I sit writing this blog with tears in my eyes. When I turned on the TV to watch the local mid-day news the main story was about a 13-year-old boy who attempted to kill himself this morning. His parents had just dropped him off at school and had no idea he was suffering from the type of depression that would make him take a gun and try to blow his brains out. He was found in a seated position behind the school’s gym with a small handgun resting beside him. As of this writing, he’s in critical condition.
Two years post-Katrina, depression is still a daily part of our lives. The monumental loss of property, the loss of friends and loved ones and the slow pace of recovery adds to a somewhat grim outlook that many New Orleanians face. When we think about depression, we tend to focus on adults but we have to realize that kids are affected just as much and more in some cases. The problem is they may not be able to deal with what they are feeling. Maybe this young man’s problems were not Katrina-related but chances are it was.
Many people have asked me why I chose to move back to New Orleans given the climate. I admit as a parent I considered relocating but I decided not to abandon the city that I love, the city where my son was born. The failure of the levees caused the devastation, not Mother Nature. I am not afraid but I’m not stupid either. If a hurricane comes this way again, I’m leaving just as I did before.
As parents, we have to safeguard the mental health of our children after any traumatic event. Whether it’s a fire in California, a terrorist attack in New York or a devastating flood in New Orleans, realize that our kids will be affected. In most cases, they may not show any outward signs. Please say a prayer for this young man.