Teresa Ingles wants to carry on her son’s legacy.
The former Petrolia woman has set up the Deker Bauer Foundation for Suicide Prevention in honour of her son who completed suicide this past summer while visiting a friend in Petrolia.
Ingles says Deker has been struggling mental health issues since he was a young boy. Ingles had been in an abusive relationship many years ago. She and her sons left the home but only later found out how much it affected Deker.
“Deker was being abused and I didn’t know,” she says through tears. At eight, Ingles found him trying to strangle himself. In counseling the young boy admitted he heard voices but later told his counselor that he didn’t hear them any more.
For years she believed Deker was okay. But then last summer, when they moved to Sarnia, a close friend was killed. He was struck by a car while skateboarding. “That really affected Deker.”
The teen helped organize a memorial skate for his friend but he struggled with his pain. “It was hard. It was the first death he fully experienced,” says Ingles.
A couple months later, he was bringing his friends to his room giving away his favourite hats and most precious skateboards, cleaning out his room.
Then, three months to the day his friend was killed, Deker was heading back to Petrolia to stay overnight. Ingles says he was happy and singing along with songs on the car radio as they went. “It was the best day.”
The next morning, a Friday, Ingles got the call he had killed himself. Counselors later told her that often people planning suicide give away their treasured items as mementos and have a feeling of euphoria leading up to it, knowing their pain will soon end.
Now, Ingles and her family are dealing with their own grief. “I was so overwhelmed… they say you will feel like you are loosing your mind. This is normal and of course you’re going to feel overwhelmed.”
Part of what is keeping her going is her mission to provide a place for people dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts.
“Grief, depression and suicide don’t just happen from 9 to 5 or during a scheduled appointment,” says Ingles. “There have been many nights when I wish there was somewhere I could go to talk.”
“I would rather see someone face-to-face.”
And Deker’s kind spirit is also a reason for the foundation and the goal to provide a home-like setting for people to go to talk. After Deker died, Facebook was flooded with messages about Deker and his ability to listen to his friends problems.
“One message said; ‘Who am I going to go to now?’ Everybody was going to him, hoping he could fix their problems but he wasn’t dealing with his own problems,” says Ingles.
She’s created the Deker Bauer Foundation for Suicide Prevention and recruited a board made up of people with an interest in children and suicide prevention. That includes Lambton-Kent District School Board Trustee Michelle Parks who has actively promoted suicide prevention efforts at the board and Petrolia Councilor Tim Brown who was Deker’s youth pastor.
They’ve struck a budget, expecting to buy a home in a commercial zone in Sarnia and hire qualified staff will cost about $332,000 a year.
Ingles has busied herself, with the help of her daughter-in-law Sarah, setting up bank accounts and applying for grants from the Trillum Foundation and local business foundations. The pair also went to Sarnia City Council Monday looking for a grant to get started.
Since they’ve been working, Ingles has received a lot of support and encouragement and has been spurred on by seven other suicide attempts since Deker’s death.
Ingles says the foundation is helping her deal with her dear son’s death. “This is helping me grieve. If I had not have started this, I don’t know what I would be doing. It pushes me – just to get out of the house is sometimes a challenge because it is overwhelming.”
But she knows her vision of a place for people in need is important and will be a legacy for her son.
“We’re carrying on what he did. Deker is going to still be here for these people.”
How to help
You can donate to the Deker Bauer Foundation for Suicide Prevention at any Scotiabank or you can contact Ingles at email@example.com if you would like to help.