A long-time friend of mine lost a relative to suicide recently. He was but 17. He exhibited all the potential that a bright, well educated, solid, young man might. His father consented to have this disguised version of the eulogy he delivered at his son’s funeral posted. His wish is help each of us listen; to pay attention to those in our midst who are hurting. To those whose suffering is not overtly evident but being kept hidden away. He is asking us to be alert, sensitive, and most importantly to act.
First, I would like to thank everyone for joining us this evening and sharing our memories of Adam. I am so grateful to our close friends and family, many whom have traveled great distances to show their love and support. I am thankful for the support from … and all the friends that cared for him.
I want to share an extra sentiment of appreciation to each and every person who saw Adam’s Instagram post and contacted a parent, other adult, called to my office, or reached out to my wife and I directly. Thank you. Along with my thanks to you- I have a very important message to all of us. It is not your fault. We can all love each other better. We could have all loved Adam better. No one in this room has more regrets than me. But it was not for a lack of love that Adam took his life. He was sick, and his illness overtook him. It is not our fault. It is not your fault.
Adam suffered from depression. Most of us didn’t see this darkness in him, because he often did a very good job of hiding it. When it did come out, the depression often looked like typical teenage moodiness or rebellion. When asked about his mood or how he was doing, or why he was having poor behavior, he would only let us see the surface of what was going on, or sometimes flat out lie or create a diversion. Unfortunately, Adam did not let anyone truly know what was going on inside him. You cannot help someone who doesn’t want help. It’s not your fault.
Adam was suffering immensely, and although some of us knew that something was wrong, he was so resistant to help. We were never able to really know how bad he was hurting, or what was going on, or what he needed. As his parents, we sometimes focused too much on his behavior, and then he pushed us away when we tried to see what was going on underneath the surface. To you his friends, I imagine he mostly hid what was really going on in his head. He was very good at showing people what he thought they wanted to see.
I’m afraid that by the time he started to open up to us a bit and we tried to get him help, that he still wasn’t fully transparent and had already made up his mind on how he was going to end his suffering. As you all know, Adam was extremely smart. He had been planning this for a while and knew how to hide it. He knew how to behave in a way that we wouldn’t suspect anything. He was determined to carry out his plan. And, he planned it in a way that none of us could prevent it. It is not your fault.
Adam was very sick but denied it and hid it from those who wanted to help him. He was sick with depression, an illness that is really not much different than heart disease or cancer. It is a deadly disease but can be put in remission and at times even cured, when treatment is sought. Just like with cancer, the treatments are not always easy and the afflicted must be willing to go through the process to be healed. Although medication and counseling are some of the most powerful tools against depression, they are not the only ones. In fact, they often will not work by themselves.
The depressed also needs others to come alongside them and support them in their journey to healing. The tragedy of Adam is that he had this, he had everyone in this room, and yet he didn’t share his pain with us. Perhaps he didn’t want us to suffer with him? But we would have loved to help him heal and ease the pain, so he wouldn’t feel like his only option was taking matters into his own hands.
But for every Adam, there are 9 other people struggling with depression who want help. Those who will open up if we take the time to ask. Who will gladly receive love and not push it away? If you think you know someone else who is suffering, don’t let our experience with Adam discourage you from trying to help someone else. Keep pursuing them, even if they push you away at first. If you are struggling with depression, please open up. Please don’t be afraid to tell someone. We want to know; we want to help. It’s ok if you’re embarrassed about your thoughts and feelings, we will still love and accept you. Don’t believe the lies in your head that you won’t be loved, or that you’re not good enough, or that no-one will understand, or that our sympathy is not sincere, or that we will reject you, or that you are unworthy of friendship and love, or that you are hopeless, or that it is not worth it. Those are lies. God does love you, and there is a congregation of people who want to love you also. You don’t have to do anything extreme to experience this love and see that it is true. You just need to be honest and share.
If you are not struggling with depression, be a good friend and loving family member. Be sincere. Don’t try to hide your own struggles and insecurities. Be courageous enough to show others the real you, so they will be comfortable being real with you also. Your love could be lifesaving.
I loved Adam very much and will continue to love him. I will always miss him. I know we all will. We will miss the healthy Adam. We will remember the times when the waves of depression were shallow, and we could see the real Adam rise above them. To look into his bright eyes; see his big smile; hear his boisterous laugh; giggle at his pranks: awe at his intelligence; admire that he could not be beat in Mario Kart or Super Smash bros; and cheer him on as he ran. These are the types of memories we will cherish.
These are some of my favorite memories of Adam:
- Doing Algebra as a 4 or 5-year-old, watching him think outside the box, and how he impressed all of us with his intelligence
- The trip to Disneyland in 4th grade
- Playing board games
- Watching him race and get a PR
- How excited he’d sometimes get over a new idea, him laughing at his own jokes
- Ping pong- just last week watching him and Mike play
- Best memories were when he showed love to his siblings – laughing with Michelle and playing with Mike or playing with his little cousins.