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Suicide is the second leading cause of death for everyone up to age 45. It’s a tragedy—and a full out epidemic.

So why do so many people in our world choose to kill themselves instead of living out the rest of their days?

Well, there are several reasons. From societal expectations to social media and everything in between. But another massive problem is people don’t feel comfortable talking about it.

In fact, even though I had suicidal thoughts, I had no idea my son did. I couldn’t spot it, even after he read me a cryptic story he wrote. More recently, I caught him bawling his eyes out in his car as he tried to talk his friend down from the ledge. His parents didn’t know either.

Suicide happens all the time, it’s the second leading cause of death up to age 45, after all. Yet nobody is comfortable enough to discuss it.

But you know what?

It doesn’t have to be this way. You and I have the power to change this. Forever.

And in this episode, my two oldest sons join me to discuss suicide, why it’s such a common problem, and how you can prevent suicide in your family.

Listen now.

Show Highlights Include

  • The sad truth about why “spotting the signs of suicide” won’t help (and how to actually prevent suicide) (2:14)
  • Why teenagers don’t tell anyone if they have suicidal thoughts (and how to change this before they make a fatal mistake) (6:33)
  • The weird “Hypothetical Suicide Scenario” which may save your child’s life (10:56)
  • How “renaming” your kids when they grow up frees them of nasty expectations and unlocks their true self (17:41)
  • Why expectations, even healthy expectations, add unnecessary weight and pressure to your children’s already tough lives (15:48)

If you want to radically change how much control you have over your emotions in as little as 20 days, you can go to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/feelbetternow and sign up for the Choose Your Own Emotion course.

If you or somebody you know is looking to drop the ‘F’ Bomb of freedom in your life and break free from addiction, depression, anxiety or anything that’s making you feel flat-out stuck, head over to https://thefreedomspecialist.com/ and book a call where we can look at your unique situation and give you the roadmap you’ve been missing.

If you’d like to buy a copy of my book, Is That Even Possible?: The Nuts and Bolts of Energy Healing for the Curious, Wary, and Totally Bewildered, you can find it on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/That-Even-Possible-Healing-Bewildered/dp/1512336041

Read Full Transcript

It's time to rip the cover off. What really works to ditch addiction, depression, anger, anxiety, and all other kinds of human suffering. No, not sobriety. We're talking the F word here. Freedom. We'll share straight from the trenches what we've learned from leaving our own addictions behind and coaching hundreds of others to do the same. And since it's such a heavy topic, we might as well have a good time while we're at it.

(00:35): And welcome back to the Alive and Free Podcast today. I have a couple of more guests with me. My two sons, Mister. Hello, Sorry. His name is Michael and I call him Mister and then Yoshi. Hi. And we wanted to talk about something that has a huge issue across the nation of the United States and around the world in a lot of first world countries and really civilized sort of higher end kind of neighborhoods. And it's the notion of suicide. So a lot of the statistics around suicide are growing rapidly as people continue to contemplate this, whether they're veterans. I think the number one cause of death among veterans, at least something that I read in that regard. And there's a war on suicide, which is a hilarious thing that we declare war on everything. There was a study done in, or a poll done over over a million young kids and there was a large portion of 'em, I wrote it in my book. I can't remember the exact percentage, but it was something like 17 outta 20 of 'em, or 11 outta 20.

(01:37): So that's a large spread. But a good portion of 'em had considered thoughts about suicide within the past week or two. So it wasn't just like, is it something that I've ever considered in their life, but how long they were actively thinking about it. And this is on the rise. So there are teens everywhere, people everywhere that are considering suicide because their life has become extremely uncomfortable. And the only solution that they can think of is that one. And often people find it actually comforting to decide on suicide because at least they're taking a decisive action towards solving the problems that have been plaguing them for so long because they don't have another way out. This particular situation really irks me in some ways, and it really kind of puts a fire in me because these types of emotional pains don't have to arise in people.

