Retreat addresses Douglas County's suicide levels

On June 29 to July 1 myself and numerous other teenagers participated in a retreat. This retreat for some was something to do for summer, getting away from home, and for others something more personal. Not only was this retreat fun but at times taken to the next level on trying to achieve what seems like the impossible. Stopping suicide in Douglas County and all over Nevada. This suicide retreat was hosted by Debbie Posnien. With four leaders Debbie was able construct a retreat that taught about signs of suicide and what to do if your friend is suicidal. We played games and shared from personal experiences from all aspects of suicide.

One girl shared about her deaf brother who at times questioned why it was him who would never be able to listen to music or enjoy a normal conversation. It was a great example about someone who if got low enough could be susceptible to suicide. After talking about cases where some kids could easily get depressed and could perhaps at times think about suicide we got more serious and I shared my story. My story was about my Nana who committed suicide a short 8 months ago. If it wasn't for her I don't think I would have ever gotten involved on trying to stop the high suicide rate. Here is the story that I had shared at the retreat.

Tortoises, Birds, Cats

The things that could bring up past memories of someone you loved will always remain. My Nana was a person in my life. The one that gave birth to my mom and aunt. She could have been a wonderful Nana. I like to believe that she had always wanted to, but could never break down those barriers that prevented her from being able to be that special person in my life that has many names. Maybe Grandma, Grammy, Grams. But no Nana. Nana was what she had wanted me to call her the day I came out of my mother's womb. She had loved her Nana and she wanted to be the Nana in my life.

For me the memories of my Nana were here sitting on a couch with a pile of blankets, because our house was always too cold. Or maybe she was trying to warm something up that couldn't be warmed by the heat from our heater. Her better days were when I was younger. Only pictures can represent a time when we went hiking or camping. Only pictures can show me proof that those events existed.

She loved having tortoises, she always fed the birds with the bag of peanuts sitting next to her sliding glass door to her backyard, and loved her cats more than she had loved being seen by prying eyes outside of her home. Memories that slip away with each passing day and pictures that fade over time.

Battling depression, anxiety, alcoholism, and the past. It's never easy. Suicidal thoughts through those hardest of pressing times. The times when you feel like you have nothing else to live for. I always knew there was problems, issues, abnormalities with my Nana. Catching snippets of my mom's conversations over the phone when I was little when I should been catching lady bugs, butterflies, and other insects and such in my bug catcher. It was a long battle for my Nana and she overcame it the only way she knew how. Suicide.

It wasn't a first in our family. My Nana's father had also ended his own life with the trigger of a gun. My mom being the last one to see him alive on that day, that day that has always haunted her. I wish that I could have been able to meet him when I was old enough to remember him. He had taken his life away when I was just a baby. She is probably happy in his caring arms for eternity.

For my Nana it wasn't the first time she had thought about suicide or even tried. Drug overdoses, and begging my mom for her gun back. She finally succeeded on November 17, 2009. Only a short eight months ago that seems like a life time. Her abusive husband found her on the bed with her Bible pressed against her chest. Her makeup done, hair fixed, and the tan she had been working on as soon as the snow had melted. A successful drug overdose.

For the funeral there were people that attended for condolences to our family, people that knew her, and the few close relatives able to attend. It was a short sweet service or maybe more sour sweet than anything. My Nana planned her own service. She would have wanted it just like that. Short and sweet but more like sour sweet.

I did love my Nana. But not the way I could have, or more the way I potentially should have. She was always withdrawn from us in her own collapsing world. A world that she thought could never be fixed. Throughout her life I don't think she was ever genuinely happy or ever let herself be. Some of it could have been genetic. She wasn't the first person in our family that battled with alcoholism. And the anxiety attacks that came whenever the holidays rolled around. My mom would always invite her to our Christmases, Thanksgivings, and Easters but only about 40% of the time did she ever take her up on her offer. Maybe it was the thought of leaving her hole that she had dug herself, or maybe it was plain guilt when she came and saw her grandkids and could only think of the Nana that she ought to have been or could have been. But now she no longer needs to worry.

I wish that I could have told her before that day, that oh so dreadful day. That I understood and understood more then she had ever wanted me too. That she didn't have to hide anything, that there was a way out, that soon enough you could be in heaven and that you didn't have to end your life yourself. That you could have kept on living and died of old age. God would be waiting no matter what.

Writing this has made me think. Thinking for the better on what my Nana's suicide meant to me. On how it has affected me as a person and not being able to fathom on how hard it is for someone to lose their best friend to suicide or maybe someone that they had always been close to. It was a different experience for me, one that I will happily share and use to help those who have had experienced harder era's in their life than me. I can become a person with more empathy for others. Thank you Nana.

For those of you that don't know; Nevada has the highest suicide rate in the nation, and Douglas County has the highest suicide rate out of all of the counties in the nation. This is an issue that needs to be brought to light so that everyone could help in this race against suicide.

These are the people that we are thankful for in participating in this retreat.

Aryana Petroski was one of two dozen teenagers who participated


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