Editor’s note: This is part two of a multi-part series on depression, suicide and mental health in youth and how families can address these issues openly and proactively with children.
Depression killed Jim Page.
Of this his parents are sure.
Tim and Sandy Page would tell people that when they asked how Jim died.
“And I know they were asking, ‘Did he shoot himself? Did he hang himself? How did he die?’” Tim said. “Well, depression killed him. And they looked at me like, ‘What?’ Yep, it’s no different than a cancer, a brain tumor, a heart attack; it was depression.”
About eight weeks shy of his 17th birthday, Jim passed away Dec. 4, 2004.
Unlike many teen victims of suicide, Jim didn’t die in his house but on the other side of town from his Ripon home.
“He didn’t do it here because he didn’t want us to have the memory that he took his life here at home,” Tim said. “So when he did that, he didn’t do it here specifically for us.”
At the time of his suicide, the Pages were unaware Jim was suffering from depression.
But they began to realize the truth the night he passed away when groups of Jim’s friends came to Tim and Sandy’s Union Street driveway to share memories and grieve his death.
As they spoke with the Pages, Sandy described how the kids heard these fragments of stories pointing towards Jim’s depression, “and then they put it all together and went, ‘Wow.’”
“The reason ... we didn’t pick up on it is because he was a typical 16-year-old boy,” Tim said. “... Once we started putting all the puzzle pieces together, then we realized that he was really suffering for probably the last three months.”
But, like so many others, there was more to this typical 16-year-old boy than meets the eye.
Read the full story with more of the Pages' tale in the March 2, 2017 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.