‘There are a lot of questions and whys’

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Charlene Newport doesn’t like driving by herself.

It gives the Oil Springs mother too much time to ask the unanswerable questions about her son Connor’s death.

The 16 year-old who loved hockey, baseball, swimming and hanging with his friends and the family cat – Hector – died by suicide Oct. 24, 2017. The LCCVI student’s death devastated Newport, her husband Rob and Connor’s siblings, Jordon, Karissa and his twin brother, Logan.

Six years on, Newport thinks about Connor – and why he died daily. And she relies on a support group for the parents of children who died by suicide.

Newport says she started dealing with her grief with a support group designed for parents whose children died after medical issues. But, she says, the grief of the parents whose children died by suicide is much different. One well-known expert says is the most complicated grief.

“There are a lot of questions and whys,” she says.

“I always question myself…I carry guilt – yeah, there’s a lot of guilt; what I could have done differently.”

Newport recalls the day Connor died, she didn’t seen any unusual signs.

“When I said goodbye, I told him to put his pants which were on the floor in the dirty laundry and don’t forget to take the belt off – like – that was my thing. I saw nothing – that was our normal banter in the morning.”

Connor’s death has changed everything, even heightening her awareness to the young kids she teaches kindergarten at Lambton Centennial.
Newport makes sure they know she cares about them.

“You feel for them. You want to be there…we all want them to know that we offer a safe place.”

And she spreads that message outside the classroom, too.

Labour Day, she and some friends walked along Petrolia Line putting up yellow ribbons in advance of World Suicide Prevention Day Sept. 10.

The ribbons are a reminder to anyone thinking about suicide that people care, are willing to listen and there is help to get through the rough patches of life and mental illness.

Newport says it can be difficult to reach out to people who are suffering, but the best thing anyone can do is offer to listen without judgement “because it is hard – people just lock (those feelings) inside.”

She knows how hard it can be to deal with grief and sadness. Newport deals with questions about Connor’s death daily. When she’s busy, she can put them aside to deal with later. But when she’s alone – like when she’s driving – all those questions come flooding in. “I go from pain here to there; it’s really hard…I’m thinking all the time.”

If you are dealing with mental health issues, you can call 1-888-DISTRES in Sarnia or text the crisis line using HOME at 686868.