(02:25): They don't have to show up. And if parents and others really understand not just how to talk to people, not how to see the signs, but actually what emotions are and how they function, then this kind of angst that doesn't have to show up. But these children are growing up in an environment where there are massive amounts of expectation placed on them and where their parents are modeling, stressed out, anxious, depressed, traumatized behavior. Not intentionally, but because that's what they grew up with and they're just passing it on. And between all of us, you listening and me, we actually have the opportunity to change it. When you really understand what's going on inside the system, it's very, very simple. So I brought my kids on my oldest two boys because they're in a unique position where they come, they've come and helped out at retreats a lot of times.

(03:11): So they've been able to see people ranging in age from 14 all the way up to 83 doing and processing big things in their life. But also they have friends and some of these friends contemplate suicide and talk about it a little bit. And Michael just has had a couple of friends, one of them attempted a couple times and another one talk about it and so on. So if you wanna just gimme the state of affairs in terms of, So for you both, we were just barely talking about this and I thought it would be useful, the state of affairs in terms of, we live in a tiny little kind of farish town, not really a farm town, but a tiny little town in Utah. And there's not that many people here. There's like some 6,500 households or something like that. So not a huge amount of people, some 10,000, 20,000 ish people or something like that. Maybe a little bit more. So it's not a huge amount of people here in town. And in that space we've got all the kids in this town are going to the same high school, right? Yeah. Okay. So what grade are you In? I'm a Junior. Okay, so Michael's a junior. And you are a sophomore. Sophomore. So we got a junior and a sophomore. From your perspective, Michael, how many of the kids there are dealing with depression enough or anxiety enough or whatnot to where they're actually talking about or thinking about suicide from what you've been able to see?

(04:31): I'd say at least half, probably over half. Over half. And what is it that makes you say that? Just the way they hold themselves. And sometimes you can hear when they pass through the halls and when you're out of class, that's a lot of times when you see the people, but you can see it. So what is it that you're seeing? So How did you recognize these as signs that someone is thought about suicide or anything else? They hold themselves in almost ready for closure. What does that look Like? So it's gearing up for something to be done a project. So specifically in their body, you're passing 'em in the hall and what they're ready for closure. How do you know that it's suicidal versus looking at a project that they're finishing? Usually they have kind of a depressed chest, but still with finality in their face.

(05:37): So it's more like an expression in their eyes and something like that. Yeah. Okay. And are these people that you've seen for a while, you've seen them for a while, being kind of depressed, and then you see a change in their expression? Yeah. Okay. Now, Yoshi, for you, you're coming in and you're looking at a younger group of people in your grade. What's your impression of things? Things? There's less of it, but it's still noticeable. I guess the way you could tell is they have almost the distant look, they're almost completely lost in their mind with what's happened almost. I've seen people who look almost just completely sad about, they just have a sad expression and they're just hunched over and they're closed off from everyone and even from themselves it seems.

(06:32): And now we were talking in the car, and one of the things that brought this up is just recently Michael's friend was really struggling and was thinking about it really actively considering just kind of ending things. And so I was, Do his parents know? Does he talk to them about these things? And the question, the answer that came was like, Well, yeah, he just doesn't talk to 'em about those things. So then I asked Yoshi here about it and would he tell me about it? And this is really juicy stuff, guys, so do you wanna just share what you shared? I don't completely know if I would. It's almost such a big thing to think about to tell someone about that it can change your life in a worse way if Everybody freaks out about it. Yeah, it, It's like saying, for instance, as a tricker, I say, I wanna do a really big trick. And then everyone tells me, No, you can't do it. You're not ready. We're gonna freak out cuz we don't want you to hurt yourself or in a suicidal aspect, kill yourself. And so the whole environment around you changes so rapidly and you're flipped upside down so you don't know what happens. And then it just seems like it would be all downhill from there.

(07:57): So it sounds like you wouldn't tell anyone, maybe a close friend, but it sounds like you wouldn't tell, really tell anyone because that's like you making a decision for your life and the idea of somebody else disrupting that would be negative. Is that what I Yeah? Yeah. So then would you tell people about the things leading up to it? I mean, suicide's a big leap to make. So there's a lot of things I'm assuming that lead up to it. I'm not growing up in this day and age, so I don't know what it's like now, but there were a lot of things that led up to it in my life. I wasn't thinking about suicide all the time, but there were many times where I just wished my life would be over because I hated it. And so there's a lot of things that lead up to it. Have you been trying to talk about those and nobody's listening? What would you be talking about those kinds of questions?

