Parents Who Lost Son To Suicide Talk Prevention, Reach Out To Stillwater Family
TULSA, Oklahoma - After the tragic suicide of a Stillwater junior high student, one Green Country family said they can sympathize with what that student's parents are going through.
Wednesday morning, police 13-year-old Cade Poulos shot himself in the hallway before classes started, in front of a group of other students.
Most parents don't even want to imagine what it would be like to lose a child to suicide, but one family said they know all too well what it feels like.
Their teenage son took his own life two years ago, after a discussion about grades.
Family and Children Services have seen a 32% increase in suicidal calls from children, just over the last year.
It's a real problem that all of us need to talk about, which is why this family granted us an interview.
"Not a day goes by that we don't think about him," said Mike Lemery.
Mike and Mickey Lemery said they lean on their faith daily to cope with the loss of their son, Jonathan.
"It's just overwhelming sadness. You just feel like you're in a cloud and you just miss him," Mickey said.
Jonathan was a high school senior in October 2010.
One night after dinner, his parents wanted to talk about his grades, which they told him weren't satisfactory if he was serious about college.
Jonathan smiled at his parents, and then walked away.
"'Til the day I die, I'll never understand why, because we'd never talked about it, never had a thought in my mind, never on my radar," Mike said. "But I had an image or a thought suddenly crossed my mind that he was going upstairs to my closet to get the gun. So, I ran after him screaming, ‘Jonathan, no!'"
Before Mike could reach him, Jonathan shot himself.
"Disbelief. I cried out to God and said ‘God, what can we do? What can be done?' I just didn't want to believe that it really happened," Mickey said.
The Lemerys were in shock for months before the reality set in.
They said Jonathan was a loner, but didn't seem depressed or even discouraged. Even at dinner time, the night he shot himself, he was laughing and joking with them.
"That battle that was raging beneath what we saw, it was a real battle in his mind that we knew nothing about," Mike said.
The suicide of the Stillwater junior high student brought back that overwhelming sadness for Mike and Mickey.
"[I'm] thinking about that poor family in Stillwater. Your heart is just ripped out. You don't even know if it's going to beat one more time," Mickey said.
Looking back, Mike and Mickey said they wish they'd done more to build Jonathan up, to specifically tell him they loved him just for being himself, not because of any accomplishments or meeting expectations.
"If it's one person that sees this tonight, that says, ‘Wow, I need to go hug my kid, look them in the eye and tell them how much I love him,'" Mike said.
The Lemerys have launched a "You Are Special" ad campaign and created a website to share Jonathan's story.