that I didn't know back then.  How I think I would've changed is I would have talked to Brody a lot more about his inner feelings.  He was just really happy every day, but unfortunately,  inside, he was broken and we didn't know it," said Lofton.

According to mental health experts, the biggest protective factor for children is just one caring adult.

"It doesn't have to be a parent, a grandparent, a teacher.  It can be a coach, it can be a neighbor, a friend," said Reidford

Having an open and honest conversation about suicide.

"A lot of times, people think well, I don't want to bring up suicide because that will plant the idea in their head and then that will move them to action and that is not true.  In fact, most people who are asked directly who are thinking about killing themselves, is relieved that someone else cares and that someone else wants to get them help."

Since Brody's death, Lofton works closely with Youth First on suicide prevention and has established a suicide awareness fund.

"My main mission is to try to get more social workers into our school system just to have that means.  If he felt uncomfortable talking to me or his brother, I wish he had more opportunity to go talk to somebody else, a more mental professional than me just to get him some help."

She hopes her family's story will not have to become someone else's.

"if I can save one person's life, it's worth it."

Mental health experts want to stress the importance of reaching out for help as soon as possible, because recovery is possible.  If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide, there's a 24/7 hotline that can help.  Call (812) 422-1100 or (800) 273-TALK.

Below are several resources available for children and families:

Southwest Indiana Suicide Prevention Coalition

Suicide Prevention Lifeline

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Suicide Awareness Voices for Education

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