Mother affected by suicide speaks out
A Red Deer mother whose son committed suicide last year has a word of caution for parents.
“If a child says they’re going to hurt themselves, take them seriously,” said Maryanne Nonay.
Her son Brett Watts, 17, killed himself last May.
“He gave me the words and I thought he was being a dramatic teenager. He gave me the words and I didn’t believe him.”
Nonay, 48, said they were arguing when he threatened to commit suicide — and he did — without any warning.
Watts, a Hunting Hills High School student, had never attempted suicide before.
She said he was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a type of autism, when he was in middle school and was bullied. He didn’t socialize. He was a loner. And he had to deal with issues that came from his parents’ divorce.
“His self-esteem was very brittle.”
Even though Nonay attended a support group for people impacted by suicide, she was surprised that so many teens in the Red Deer area had committed suicide in the past year.
“It’s bad enough for yourself, but to think other people have to go through that to, it’s horrible.”
Six local suicides were reported online in February by youth trying to bring awareness to the issue.
Nonay said she has been reading the sad stories people have posted on the Facebook page that was created and has posted comments herself to let people know how much suicide impacts those who are left behind.
She said there were probably different triggers for each of the teens who died.
“It would be lovely if we could label them all as something particular, fix it up, and be done. But it’s a variety of things I’m sure.”
Nonay decided to speak to the media and join the community movement to encourage suicide awareness and prevention.
“I’m glad to see people are talking about it and being made aware it’s happening all around us.”
She planned to attend the public information session on suicide awareness held Wednesday night at Red Deer College’s Cenovus Learning Centre.
It was the first of two community meetings organized by Alberta Health Services - Mental Health and Suicide Information and Education Services.
The next meeting will be held on Tuesday, also at Cenovus Learning Centre, from 7 to 9 p.m.
For more information contact Noreen McCallum at Alberta Health Services - Mental Health at 403-340-4898, or Laura MacNeill at Suicide Information and Education Services at 403-342-4966.