(08:48): I guess for things leading up to it, it would eventually have to come up because it would be repetitive motion almost. They happen more than suicide would happen once . And so eventually I feel like someone would notice that you're going through emotion and you, you'll talk about it, you'll open up. But saying going straight to suicide is it's, it's just a big leap that you don't want to talk about it cuz it's over the top almost. But at the same time underwhelming. Okay. So Mr, you have contemplated suicide a couple of times in your life? Yes. Yes. Are you okay talking about the latest one? Yeah, Sure.

(09:40): Okay, So cool. Has he had a rough home life? I mean by his standards maybe, but by societal standards? Probably not. I don't know, but probably not. We're fairly open about things. We talk a lot about things. What I'm trying to open up here for anybody listening is that this isn't about whether or not a parent has messed up or a child has messed up or something else. But these are legitimate thoughts that people have and that kids are having. And teenagers in particular are in a space of life where they kind of know everything about themselves. They're in a space where they're like, No, no, I got this. And that can be problematic in some areas and I think it's because there's smaller things that are not being caught and talked about. So that's what I kinda wanna talk about. Cause you tried to talk to me Yeah, about it. Tell about what you did and why you would did about it that way.

(10:31): So I ended up writing a story that I look back on now as really, really sad. And it kind of does describe what I was feeling at the time really well. But I ended up, instead of just saying it outright, I ended up telling, showing him that story and having him read it. We talked about it from there, but I didn't mention suicide in particular, So I wasn't aware we were in the car and he's like, No, I have thought about it. We talk about it and I remember the story and I remember the sadness in the story, but I have no recollection of any mention of suicide. And I was just like, Wow, these are some big things going on. And he was like, Yeah, that's what it's like in my head sometimes. And that's the pressure I'm under and there's a lot under there. And so I totally missed that. It was about suicide folks. I didn't catch that that's what was going on because he didn't explicitly state it. And I've been around a lot of people who've been suicidal. I've helped a lot of people out of suicidal ideation because they're talking to me directly about it. I have helped myself out of it. I know what it's like inside there and I still missed it because it wasn't being explicitly stated. So what was it that helped you out of it?

(11:45): Actually, just talking about it helped me out of it, Even though we didn't, Even if it wasn't specifically defined, just being able to, cuz we did talk through it in my head as kind of a hypothetical. I remember that. But just that helped me. Okay, so guys listening just get it right. They're talking about what's going on with them and what is happening in their life and their cre. There's a space open for that. Fortunately there's a space open for that for me with my son so that he could feel that. And he's watched other people do it. He's a strong person and he still experienced this because of the things that they're going through. So now I want to kind of shift gears and talk about what teenagers are kind of going through. So both of you can chip in on this one and feel free to bounce back and forth. I don't care if it's chaos in the conversation, as long as the microphone's pointed toward you, you're good. , give me that. But what is it that is going on? I asked Yoshi and I asked Mr. I'm like, okay, if you could sit down and have a conversation as a real human, not as some disgruntled teenager or not as somebody who's angry, but as a real human with all the adults that are in your life, your teachers, your parents, your everybody else, what is it that you would share with them about what you are experiencing?

