Frank Relationships: Mike Bushman, Author of “Suicide Escape,” on Teenage Depression and Suicide

Sunday, Mar. 9th 2014 9:30 PM

 

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Thoughts of teenage depression and suicide may be closer than you think. Let’s discuss it and much more … on this edition of Frank Relationships.


FRANK RELATIONSHIPS: MIKE BUSHMAN, AUTHOR OF “SUICIDE ESCAPE,” ON TEENAGE DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE
Guests: Mike Bushman
Date: March 9, 2014

Frank: Thoughts of teenage depression and suicide may be closer than you think. Let’s discuss it and much more on this edition of Frank Relationships.

Welcome to Frank Relationships where we provide a candid fresh and frank look into relationships with goals of acceptance, respect and flexibility. I’m Frank Love and you can find me, my blog and my various social media incarnations at: franklove.com. You can also download the podcast of this and other archive shows on iTunes or with your favorite podcast app.

As always, I’m hanging out with my wonderful co-host/co-pilot. What’s up co-host?

La Tonia: Good morning.

Frank: How’s your week?

La Tonia: It’s been awesome so far. Great expectations this week.

Frank: Last night I just did a talk at [Copan] 01:44 sp University. It was great.

La Tonia: Oh, wow.

Frank: Yeah, I’m getting around, doing the circuit thing.

La Tonia: Oh, wow. And I was on a radio show last night too.

Frank: Nice. Tell me about yours.

La Tonia: We were talking about “Being Mary Jane,” not being Mary Jane.

Frank: Not being Mary Jane. Well, first, who is Mary Jane?

La Tonia: It’s a show on BET and the character is rather ruthless and she’s the other woman and I thought about us all through the show and the kind of questions we would have asked.

Frank: Okay and what kind of questions did the host ask or what was that angle?

La Tonia: That angle was we’re not Mary Jane and I am appalled that this would be represented and by a TV station. And of course, you know, the coach and me was like, “Why, because if art is imitating life, then let’s look at the reality that it presents.” And of course, I channeled you and I said, “What if we need to look at relationships and the structure that they’re in? What if it’s truth that we really need to address,” and I tagged you on Facebook, so you got to check it out.

Frank: Okay, I did see that. I haven’t looked at it and I definitely haven’t listened to it, but I am–

La Tonia: By your hands.

Frank: But I am honored to know that Frank was in the house when Frank wasn’t in the house.

La Tonia: Frank and juicy.

Frank: Frank and juicy doing it again. Very nice.

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Today’s guest is a retiree that admittedly contemplated suicide in his teen years and he wants to talk about it. His newest book, Suicide Escape, does just that. In it, he discusses deeply personal stories that detail teenage depression and the lessons of adulthood that he wishes that he would have had a better understanding of in his younger years.

Teenage depression is real and it doesn’t affect just the teenagers. So, to discuss it and much more, I proudly welcome to the show, Mr. Michael Bushman. How are you doing?

Michael: Good Frank and good La Tonia. How are you doing today?

Frank: Great.

La Tonia: Wonderful.

Frank: Why did you contemplate suicide in your teens?

Michael: That’s a great question. I was really hopeless, was I think is the best way to describe it. I felt like everything I did was a failure. I couldn’t see that life was ever going to get better. I really felt I was walking around with the weight of the world around me. And the depression that I was engaged in, I didn’t know what it was at that time, was just so overwhelming that I just couldn’t see anything good in anything I did.

I also couldn’t figure a way out of it for the longest time. That’s really what drove me to just want to escape the world entirely and the only escape I could figure out was suicide. So, really it came when I was walking home from work and took a knife with me from the deli I was working at, sat down on the railroad tracks at the age of 15 and got high– and of course, drug use was part of what contributed to my depression.

Frank: What drug?

Michael: Pot and hash.

Frank: Okay.

Michael: I was fortunate that I didn’t get into anything higher, because it was clear to me now as addictive as I was about something that was supposedly non-addictive as pot that I would have really done some damage, if I had used anything other than that.

