Three teenagers killed themselves in Mount Juliet, Tennessee last year. Austin Watson almost made it four.
“I thought about shooting myself, or taking pills. I couldn’t see a future for me,” he told WTVF, the ABC affiliate in Nashville. “I couldn’t see any potential, and so I thought I don’t belong in this world.”
The thing that saved Watson, who had been depressed for much of his young life, was the fact that he reached out to his mother in one last, desperate cry for help. He told her goodbye, giving her the chance to spring into action and drag her child back from the brink.
Tammy Watson told WTVF that she was, “Horrified actually, a lot of crying, soul searching and I didn’t let him out of my sight.”
Austin knows now that he could have gotten the help he needed from his family years sooner than he did, but he felt isolated, reluctant to reach out to grown ups he didn’t expect to understand what he was going through. Of course, it’s this very gap in communications that puts so many teens at risk for suicide. When you’re in the weeds of adolescence, it’s far too easy to believe that you’re alone in the dark and you’re going to be there forever. And the less you tell your parents about what’s happening to you, the more they really don’t understand and the bigger that gap becomes.
That’s Austin started his We All Matter page on Facebook. He hopes that providing safe space for teens to help each other through their struggles with suicide will provide kids who don’t feel like they can seek help from the adults in their lives with a life line.
“This website is basically a place to come share their stories or struggles,” Watson told WTVF. “It’s a judgment-free zone.”
Austin created that space by sharing his own story. Now We All Matter is becoming a haven for other kids in trouble.
“I have tried to kill myself five times,” reads on comment on the page. “I did it because I was … in pain. I get picked on for being gay, and they have put a bag over my head to tell me I should die. I thought people did not know what I went through, and here (you) tell me that I am not (the) only (one), and I know where to go to if I need help.”
While adult attempts to reach out and prove this point to kids across the country facing these problems are important, it may be that hearing from peers who are going through the same problems right now is really the only way to convince kids who feel lost and alone that help is out there.
“I am so inspired to see all of you and hear all of your stories,” Austin writes on his page. “Even if you aren’t struggling, chances are you know someone who is. You could make a huge impact on someone’s life by sharing this page. You may just become someone’s hero.”