(13:08): Because let's be clear, folks, every adult that's listening to this is not living and growing up right now, we've already done our piece. And even if it was five years ago, the world has changed a lot in five years. And I grew up at a time where there was no internet where there was barely dot matrix printers when I was in elementary school, if you guys remember those. And then the internet showed up when I was in early teens, there were no cell phones really rampantly around until I was in my twenties. I didn't pick up one until I was in my mid twenties. So I don't know what it's like to live this way, to have been introduced to all of the stuff they're introduced to now when I was younger. And any adult listening to this is the same. So all of us have to pretend for a second because it's the truth that we don't actually know what our kids are going through and that we don't actually know what's best for them. We just think we do. And often that imposition gets in the way. So I want them to speak candidly and freely and ready, set. Don't cuss

(14:07): Me. Oh I'd say, well, I said earlier in the car, I said, be careful with your expectations that you hold up for the people that you see because your expectations could mean a lot or barely anything. And so depending on the person, it could change their whole, the way that they think about life or anything for that matter. What kind of expectations are we talking about? I mean, for some from a teacher, I get expectations to have good grades also from my parents or have a good assignment turned in. Sometimes that's stressful because I don't think I can make a good assignment because I just, maybe it's the subject and it's really confusing to me, but I'm expected to have it locked down on the ready to go, just outta my mind, know everything off the top of my head, but then I can't. So then I failed without even starting.

(15:11): That's not what his parents think. But basically it sounds like we're evil. Keep going. If you or someone is looking to drop the fbo of freedom in their life, whether that's from past trauma, depression, anxiety, addiction, or any other host of emotional and personal struggles, but they just don't know how or want some help doing it, head on over to the freedom specialist.com/feel better now and check out some of the things we've got in store for you or book a call so we can look at your unique situation and get you the help that you're looking for. What other expectations? I wanna list all of them, just fire 'em off as you see them because we're not talking about one expectation that kids have. We're talking about a mountain of expectations that have been built up over the course of a lifetime that literally feels like a mountain. And even as adults, you just added to that mountain most of the time. So let's start listing these expectations.

(16:09): So there's a lot of input nowadays with social media and everything and that just adds a little bit more expectation to look the part, I guess, to look the part, be as spiritual as everybody else. Did I mention we live in a tiny little Mormon community? Yes, we do. And so that's a thing. Yeah, be spiritual as everybody else. I'm missing. Well kind of a personality. Like I said, you have an expectation to be a person that you've held up for a long time maybe. So I had a friend who was, he was really social, really kind of popular, but he would say hi to a lot of people. He knows a lot of people. And then his attitude shifted one day and he just couldn't hold up the expectation of being the guy to know everyone. But nobody knows him, kind of. He talks to people and he'll talk to them and talk to them and they'll talk back to him. But they never really know this guy as a person. They know him as, Oh he'll say hi to me in the halls. I guess we're kind of friends.

(17:25): Okay. Yeah. So the feeling of not being hurt. Now you mentioned Yosha, you mentioned also expectations you hold up for yourself. Do you wanna elaborate on that? I guess also elaborating off of the personality expectations. You can hold those up yourself too if you lose your personality. For me, it felt like I had one way to live and it was Josiah Akio Gardner, this for 14 years forever and it's gonna be like that. And then my dad to Hebrew and he read my name off in Hebrew as yoshi. He is like, Oh, that sounds like some Yoshi, I'm gonna start calling you Yoshi Mario character. There we go. But it felt like he took a sledge hammer to a wall in my brain. He just showed me, You don't have to be this. We put a crack in it and you're still fine. You can rip down the whole wall and it's more land to be whatever you want and whoever you want. So the expectations you hold up for yourself have a great impact on you. So you need to be careful about what you hold up for yourself as well as what other people hold up for you. And we learned from every situation. It may not be unconsciously. A couple years back, right before I wrote that story, our friend group had kind of a falling out. So we were kind of split between two sides and then that happened again soon after we rebuilt it. And so that I think definitely played an effect in my mind like, Oh, I should be this type of friend. That's how it works.

(19:21): Okay, yeah. So there's unconscious expectations, there's lots of conscious expectations. You're very name beat. Sets up an expectation. I grew up my family history and our heritage and all the traditions. There is a set of expectations and not all of them are necessarily even felt as negative. A lot of people love their traditions and their family history. And so it's not to say that any of these things are necessarily in their own right bad, but they can be experienced in a very heavy way, which then takes a teenager who's trying to find their way in the world. And even elementary school kids sometimes trying to find their way in the world. And it puts so much weight on them to be something other than what they are. And that is a disservice to any human life. Anybody that is busy telling you that you need to be anything other than what you are is somebody who is literally telling you that your existence doesn't matter as it is that unless you change, you don't deserve to be here. They may say they love you, they may say they cherish you, but the more they're telling you you need to be anything other than that, that there's an ideal person, you need to go find an ideal life that you need to go live. Yoshi mentioned your friend who's, you have a couple friends whose parents they went to an ivy league school and they make a X amount of money. And so the kids are kind of expected the same way. And have they talked about that? What does that feel like for them?