I sat there on the railroad tracks in our home town and spun the tip of the blade against my rib cage and just tried to get up the courage to push it in. Fortunately, I didn’t have it. The reality was as is typically the case, I didn’t want to die, I just wanted to escape the pain and I had to find a way out of it.

Frank: I believe that suicide is a powerful statement, that it’s actually one of the more powerful things that a person can say or do. What are your thoughts on that?

Michael: I think certainly it’s an act of total control.

Frank: Yeah.

Michael: Because when you do it, nobody else has any influence on you.

Frank: Yeah.

Michael: I don’t really see it as powerful though. I see it as giving up. I see it as an escape from the pain in the world and really just a complete departure from giving yourself any chance to have the happiness that life does bring when you fight though those tough times.

Frank: What about looking at the concept as though some people just don’t want to be here? And I say that from the prospective of someone who had a friend who committed suicide and there was also a young lady in my community who committed suicide and I knew her. I wasn’t close with her, but I knew her and both of them made several attempts and it was clear they did not want to be here. And so, I agree with you that it is opting out and that it is a way of-I miss, I didn’t capture the exact word that you used, but it’s a way of escaping. I agree, however some of us want to escape.

Michael: Yeah, and I think you’re right about that. But what I would say is and the reason that I’ve taken this on as a cause, is I think most people want to escape because they can’t see how they can get out of it. And a big part of the reason that I wrote the book, Suicide Escape, is to provide at least one of the pathways for people to think about to get away from the depression that they’re in, to get away from that feeling that they have to end it all and to recognize that there are other ways to take control of their life. Now one of the–

La Tonia: Now do you share your story, your personal story and details of your life as a teenager in the book?

Michael: I do. The way I structured the book is it’s a combination of fiction and memoir. So, the memoir part is everything that happened to me up until this point. But I set it in the future so I have me as a 76 year old man out on a hike who runs across a 15 year old girl who’s about to end her life.

Frank: And are you 76?

Michael: No, I’m 49 years old.

Frank: Okay.

Michael: But I set it in the future, because I didn’t want to have the creep factor of a middle aged man spending a lot of time around a teenage girl. So, I was trying to avoid that as a distraction from the message. And what I do in talking with this girl and trying to get her to realize that what she’s feeling at that point and time, isn’t what she has to feel the rest of her life. There are things she can do to take control over her life, but she also may need help. I needed help and found help from some people along the way.

Some people just have the brain chemistry issue. Just like some people have diabetes, some people have brain chemistry that makes them prone to depression and anxiety and they may need some help.

La Tonia: That’s so true. That’s so true and you know what, one of them is being a teenager, because you think that everything is the end of the world. That brain chemistry, that’s just-*(inaudible) 11:23.

Michael: There’s no question that–

La Tonia: Lightness to that.

Michael: Yeah, teenage hormones certainly also make things a little bit more challenging, but also just not having life experiences and thinking that that’s high school environment, the bullying that someone might be enduring or the complete loneliness that you can feel sometimes even when you’re surrounded by people in high school, that that is what’s going to endure through their life.

I talked to a couple of groups of high school students yesterday at a local high school and I had a few come up to me after the presentation, thanked me for doing it, because they were either enduring it–one had just had in recent weeks run over to a friend’s house who had posted that she was going to kill herself and got there just in time to cut the noose off her neck before she was completely suffocated.

Frank: Wow.

La Tonia: Wow.

Michael: So you hear what kids are enduring and the feeling, especially among teenagers, suicidal thought isn’t a permanent thing and really when people are at that suicidal point, getting them through the next minute, the next hour, the next day are really crucial points, and then getting them some help, whether it’s from a counselor or going to see a doctor or maybe dealing with come brain chemistry issues. Then, behavior changes are important as well.

Frank: What was some of the help that you found?

Michael: The biggest help for me and really the turning point was my mother had known that I was really struggling. I’m not sure she knew quite how much I was struggling.

Frank: Yeah, she knew you were struggling with what?

