The Suicidal Boy
In the past I worked at a mental health clinic that had a contract with Albuquerque Public Schools to do assessments on suicidal children and teens.
One day a boy, Marcus (not his real name), came with his mother, referred by the school system. His talk frightened his friends so they told the school counselor who in turn called us.
Before the intake I learned that two months earlier this fifteen year old sat on his living room floor with a loaded hand gun while a courageous APD officer talked the gun out of his hand. It took two hours. Afterwards Marcus went through the usual course of treatment at a mental health facility. After he got out, they referred him to our clinic.
As it happened I was assigned to work with him. Every week either his mother or his grandmother brought him to see me.
I learned that he didn’t know where his father was. He left the family eight years earlier, when Marcus was 7. Marcus’ mother remarried 5 years later when Marcus was 12.
Marcus told me that none of his siblings, who were all older, wanted their mother to marry their new step-father. He had made it plain from the beginning that he didn’t want anything to do with them, and hoped they would all move out when they were eighteen.
To avoid the negative feelings from his step-father, he frequently stayed with his grandparents.
A number of times Marcus told me that no one loved him. I wondered out loud if the family's participation in family therapy didn't indicate that they cared.
He told me that they all thought he was nothing but trouble, so they brought him to counseling hoping he would cause less trouble. “They don’t care if I live or die,” he said.
Five weeks later he came in and seemed agitated. He told me that his girl friend had just ended their relationship and he was thinking about killing him self again.
“On as scale of 0-10, with 10 being the worst, how bad is it,” I asked.
“On as scale of 0-10 it’ a 35,” he said.
I called our clinical supervisor and he called the mental health facility. Marcus's grandmother drove him from our office to the in treatment center. That was a Thursday before a long holiday weekend.
Friday I touched base with the family therapist assigned to the family. She told me that Marcus had been admitted on the spot, and was still there.
She also told me that Marcus’ family told her they had planned a camping trip in the mountains and decided to go since there wasn’t anything they could do for their son. She explained that he needed them now more than ever, but her words fell on deaf ears.
That’s when I realized Marcus believed his family did not love him. I never saw him again. The parents dropped all therapy with our clinic. I hope he made it. He was a kind, thoughtful boy.
Fortunately, most of the depressed teens we see at Bill Jacobs LPCC, have supportive families. That's good because, no matter what they might say, teens we see want and need the love and care that family provides.