CORNER BROOK — Looking back, Mary Fisher said there are some things she definitely missed.
“But it wasn’t like in-your-face obvious by any means,” said the Corner Brook mother.
Fisher and her husband Bill lost the youngest of their three children, Jason, to suicide in June 2007.
On Tuesday she shared her story with two groups of students at Corner Brook Regional High.
The presentations were the fourth and fifth she’s done in the last few weeks.
Fisher doesn’t tell the students how Jason died.
“The bottom line is he lost his life to suicide,” she said between sessions, adding how he carried it out has nothing to do with what she’s trying to accomplish.
What Fisher wants to accomplish is to try and help prevent another young person from taking his or her life, to prevent another family from going through what her family has and to keep a promise to Jason to not let his death be in vain.
“He was an awesome kid,” said Fisher.
He loved to ride dirt bike and salmon fish and in the weeks prior to his death continued to do all that. Just a couple of weeks before his death Jason got the dirt bike of his dreams. He also had a job for the summer and was planning a fishing trip with a friend.
Fisher said there wasn’t any change in his behaviour, nothing to flag.
He wrote his last exam as a Level 2 student on June 11 the day Fisher, her husband and two daughters, Tracy and Lori, left for Portugal.
Jason never made the trip with them. Sightseeing wasn’t his thing, his mother said, and he had his new dirt bike.
“And I thought ‘wow, he’s on Cloud 9 now. Awesome,’” Fisher said. “He won’t even notice us gone now for three weeks.”
In the days leading up to the trip Fisher recalls how Jason didn’t seem excited about his parents going away and having the house to himself. She wonders if that was one of the signs she should have picked up on.
She said thinking of her son committing suicide was not something she thought she had to worry about. The thoughts and fears she had were of him having a big party or getting in trouble while they were gone.
During the trip the family was in contact with home and only once does Fisher remember getting a strange feeling from Jason.
“I remember the tone in his voice,” she said as he asked her about Portugal and what it was like there.
Before she got off the phone she told Jason she loved him and his reply was ‘I love you, too.’
Later she would say to one of her daughters that Jason seemed down and the response was that he probably just missed them.
On June 30, two days before his parents were to return home, Jason killed himself.
“There was no note,” said Fisher.
“I’m still asking questions to this day. How in God’s name did this happen? This was an awesome kid. There was nothing diagnosed in him.”
Now she figures Jason was suffering from depression, but then she said she saw more moodiness in other teenagers than she did in him.
In 2009 Fisher started organizing suicide awareness and prevention walks for World Suicide Prevention Day, but all along wanted to do more and knew that included talking to people.
It took her almost five years to build not only the message she wanted to share, but the strength to do it.
Fisher suffers from anxiety and depression and some days doesn’t know how she’ll cope.
But she knows there are others out there like her who may be naive to think this just happens of certain types of kids.
“That’s so not true. I realize there’s no profile,” she said. “I realize that suicide can happen to anybody ... There’s a lot of parents out there that got kids just like Jason, and I bet they’ll miss it just like I did and I got to do something about it.”
And then there’s the promise she made to her son.
“If I don’t try to do something positive with it, then he died for nothing, and I just couldn’t have that because too many more kids are going to fall down in that same place where Jason did if I don’t try to make people aware.”
Awareness and education, she said, are the key to preventing suicide.
Sadness, hopelessness, crying
Irritability, hostility, anger
Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
Withdrawal from family and friends
Loss of interest in well-liked activities
Changes in eating, sleeping habits or personal appearance
Sudden weight changes
Sudden mood changes
Lack of energy
Talking about death or suicide
Giving away personal possessions
Behaviour that is out of character
Warning signs you might hear:
“Nothing ever goes right for me.”
“I hate life.”
“I wish I was dead.”
“It’ll all be over soon.”
“I just can’t take it anymore.”