By Steele Campbell
On February 2, 1995 at 7:56 AM our family’s life changed. Our son, Brandon Steele Campbell, was born.
Then on January 2, 2012 at 4:51 PM our family’s lives changed for a second time, taking a turn down a very dark path that seemingly knows no end. It was the day my wife and I came home to discover Brandon had taken his own life.
It was like at that moment I was in a dream state. My wife screaming, “NO GOD, PLEASE NOT THIS BRANDON!” This could not be happening to us. As we waited for the police and ambulance to arrive, only one word kept going through my head, “Why?”
Brandon was caring, bright, and witty; he had a great future ahead of him. I could see him as an economist, a teacher, or maybe an actor. He was not into drugs, booze, or anything like that. He was an accomplished scuba diver with over 50 dives. When he put his mind to it he could focus and accomplish anything he desired. We were a family that did many wonderful things together and determined to live our lives to the fullest extent together.
But he did struggle. He struggled with Asperger Syndrome and making friends. We know now that is what he desired most.
I do not write this for sympathy. We’ve had massive amounts of that over the past 3 years. I write this to talk to all of the parents of troubled teens, and to the teens themselves.
Parents, know the warning signs. If your child shows signs or comes right out and tells you that they have contemplated taking their own life, please take it very seriously. Do everything you can do to get your child help. Monitor them, their computers, phones, their school work, everything. Never let your guard down.
Teens, if you’re struggling, THERE IS HOPE AND HELP. Maybe you feel alone and isolated from your parents, friends, everyone; but Teen Lifeline is one of those places that genuinely wants to listen to you and your troubles.
Should you think that no one will miss you, you are greatly mistaken. Should you think the world would be a better place without, you are flat out wrong.
By taking your own life, the heartache of those that you know, those you care about, and those that care about you, will forever have a gaping hole in their souls. They will go through the rest of their lives asking questions for which there are no answers. Their grief will only fully disappear when they too have passed.
For myself, as time wears on, what Brandon did may dull a little but it’s always there. Always lurking in my mind and waiting for a moment to jump out and drag me down into that bottomless pit. So many things trigger my feelings; driving by your old school, hearing a song you liked on the radio, scuba diving with your sister. The list could go on and on. All because of a desperate moment where emotions overcame logic.
I cannot speak for my wife or Brandon’s sister; however, as his father, it is this forever emptiness in my very being. We were close. We did all sorts of wonderful things together. How could this god-awful thing happen? Brandon, you broke your promise to call me if you were in trouble.
I am forever changed for the worse.
I am not angry, mind you, just very disappointed.
If you or your loved one is struggling with depression or thoughts of suicide. Please reach out. Teen Lifeline is there for teens and their parents to help with whatever struggles you may be going through. There is help and there is hope. Please call 602-248-TEEN or 800-248-TEEN.