Michael: With just depression, with just not feeling good about myself and not having any sense of worth and she forced me to go to a church youth group retreat. I was 15 at the time, a sophomore in high school. And I was generally working 30 hours a week at that point, because I knew if I was going to college I had to pay for it and I just finally agreed to go and I hadn’t gone really to church at that point for a year and a half or so. I finally agreed to go, because I figured I’d just go out there and be in the woods and I could get high all weekend and not work, but when I got up there, the church deacon, who I had known, but not all that well, he was onto me. He figured out very quickly what was going on in my head and spent some time with me and really helped me understand and see my worth. And then through the group activities that he got me to participate in.

I really started to recognize that maybe there is something here that I just can’t see and for me that was a real critical turning point. It was having an adult–and it doesn’t have to be an adult, it can be anybody–who saw something good in me and opened my eyes to the possibility that I might have value in the world.

La Tonia: Very, very interesting. I want to ask you to more specifically, because there may be parents who are parenting boys that may be able to receive a nugget. This morning I saw a video circulating that’s being produced by the Miss Representation Group and it’s titled, “The Three Worse Words You Can Ever Tell Your Boy” or “Tell a Boy.” And the video talks about boys who basically hear words like, “You need to man up, don’t cry, don’t act like a faggot,” these different things that boys have where they internalize all of this fear and rage and suicide was mentioned by the boys, because they didn’t have a way of expressing and it was really a short clip, but very powerful and poignant.

Do you in your work, do you get stories like this from the boys themselves or before it’s too late, I should say?

Michael: Yeah, well an interesting fact is that boys tend to count for almost 80 percent of the actual deaths by suicide. Now, girls are just as likely to attempt it, but boys tend to use more violent and permanent methods where they’re not saved. They’re more likely to use the gun or some other physical means that can’t be undone verses an overdose or something else that people might be able to get there in time. For boys, but it’s also true for girls, a feeling that you can’t possibly achieve what you’re supposed to achieve in life and that there’s no way that you can be the person that the people around you expect you to be, is really debilitating.

One of the things I talk with high school students and others about, is that what’s important is to figure out what your purpose is in life, what your path is, what you want to achieve and to hold yourself accountable to working toward that. Not to stick on the path that somebody else has designed for you.

It’s important to understand that there are other paths and to see whether those are the right paths for you. But ultimately what matters is, are you living the life that you can be proud of and that you can be happy with and not feeling like you have to conform to somebody else’s definition of what a good person is?

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You’re listening to Frank Relationships; we’re talking with Michael Bushman, author of three novels including his newest book, Suicide Escape, which addresses deeply personal stories of teenage depression. Mike how can I get in touch with you and find your book?

Michael: The Suicide Escape is out on Amazon. Right now it’s in Kindle format only, but there are also tools to download Kindle and read Kindle if you don’t have a Kindle on your computer and that’s how I do it, in fact. But also, you can find me–I have a blog at mbushman.com. I’m on Facebook at facebook.com/authorMikeBushman and I can be found on Twitter @m_bushman.

Frank: La Tonia brought up the concept of talking to boys about manning up and I wrote a blog about that sometime ago and what I found is, I believe and I found that that’s a way to manipulate other people into doing what you want them to do. And there are a lot of “positive social norms” that deal with manning up and then there are negative social norms that deal with manning up.

So, some of the commonly accepted or those that are looked at as positive when you’re telling somebody to “man up” is, pay your child support, raise your kids, that sort of thing. And when you’re looking at the negative side of man up, it kind of stand up, brush yourself off and maybe that’s not even the best example of negative, but they run the gambit is my point. What I found is, it’s a way to connect with someone almost when you don’t know what else to say to them. Attack their manhood. What are your thoughts about that and how it relates to suicide?

Michael: Those kind of comments clearly aren’t helpful to somebody who’s dealing with depression or real other mental illness. One of the don’ts to say to somebody who tells you that they’re planning to kill themselves or that they’re deeply depressed and they don’t see any hope, one of the things you should never do is go up to them and say “get over it” or “man up” or anything like that, because the reality is, the people who are in that depth of pain–

Frank: Are past that ability.

Michael: They don’t want to stay there, they can’t do that. They would love to get over it, if they knew how to do that they would do it. So what they need is somebody to recognize them, to offer to care. Caring is a really important piece of it. To offer to help, to maybe recommend places that they could go to get help.

