Growing up I never knew of anyone who died by suicide, I don’t remember it being talked about in our home. It wasn’t talked about in school, or in my training as a teacher aide, wasn’t mentioned in 4-H or Girl Scouts. It wasn’t mentioned at doctors appointments. It wasn’t mentioned when my mom started taking antidepressants when I was a young teen.
It wasn’t really talked about until my oldest son told us about his attempt to end his life. I got a phone call from my husband saying that Hudson, our oldest, had attempted to end his life the night before and that we needed to get him somewhere for help. I quickly googled “where to go after a suicide attempt” and only one option popped up so we went there. Even after an inpatient stay and sitting down with a therapist we still didn’t know what to look for or what to ask.
I honestly didn’t think about suicide or it being a possibility until it happened. January 26, 2016 our oldest son, Hudson, died by suicide. He died just nine months after his inpatient care. During those nine months we thought we were doing everything we should be doing… trying to allow him his space but yet still being loving and caring and present. We had him in therapy with both a therapist and a psychologist. He came out to us saying that he was unsure if he was gay or bisexual, he became comfortable enough to wear makeup around the house. We thought we were on the path to a happier and healthier Hudson. Little did we know that the love he was giving us, the constant effort to be present with his younger siblings, often taking his crying baby sister off my hands or wrestling with his brother was really him giving all that he had left. For those last nine months, we felt Hudson was getting better. What we didn’t realize was that Hudson was in a world of pain and always knew what to say as to not reveal what he was really struggling with.
After Hudson passed we started researching teen suicide. We soon learned that it is the second leading cause of death for his age group. We quickly learned that 1 in 5 youth think about suicide. We learned that there are three specific questions you should ask someone you think is contemplating ending their life. We learned that we should have gone to the ER or one of the area hospitals versus the only option that popped up on that google search many months ago.
Every time I learned something else about suicide my anger level increased. How did I not know this beforehand? Why didn’t a doctor or a therapist sit with us and explain to us what to ask? Why didn’t I learn about this at school? Why don’t doctors ask questions about this when you go for your yearly check up? Why? Why? Why?
The questions became endless so we knew that something had to be done. We couldn’t allow this to happen to someone else. So through our pain, tears and sleepless nights we created a non-profit called Project Hud;Son. We quickly started speaking to churches, schools, youth groups, other non profit organizations for LGBTQ youth. We found that we were able to “get in” to churches and schools because of our story and how it hit so close to home for so many. Here is the thing with suicide. It doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t care how much money you have or where you are from. Suicide can happen to any family. To any community. To any school.
It wasn’t always easy to get out of bed. To eat. To pay bills. It was really really hard. Gut-wrenching, soul crushing hard. It was unbearable at times trying to explain to a five year old that his brother wasn’t coming home, he asked for nearly a year. Every time he asked it was like someone had taken my heart out of my chest and stopped on it yet again. We lost friends because we just weren’t ourselves anymore. I can’t imagine how many tears were shed in the years after our loss. To be honest I can’t remember much of what happened the two years after… it is a blur of sadness. I can’t remember when Hudson’s sister started solid foods, I can’ t remember her first steps. I can’t remember Hudson’s brothers first day of school or when teeth were lost. I do remember each event we had, the parents educators and others that contacted us about speaking. I remember the hundreds of kids we talked to that opened up to us about their struggles. I know we saved some lives through our pain but I also know that those events and conversations were what powered us through some of our darkest times.
We are now five years after our loss and we have found our routine. I won’t say we are back to normal because reality is that is never going to happen. We still have bad days and sad days and days where you just wonder why or what if. We still have days that we find ourselves at the cemetery eating lunch and talking with our angel. Holidays are torture. Through years of therapy and support from our closest and truest friends we now know how to better handle and navigate these days.
As a family, we have devoted our lives to remembering Hudson and believing that he died for a cause. A cause to make a better tomorrow for our youth, a cause to improve the quality of life of every person suffering from depression, bullying, self-harm, and the challenges of suicidal ideation.
As parents, we do not want the legend of our son to be that he died by suicide. We want the legend of Hudson W. Scott to be of the enlightening effect of his smile when he walked into a room. We want it to be about the blind and endless love of this heart that he shared with so many. We want to remember the forward-thinking brilliance of a young mind, wanting nothing more than a place where all can be accepted and loved. Where all are given the opportunity to see the hope on the other side of their darkest times. A world where we are enabled with the resources to fight through our darkest times. A world where everyone has someone to listen when they need it the most.
We must now fight for a world where the struggles of mental health are recognized in the same way as any other health risks. Unfortunately, now we know the need for this all too well. We hope that through raising awareness and sharing our pain, you too will recognize and support the need to live more like Hudson felt we should. For all that he gave, we owe that to him.
Jenna Scott and family
I am so honored to know the Scott family, and I’m grateful to Jenna for writing this beautiful and raw post! Check out this wonderful organization online at www.projecthudson.org #flyhighhudson #projecthudson -Mae