My son got a text from his university safety office telling of an unattended death. This death occurred in a residence hall. My heart stopped for just a moment. My first thought was how sad it sounded. My second thought went fleetingly to my son’s roommate. He’s been struggling lately. Was it wrong of my to be relieved that it was a different dorm? I hope not.
As more information came out, it seems that a young man took his life. Campus rumor was that he hanged himself. I don’t know if that’s true, but it sounds horrifying. Initially, I wondered how. Where did he do this in his room??? The closet? from something on the ceiling? Logistics don’t make sense. I know that’s a terrible thought to have. How alone must he have felt to decide that was his only option? What about his roommate? Did he have a roommate? How must his parents feel? What about the people on his floor? In his dorm?
This morning, I found an article in the university paper. Some boys on the floor noticed a smell coming from the room and realized they hadn’t seen the kid for a while. They told the RA and police were called. The article said that the boy had been dead for days. He was hanging. For days????? How does that happen????? Why did nobody notice him missing? Had his parents been in contact? Did he have parents? What must those poor kids who found him be thinking? What about the RA who didn’t notice a student hadn’t been around? How much guilt is he feeling? Should he feel guilty? Is the University liable for anything? What drove this boy to kill himself? Why did nobody notice???? Where was his roommate? His friends? Did he have any?
I keep coming back to “unattended,” and that scares me. How can a kid on a campus of 30,000 be “unattended” for days? I’ve been there, you can’t go five feet without bumping in to someone. How can you make yourself so invisible that nobody notices that they haven’t seen you for a few days? Why are we so unaware of those around us that NOBODY appears to have realized this kid wasn’t where he should be? What was his relationship with his adults that they didn’t think about not having heard from him for a few days? How can a kid living in a busy dorm be able to be “unattended” long enough to have “hanged himself days ago”?
I kept kissing my son’s forehead this morning before I left for work. I’m sure it annoyed him. He’s a tired college kid! I blocked the stairway to the basement so my daughter couldn’t come upstairs without walking into my arms. She hates hugs! I’ve fought tears for a boy I don’t know since last night. I can’t get an image of an “unattended” boy hanging from a structure in his dorm room for days. Why??? Why???? What was the brokenness that led him to this choice? What was the last thought that ran through his head? Had he planned it for weeks? Was it spur of the moment? Why???
Hug your kids! Our college aged kids are so vulnerable right now. They need our presence, they crave our attention. Find out what’s going on in their lives. Ask about grades, friends, expectations, disappointments, booze, parties, average hot girls, etc. My son probably gets tired of me asking if he’s drinking or taking drugs. It’s always been part of our conversations. He expects it. I’m going to assume that one day I’ll hate the answer I get. We’ll roll with that when it happens. You’ve got to get your kids to talk to you. You aren’t their besties, you’re their moms and their dads. You get to ask the tough questions. You have the right to expect answers. You can be mad, hurt, disappointed, angry. You can be embarrassed because you don’t feel you have any right to get angry because you did it too. Please don’t leave your college kid “unattended” under the guise of them being adults. They really aren’t. They’re still kids. They need you to parent. He needs a hug from his mama. She cries out to have her daddy call her princess. College is scary. For our babies and their parents.
Say a prayer, if you would, for that “unattended” kid, his family, his friends, and the countless others just like him. Hug your babies tighter next time you see them. Let them know you love them.
God bless you, kiddo.