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The Boy on the Bench
The image of Jesus sitting on a bench talking and listening to a teenage boy is a comforting one. “Lost and Found” portrays Jesus as a supportive friend, and a listening ear.
However, the story behind Greg Olsen’s famous painting is one that very people know about, but millions can relate to; suicide.
Olsen’s son, Nate shared the story behind the painting in a suicide prevention video created by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dan, the boy who modeled for the painting, was friends with Nate at the time the painting was done. Nate had known Dan had struggled with depression in the past, but he was unaware at the time just how deep of a depression he was facing. Ten years after the painting was completed, Dan killed himself.
Nate looks back on Dan’s suicide and wonders what he could have done better as a friend.
“I wish he would have given me the opportunity to sit on the bench with him, and talk to him. And to give me the opportunity to tell him I love him, why I need him, and want him around for the next fifty years,” says Nate.
Guilt is often a common phase in the grieving process after a suicide, but it is important to remember that ultimately it was your loved one’s decision to end their life. Most people that die by suicide do not want to die, they simply want to end their severe suffering and they see no other option.
Anger and disconnection are also common phases of grief. It is natural to feel angry or betrayed by the victim for choosing to take their lives. They may feel as though the victim was being selfish, and if they had reached out, they would still be here. When you lose a loved one to a disease or accident, it is often easier to remember the good times with them than when you lose someone to suicide. Many times people disconnect to their loved ones memory because we are left in a “state of conflict” with them. It makes remembering the happy times much harder.
“If there are any who are thinking about giving up on the challenges, my message is that every human soul is precious,” says Elder M. Russell Ballard, LDS Church Apostle.
If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255) or call 911 immediately.
SOS Handbook for Suicides Survivors, By Jeffery Jackson
About Jill Sauser, The Kim Foundation Project Coordinator
Jill graduated with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Speech Communication from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2009. During her time at UNO, she completed a two year PR practicum program where she worked with numerous nonprofit clients including the MS Society, The Archdiocese of Omaha, The Omaha Food Bank and YWCA. Jill joined The Kim Foundation as Project Coordinator in April 2014.