(20:47): They just feel like they're held with the highest expectations. And so sometimes it's hard to be friends with them because one of 'em used to say that he felt like friends got in his way because he needed to focus on schoolwork and being the best of the best so he can get to the best of the best. So then, I mean that's one of the reasons I guess it feels like it's great to hang out with the friends that I do cuz we give out nicknames to each other and everyone essentially doesn't own a name cuz we just call them whatever we feel like in the moment. So it's a little freeing to be with my friends like that. And I guess for him it rubbed off on him and he felt more open to be, I don't know how he felt more freed from his expectations then having to uphold them until he actually accomplished them.

(21:54): Now some of your parents will to you this be like, crap, that's it. My son and daughter cannot have any friends. We don't want them to have that kind of influence on each other. Some of you may be listening to this and maybe even their parents would listen and be like, Oh this is why my son's on succeeding. That can happen. Here's the thing, if you have expectations that anyone on the planet be anything other than what they are, you are arguing with life itself. They can never be anything other than what they are. And so if you are demanding that they be different, you are essentially cutting them down at the root, not intentionally, often with the most greatest of intentions. Then often you're not even a attacking them, you're just saying these would be good skills to learn and great life things to do. And yet it's felt on the other end, it's an attack against their very being. They aren't loved, they aren't accepted as they are. So then all of a sudden they're not telling their parents because it's such a big thing. And so they start texting their friends when it happens. Tell me Mr, if you're okay with it, what it felt like to have that kind of bombshell dropped on you?

(23:00): Yeah, so I got a goodbye text basically and it was really scary at first. I thought I had done something wrong and then I was driving to my grandma's house and I parked and let some stuff out and I realized it, it's not in the end, people are gonna do what they're gonna do and I can be there to support that. Even if I think that it's not the best decision, obviously I'm gonna try and find another solution with him. So I walked out in the middle of it cuz I had heard he had parked and he was sitting in the front seat of the car, hands over his face, not able to breathe normally sobbing, tears running down his face, unable to catch his breath, throat stuck, not even able to talk about it as he is trying to do what he can to talk his friend down. And I'm there and I'm sitting in the front seat with him. I put my hand on his shoulder and I, I have him look at me and I say, Look, it's not happening right now cuz he's scared. And so he is looking at me, I'm like, Can you see that it hasn't happened yet? It's not something that's happening right now. He's like, Yeah, okay cool. It might happen. We'll deal with that then. Right now we just gotta do what we can do and move forward.

(24:25): But here I was watching my 16 year old son have the weight of another person's potential death sit on him because that kid was not given the space and the understanding because that's the way society's run. It's not his parents' fault, not given the space and the understanding to recognize that these are huge emotions, that these are things that can actually be dealt with, that they're very simple to deal with when what's really going on, but if you don't know, they can swallow you and consume you whole. And then to have the ripple effect of that hit my son because now he's dealing with the potential of a death of a friend. So this is kind of what happens when we don't catch it early enough and early enough for me in my book means, and it's what I've tried to do and obviously it's still hard even though I've tried my best to create this environment, obviously it's still difficult for a kid to show up to their parents. But what I've tried to do is create a space where everything they're feeling is allowed, everything they're doing in their life is okay and it isn't my job to make them anything different than what they are. They will live their lives beautifully. I've told them in jest. But also seriously, look, I can't make your decisions for you if you end up in jail though. I do wanna be able to come visit. So there's that . And how has that felt guys? How does that feel?

