Ask Abbie: Grandmother needs to come to grandson’s defense now

Published 11:16 am Saturday, April 26, 2014

Question: Help. I don’t know how to handle my 15 year-old grandson who I think may be suicidal. He’s more than just moody; he stays down more than he stays up. I have even heard him say his life has “no meaning” and he talks a lot about dying and death. It is really hard for me to know what to do because his parents seem unaware of what is going on. As his grandparent and not his parent, what should I do if anything?

Answer: Starting today you are no longer to think of your grandson as suicidal, but instead as a grandson who has become the innocent victim of unjust circumstances which have led to his suicidal thoughts. The importance of this initiative is to help you maintain a spirit of non-judgment toward your grandson and his feelings. Your ability to do so is your best weapon for attacking and conquering any enemy, including those related to suicide, who comes against your grandson.

To help you see your grandson from this necessary perspective of non-judgment, consider Ron, a sober 16-year-old who agreed to drive a drunken friend’s car home for him one night after a party so his friend would stay off the road. Soon after Ron pulled away from the scene of the party, a routine traffic stop came into his sight. Without hesitation the proudly sober Ron stopped and the drug-dog on duty began to bark fiercely.

Unbeknownst to Ron there was drug paraphernalia in the glove box and two eight balls of crack tucked under the back seat. He was charged with possession with intent to sell. Obviously he was the victim of unfortunate circumstances, which led to undeserved repercussions; he was not a drug-dealer who finally got what he deserved. Make a conscious effort to get in touch with your underlying feelings of non-judgment, compassion, and desire to help Ron; now, ask yourself the following.

Would you come to Ron’s defense if you had evidence that you knew would clear him of the drug charges or would you choose to sit idly by and do nothing? Hopefully, you would take action quickly before he was convicted, because you, as a citizen, have a responsibility to do so. Although you are not responsible for his outcome, you are responsible for being responsive to his needs.

Your grandson’s situation is analogous. As seen from a non-judgmental perspective, his apparent depression is the undeserved effect of unfortunate and non-purposefully chosen circumstances and is likely leading to suicidal thoughts.

At this time, it is not important to focus on the questions surrounding these circumstances, but is important to come to his defense quickly before he is officially convicted of suicide. As with your role as a citizen in Ron’s case, although you are not responsible for your grandson’s outcome, you as his grandparent are responsible for being responsive to his needs.

Even though you don’t have the legal right to arrange professional treatment for your grandson, you can encourage him to open his heart to another individual such as a counselor, who would have the authority to initiate direct action. Think positively by having a good counselor already in mind. If you need help finding one in your area, I suggest contacting Focus on the Family’s Counseling Department at 855-771-HELP (4357) or at Their staff can get you in touch with a well-trained professional who is convenient to wherever your grandson may be.

In addition to the fact that depression is among the three most prevalent risk factors for youth suicide, the others being drug use and problems with disruptive or aggressive behavior, the following unfavorable demographic data with regard to your grandson’s specific case make it especially important for you to take immediate action on his behalf.

According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third leading cause of death among youth (10-24 year-olds). Annually, 157,000 youth receive medical treatment for self-inflicted injuries. There are approximately 4,600 youth suicides every year and 81 percent of those are males.

In conclusion, as you start to correct the injustice already inflicted upon your grandson, remain focused on his well-being, avoid being accusatory of him, try to make sure he has constant supervision, and remove any obvious means he could use for self-harm. He needs you to come to his defense now before his route home is stopped by the authorities and his fate is put into the custody of the enemy.

ABBIE-FOX WORRELL is a Franklin native and advice columnist for The Tidewater News. Submit your questions to