David and Linda Levandowski. Linda does not want another family to experience the pain of losing a child to suicide.
TREADWELL — Joshua DuFault returned home from the movies his normal, happy self.
That night, he locked himself in his bedroom and hanged himself from his closet door, a little more than two months ago.
“He told people, but no one told us,” said Linda Levandowski.
Families who have lost loved ones to suicide wonder why, question themselves and are often riddled with guilt.
They don’t want another family to go through what they went through and stress open communication within the family and society as a whole.
The stigma of suicide only keeps it and mental illness, which is often associated with suicide, in the dark. This does not help anyone, and may in fact result in more lives lost.
“I just lost my son two months ago,” said Levandowski.
DuFault had been in trouble before and was worried about getting into trouble again.
He texted friends, telling them he was scared and planned to take his own life.
“He told people,” Levandowski said, “but no one told us.”
At home that night after the movies, she sensed something was wrong, but when she went to check on him, the door was locked. No one answered when she knocked, and she searched the house but could not find him anywhere.
Levandowski called 911 and went outside and peered through the bedroom window. She saw his hat and phone.
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She and her husband kicked the door in and found the young man dead, hanging by the closet door.
Levandowski believes her son cried for help, but no one listened.
“Take them serious if someone tells you they are planning suicide,” she said. “They might get mad at you, but they will be alive.”
She doesn’t want to see another family experience such a loss.
Suicide is a cry for help, she said, and there are always ways to get that individual help.
“Nobody should have to go through this pain.”
Angie LePage can relate to that pain all too well.
“I lost my son, my precious son, to suicide.”
She cannot recall any specific time he mentioned suicide, but if anyone is ever in that position, “don’t roll the dice,” she said.
Her son, Michael, was struggling with alcohol and was facing his second DWI.
“He was incredibly fearful with what would happen with him in the criminal justice system,” LePage said. “He got his second DWI, and in his mind he was done.”
She recalls walking into the living room and glancing above the fireplace to see his picture face down. She asked him about it and Michael said that was how he wanted it.
“My Michael didn’t want to die,” LePage said. “He just didn’t know how to live.”
Mary Gillen’s son didn’t exhibit any revealing behaviors. There was no warning, except possibly the time he gave away his prized possessions.
Still, Gillen chalked it up to the young man preparing to leave for college.
“You never know what is in someone’s head.”
She urges families and the community to begin talking about suicide. If the conversation does not start, nothing will change, she said.
“Talk about it so it is not that thing that is whispered about,” Gillen said. “You have to use the bad word, ‘suicide.’”
Anytime someone throws around suicide threats, take that person seriously, she said. The individual might be angry, but tomorrow and beyond that person will be alive.
“We have to make mental health issues acceptable,” Gillen said. “Be honest with people and quit dancing around it.”