Hoping to help others, mom shares story of son’s suicide
Some viewers many find the following story emotionally disturbing.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - We have a local family’s journey and message to everyone after their son took his own life at the beginning of the school year.
Treyvon Jennings is described as a happy and bright 14-year-old freshman at Evans High School.
“If by getting his story out about how he passed helps to save just one more kid or one more mother from feeling like this, then that’s what I want to do because it’s not okay,” said Julie Jennings, Treyvon’s mother.
The CDC says one person dies by suicide every 11 minutes. In 2020, over 15 million people thought about it or made a plan to do it.
He was outgoing and made sure to make a special connection with everyone, no matter who you were.
Until he took his own life on Aug. 9, the family says there were no warning signs. His family hopes this can help just one person who may be struggling with mental health to reach out for support.
Family videos capture precious memories, like family game nights. Or that one birthday party where only one person enjoyed the cake.
“He loved joking and laughing and making people smile. He loved making people laugh,” she said.
Pictures and videos were meant to show the good times with family. Now they’re used to show who he was, now that he’s gone.
“He was so kind and sweet and loved, loved all his brothers, sisters, and cousins,” said his mom.
Details of what unfolded on Aug. 9 at the Jennings’ home are hard to listen to.
“He had gotten in trouble on the bus that day, and I took his phone from him like I’ve done a thousand times before,” she said.
Treyvon walked past the living room where his family was, into his mom’s bathroom, and locked the door.
“I went back into the living room, and it was 10 seconds later. He yelled from my bedroom, ‘goodbye everybody,’ and then we just heard it. I thought he was messing with me like he popped a bag of air,” she said.
Treyvon shot himself in the head trying to take his own life.
“I just don’t understand. He was supposed to take school pictures the next day. He had picked out an outfit to wear for his school picture. He did his homework,” she said.
He was put on life support and passed away five days later.
“I had no idea. This does not make any sense,” she said.
She’s not alone. Doctors say this is a trend we’re seeing nationally and locally. The NIH and CDC both report that 18–25-year-olds have the highest suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Dale Peeples is a child psychiatrist at Augusta University.
“You have a trend going in the wrong direction, and we are seeing more kids both having thoughts of suicide making attempts and actual completed suicides have been on the rise,” he said.
The Youth Risk Behavior survey is conducted annually in middle and high schools. Georgia is one of the states with the highest rate of attempted suicides.
“We’re talking about a very healthy population. Kids shouldn’t be dying,” said Peeples.
Jama Pediatrics reports Georgia remained one of the highest for suicide rates in the nation through the pandemic.
“That’s preventable, and we can do something about that, and it doesn’t need to happen,” he said.
Georgia’s crisis line saw a 24-percent increase in calls. Callers 18 and younger are only trending up. In South Carolina, it’s the same story.
Karlin-Rae Cummings with Aiken-Barnwell Mental Health said: “Last year we provided services to 37 percent more than we did the previous year, so they are increasing. We’re seeing a lot more anxiety and sadness.”
We requested the number of suicides over the past five years from the Aiken, Columbia, and Richmond County coroners. Both Richmond and Aiken numbers show the height of the pandemic is when we lost the most young people.
Julie said: “Treyvon was special, and he was so loved. That’s why none of this makes any sense.”
A big part of Treyvon’s life was his seizures. Over 14 years, he had 158 grand mal seizures.
“He may have gotten picked on a little bit about his seizures, but Treyvon was tough. He wasn’t going to let anyone bully him. He was tough,” she said.
Twenty of his family and friends even got tattoos to show support for epilepsy. Her message to families listening, talk to your kids, but most importantly, listen.
“All he had to do was talk to me. Talk to his brothers, talk to his cousins, talk to somebody,” she said. “I want these kids to understand they always have someone to talk to. Somebody loves you.”
Julie hopes anyone watching can see the impact this decision has on a family that loves you.
When Treyvon was put on life support, his family decided to donate his organs. There was an honor walk at Augusta University, where they lined the halls before his surgery. Treyvon helped save the lives of five other children.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts of harming yourself, please try to talk to someone about it – a friend, a family member, or maybe even a teacher. The universal suicide crisis hotline number is 988. They have trained counselors available 24/7. Or, text START to 741-741.
For more mental health resources, visit:
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Augusta
- Augusta University Crisis Services
- National Alliance on Mental Illness Crisis Information
- Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Suicide Prevention
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