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Parents coping with teen suicide

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STILLWATER, Okla. -- The events that unfolded in Stillwater Wednesday have a lot of parents worrying if their own child could be at risk.

Experts said there are warning signs and communication is key.

Families who have directly dealt with suicide said it's been compared to surviving a concentration camp; the pain is beyond anything the rest of us can imagine.


However, it is an issue we all need to be more aware of.

Brenda Bennett, who lost her daughter to suicide, said, "There's not a day that goes by that the first thing on my mind isn't her."

Brette Diemund, Brenda's daughter, was a beautiful 16-year-old girl.

She had a 4.5 grade point average; the sophomore was on her way to becoming valedictorian and a National Merit Scholar.

All that changed back in May when Brette took her own life. 

Brenda said, "I keep thinking she'll come back."

Cindy Rose, who lost her son to suicide, said, "It's traumatic. It's tragic. It's devastating on every level."

Cindy now leads a weekly support group for survivors of suicide.

She said support is essential to making it through the tragedy.

Cindy said, "You find that a lot of people around you want you to get over it and just get over it in a hurry and get on with your life and you can't do that."

Brenda suggests keeping an eye on your child's cell phone and social media accounts.

She said, "There are things going on you will never know about. You are paying for that phone, you have the right to know if your child is going through something. Something they may not share with you but they will share on their phone with a friend."

David Harris, director of the Oklahoma Youth Suicide Prevention Initiative, said suicide is a topic all parents need to discuss with their kids.

Harris said, "Encourage them if they hear any of their friends or classmates or youth group talking about suicide or dying that they tell someone right away. That it's not tattling."

It's a loss Brenda and Cindy said you can never be prepared for.

Brenda said, "I miss her. I miss her everyday."

If you aren't sure where to start the conversation with your kids, don't worry, you're not alone. 

Unfortunately, the warning signs aren't always obvious.

  • Experts said one red flag is if your child starts giving things away that are special to him or her.
  • Also, they may talk about who would come to their funeral.
  • Some children suddenly lose interest in activities they've always loved.

If you notice any of those signs, your child may be struggling and may benefit by talking to someone they trust or a professional.


For Parents:

Support group information:
-American Foundation For Suicide Prevention    
-SOS Oklahoma    

If you need help:
-National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The service is free and confidential. Highly trained call specialists provide compassionate listening, crisis intervention, and information and referral for mental health services.