(25:50): It's really nice to me. It's reassuring. It's reassuring to know that we can feel whatever without having condescending thoughts, external thoughts from other people and just the openness about it. It's okay to have this. It makes it so much easier to be able to deal with it as well cuz then we don't have the emotion and then also have the guilt on top of it for having the emotion. Yeah. So my wife obviously, and I have very different parenting styles. There is structure in the home, there are expectations that are placed because you can't avoid those. But what we try to do is communicate the expectation. This is the rule in the house. It's not a morally bad person because you disobey the rule. This is just the rule we want you to obey by cuz we're paying for the house and when you move out that's different. And we may change the rule next month for all we know, but we're trying this and we want to have open communication with them when they're younger. They don't get much as much of a say as they grow up. Our aim with our kids is to have them be fully autonomous by the time they're 17, 18 with full range, no restrictions on their phones, no any of that stuff so that they're learning to live as much as adults doing their own laundry, cooking meals from time to time, all that stuff so that they have some experience with that while they're still living with a couple of people who have been down that road before called parents.

(27:25): And so there are times where they'll cross a line and we'll have to have conversations. And I try in those conversations and so does Jasmine to recognize, look, it's not about you being a bad person. This is literally, these are the rules, we're weirdos and that's kind of how this works as parents and this is our hangups and this is what we want you to do. And other families do it differently and we're not right. They're not right. We're just all doing our own thing. So to boil this down, the end game is when the kids are having huge emotional struggles, it's important to know how to see them so that it doesn't turn on you as parents blaming yourselves or believing you've done something wrong or so that it also doesn't turn into this panic moment where you don't know what's gonna happen and then you end up spending tens of thousands, sometimes hundreds of thousands of dollars seeking help that isn't actually changing the situation. Michael, you have a friend who's what, she's attempted to suicide a few times and then has gone into some of these institutions. Do you know how much they've paid or

(28:26): No? I think we did the math once and it was almost a hundred grand. So a lot, almost a hundred thousand dollars or something like that. And definitely she's doing better. She's still alive. So it has done some things. But in terms of getting rid of those thought processes, have you seen really much of a difference? A little bit, but not as much as I would like. So that means it's coming from the paradigm of she's always gonna be dealing in some way, shape or form with this kind of depression or this kind of that. Cuz that's a common paradigm. And let me just tell you once and for all, it's not true. There is no permanent thing here. Even life itself is not permanent. So depression is not a permanent condition. Anxiety is not a permanent condition, it's not a diagnosis that will be with you forever. It's a present moment experience that isn't happening all the time, even though it might seem like that. And it's rooted in your body. And when you can retrain the nervous system and retrain the body to stop holding those tension patterns and chemistries, literally the thoughts that you used to have, they go away on their own. You don't have to fight them, you don't have to overturn them and see how dumb they are or anything like that.

(29:35): Most of the time if you just actually retrain the body and deal with it directly, the thoughts and emotions go away on their own. That's what we handle at our retreats. And honestly, if you're a parent and you don't have any big issues of your own, but you really wanna prepare yourself to have kids or want to know what kids might be dealing with and stuff, then I'd recommend coming to one of these retreats. It would be the biggest education you could possibly get. It would save you a bachelor's and a master's and a PhD in all of the psychiatry and all the psychology and all the other stuff that you're doing. It would save you years of training in body therapies and all these other things. It would save you all that stuff and it would give you a deep look at how simple the situation really is.

(30:12): Folks, suicide in my book it it's a tragedy if suicide is what it is right now, which is the second leading cause of death for everyone up to age. I think 45 right behind accidental injury is suicide, meaning people are growing up from age 10 to 45. So by starting at age 10, people are growing up. It might even be up to 55, but it's definitely up to like 45. People are growing up literally believing that they would rather opt out of life than live it all the way that that is the calamity of the way that our society has been built and we can turn it around. It's just a matter of really learning how things really work. And that's it for today's Alive and Free podcast. If you enjoyed this show and want some more freedom bombs landing in your earbuds, subscribe right now at wherever you get your podcast from. And while you're at it, give us a rating and a review. It'll help us keep delivering great stuff to you. Plus it's just nice to be nice.

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