In memory of
Jared High
Depression  Suicide

JOSHUA'S STORY
As told in an email by his father
John Weiter

    I was just on the internet searching desperately for some clue as how to survive my son’s suicide when I discovered your site.  My son, Joshua, was just a few weeks short of his 16th birthday when he took his life on August 20, 2006.  To say I am stunned does not begin to explain my state of mind.  I never saw this coming!  There was no history of mental illness, no apparent depression, no indication this was a possibility.  I am struggling to accept that this has happened; just to get through each day; praying that the pain will somehow subside.  I don’t think that is going to happen. 
    As I replay the last few months of Joshua’s life in my mind, I can now see now all of the clues he was giving me that he needed help.  I missed them all and I should have paid closer attention to what was going on in his life.  I have so much guilt and regret for letting him down.  It is like watching the movie, “Sixth Sense.”  I missed all the clues on the first viewing, but with the advantage of a second viewing, one suddenly sees all of the clues that now appear so clear and obvious.  Joshua is also survived by his mother, Janice, my wife of the last 26 years; two sisters, Amanda 25 and Samantha 22. 
    ..

    My wife and I own a fireworks display company, and following a successful July 4th season, had planned on taking a three day weekend at the lake.  This lake is about a 4 hour drive from our house and we keep our ski boat that Joshua loved, there.  But, Josh refused to go on this trip, mostly because no friends were available to come along.  I initially delayed the trip a day and was not going to go without Josh.  Joshua was able to talk his mother and me into going without him, and in the process making us feel somehow that it was our idea.

    We arranged for his 22 year old sister to spend the weekend at our house with her brother while we went out of town.  We left that morning with Joshua still sleeping.  It all seemed so normal.  Until the next morning at 2 am.

    I was awakened by a telephone call from Joshua’s sister telling me that he had shot himself.  She didn’t know if he was alive or not.
     
    We jumped into our truck, partially dressed and began our journey through hell.  The gates of hell opened with a telephone call, and then closed behind me as I drove 4 hours to the hospital.  I have not been able to escape hell since.

    My wife is a Registered Nurse at the hospital where Josh was taken.  For some unknown reason, the attending physician decided to tell my wife that Joshua, was being kept alive on life support, but that he was “fixed and dilated,” brain dead to us laymen.  We spent the last hour of our drive knowing that there was no hope for our son.  We then made the most difficult decision of a life – to donate organs.  He was maintained on life support for the next 18 hours before being taken to the operating room for the procedure.

    Our journey then took us to a funeral home to make the arrangements for our son’s burial.  I remember being asked by the funeral director how many prayer cards I wanted.  How many prayer cards?  How was I supposed to know?  I asked him how many are typically ordered.  He said 100-200, so I asked for 250 because Joshua was so young.  Our parish priest had accompanied us and suggested that since and my wife and I are fairly well known in our community, that we get at least 500.  Well, over 1,100 people showed up including several hundred kids.  All I could think of was where were all of these kids when Josh was looking for someone to go to the lake with.  Where were they then!  I’d still have my son and I wouldn’t be trapped in hell.  It would just have been a normal weekend.  I asked each of these kid’s to kneel before Joshua’s closed casket and say a prayer for him.  I just wanted Josh to know that he had so many friends and that he is loved.


I found no relief in Joshua’s wake – all those people and no one could tell me how it came to this.  His funeral mass filled our Church to overflowing capacity, but again I found no answers.  I must send you the homily that Father Leo said for Josh.  It was beautiful!  He discussed how he believed that in Joshua’s mind, taking his own life was somehow a confused and misguided act of love.  A friend who suffered a similar tragedy commented later that he had waited nine years for someone to tell him those words.  They tell me that nearly 200 cars were in Joshua’s funeral procession, but I still feel so alone and abandoned.  I can’t explain it.  In the days following his burial, I began to feel afraid that he would be forgotten as people got on with their lives.  I then began planning a celebration of Joshua’s life.  I was still looking for some form of comfort and acceptance that neither his wake, funeral or burial provided

.So on his 16th birthday, September 26, 2006, we held a huge party for Joshua.  I had this event in a park very near where Joshua is buried.  I wanted him to be able to see and hear the fireworks display that we provided for him. 

    I also arranged for a shuttle bus, so that the 400-500 guests could be taken to Joshua’s grave site.  I both wanted for Joshua to know that they were there and for them to know where to find him, hoping that they would return and visit him if they knew where he is buried.  I also wanted it to be Joshua’s party and not mine, so I had his ipod, completely uncensored, played through a huge professional sound system.  Josh would have loved it!!!  His friends all did! 

    Being surrounded by all those kids helped that night, but I can’t do a huge party often enough to get me through this.  I do think it had an effect though.  I didn’t waste the opportunity to reach out to these kids and tell them if they know of anyone talking about suicide to tell someone, tell anyone, tell everyone!!!  Also, the last two Fridays, car loads of kids have shown up at Joshua’s grave site.  They sit and have pizza and talk with each other, mostly telling each other their favorite Josh story. 
     
    I’m afraid that I’m beginning to ramble.  I’m not sure why I’ve sat here and laid out my horrible story.  I guess I just think that you will understand and hope you are able to offer some secret way to tell me how to survive the pain of his loss.  If you have the time look at Joshua’s on-line guest book.  I think it provides some insight to him from other people the address for his guest book is -   (http://www.legacy.com/STLToday/DeathNotices.asp?Page=MailStory&PersonID=18970256).

    You see Joshua was picked on in grade school.  As he grew older he also grew taller.  Joshua was over 6’3” tall and towered over most of the one time bullies.  He hated to see anyone picked on and if he did he always went to their defense.  He was a great supporter of the underdog.  I carry a coin representing Saint Jude in Joshua’s honor.  You see Saint Jude is the Patron Saint of Hopeless Causes, so was Joshua. 

    Godspeed and God bless you,  (and as Joshua would surely say,  Peace…)

    John

    Emails can be sent to John at John@gatewayfireworks.com
    A link to Joshua's memorial website can be found at www.gatewayfireworks.com
     
    Information and Support within JaredStory.com

    SUICIDE: 'BEEN THERE, DONE THAT'
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    What do people say about JaredStory.com and Suicide - 
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    Depression - What it is and what it isn't - 
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    What happens to the person who dies by suicide? - 
    Gods Love, Mercy & Judgment

About Suicide
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Bullycide in America: Moms Speak Out about the bullying/suicide connection
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