real life

'My son is 10 and has suicidal thoughts. I know he's not the only one.'

Content warning: This post includes discussion of suicide that may be distressing to some readers. 

My beautiful, gregarious boy is back at school after the holidays, and the terror is coming in waves. He's 10 years old. It's been 10 years of laughs and frustration.

I remember him learning how to ride a bike in our back garden, now he’s flying off cliffs on said bike and coming home covered in mud. My baby, with the round face and rounder cheeks, dimples for days. The reason my chest aches with love. I check his direct messages regularly; he knows this. We talk about the ups and downs entwined between "yoyoyoyoyoyoyoyoooooo" and "BRUV", typical tween not-teen-yet angst.

Watch: Breaking the stigma around children's mental health. Post continues after video.

Video via Children's Hospital Colorado.

In those little messages my heart dropped, sunk. You know that cold wave that rushes over your shoulders, icy cold swooshing over your chest, an invisible tsunami of frozen fear that engulfs your ribs and heart then dumps into your stomach?

"I've been suicidal for a few years."

You’re too young, my brain screamed. You shouldn’t know about suicide and the feeling of black-hole sadness accompanied by no hope and no thoughts, emptiness. I’ve been there but I’m an adult, you aren’t even 13, sweetheart. 


My own suicidal thoughts and self-harm anguish started in Year 8, along with bulimia. It all clustered together and manifested at school and at home. I wasn’t in junior school though. In junior school I was going to the Milk Bar for Hubbabubba and sherbet dip. I was watching ABC as soon as I got home, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, making fairy displays and decorating my room. Life wasn’t saccharine. My parents had physical, rip-roaring fights that went from one end of the house to the other. I remember pressing my little frame against the bedroom wall to escape a fist. Even with that, I wasn’t suicidal. Here was my little boy, from a calm home, dinners together talking at the table, support systems in place – suicidal. How could this happen to him with all the help, resources and love in the world?

First, I looked at statistics. Statistically suicide rates are low in his age group, statistically the chance of death by suicide is comparatively low. Statistics don’t measure the fear in a mother’s heart though. They do not speak to the pain and fear of the unknown school day – will he be alone today? Will nobody talk to him? I found out, through our chats, that he had asked some other children to question his peers: "would you care if I died?". Two children said no, out of naïve, underdeveloped brains, out of their own disappointment in things that had happened. I hold no ill will towards them. He grasped onto those two children and their spur-of-the-moment responses and believed them to be wholly, utterly true. He perceived this angst to be the complete truth for everyone – it’s just nobody else said it. 

My sweetheart. You are not two responses to a frustrated, desperate question. He came home from basketball the other night and looked depleted. During the game he was laughing and talking to his friend, then as soon as it was over, back to such sadness. If that doesn’t scream depression, then I’m not sure what does.


We have taken him to the GP, pediatrician and psychiatrist, the cost has been astronomical. I cannot imagine how difficult it must be for people who don’t have the financial means, the wait times for public healthcare are through the roof and every single day counts when you’re a child. In a few days we are seeing a psychologist, he is seeing a psychologist.

I’m hoping for a miracle, coping mechanisms that work the first time, clouds that break, sunshine pouring through. I’m hopeful for my brave little Bob the Builder to come back, the boy who isn’t a puddle of silence. When he was getting dressed for school I crouched down and held him so close, squeezed his little body into a hug and told him we would work together. His eyes swelled with tears, "I know, Mama". I tell him this daily, we talk openly, we walk and dissect the day as the sun dips away. I hold his hand in mine and think that if I just hold a little tighter and a little longer, I’ll never have to say goodbye prematurely. Just hold on, darling. Just hold on.

The author of this story is known to Mamamia but has chosen to remain anonymous for privacy reasons.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Getty.