Frank: What does caring look like?

Michael: Caring sometimes looks as simple–and I’ll give you an example from my childhood. The day after I sat on those railroad tracks with that knife, I was still thinking every second about, “I should just kill myself” and during that next day, a student came up to me, a kid I had met who was on the tennis team and just said something very simple. He said, “You know that article you wrote for the school newspaper, that was really good,” and it wasn’t something he gave a lot of thought to. It’s probably something he doesn’t ever remember having said to me, but at the point I was at–

Frank: It mattered.

Michael: Having that positive affirmation that I did something good, really mattered. And I remember the feeling of physically feeling like just tons of weight lifted off my shoulders that, “Well, maybe there is something here. Maybe I can do something, maybe I’m not destined to be a failure.” And so–

La Tonia: I can relate to that.

Michael: Just saying some nice things to people can make a big difference.

Frank: How do you and I and just “normal” people know when it’s valuable to just drop a nugget of, “Hey, how are you doing? You matter,” or “I really appreciate that comment that you made yesterday,” or “I saw the work you did, I think that’s great?” How do we know when it’s important to say that? It’s a loaded question, because I certainly believe that you know it, because it’s the case all the time. Everybody can use a good word all the time.

Michael: Right.

Frank: But just let me shut up. What’s your answer?

Michael: Yeah, there are some clear warning signs about suicide. One is, when people start talking about it. If they’re talking about suicide, there’s a good chance that they’re going to follow through and they’re going to at least attempt it, if not succeed, in doing it. If they start talking about seeking out lethal means. That they’re going to go buy a gun or they’re going to buy knives or they want access to some prescription medicine that hasn’t been prescribed to them, if they’re preoccupied with death.

When somebody makes statements that they have absolutely no hope for the future, life’s going to be a failure, they start saying things about hating themselves, those are really good warning signs. And there’s a couple others and this is true particularly of adults, if they start to get their affairs in order, they start to clean up their financial records and make the rounds to the people who have mattered in their life and say goodbye that can be a real clear signal, that they’re just preparing this to be the end. And withdrawal is also a really important signal.

Senior depression is a growing problem. In fact, a very prominent issue and loneliness is a big cause of senior depression, so when you see that withdrawal, whether it’s as a senior or as a teenager. I know in the worst of my depression, I could be in the room with a thousand people and feel utterly alone and completely ignored and that can be a real issue. Certainly, self-destructive behavior, so drug abuse, alcohol abuse.

Cutting has become a real clear signal, especially among teenagers, where they’re just slicing their body up and really in some cases, just because the pain of the slicing helps give them some sense that they’re still here. Those are some of the signals and if anything like that’s happening, then it’s particularly important to say something good. But as you say, everybody no matter what their mental health can use reassurance on a regular basis.

La Tonia: I find it interesting that you say, once they start–you started with once they start talking about it, because I remember times when my mother and father divorced, that I definitely thought, “I don’t want to be here,” but I dare not speak it out loud. I didn’t get to the point of talking about it, so I personally can relate to just as a flashback of my own life at a time when I was very depressed and had a whole lot of questions and didn’t feel supported by the adults, because I want to know what factor a child’s relationship with authority plays, because if you don’t feel cared for by the people who are in charge of your life, I imagine there are a lot more children who feel it and I use “children” lightly.

Frank: How old were you La Tonia?

La Tonia: I think I was in maybe fourth or sixth–between fourth and sixth grade was worst part of the depression. I don’t remember the age exactly–

Frank: Okay.

La Tonia: During that time.

Frank: But you were a clear child?

La Tonia: Yes, definitely. I remember sitting outside just hating my mother and feeling completely abandoned and loved by my father and I would speak it by myself, but I never really shared it with anyone, because I didn’t really trust anyone with that information.

Michael: And that’s not unusual. In fact, I went through the visible warning signs, but it’s not that unusual that there are no visible warning signs. In fact, I was so ashamed of how I felt that, I didn’t tell people how I felt. And I did my best to put on a face, but I was okay when I was around people and I would collapse when I was on my own, leave the house in the middle of the night and just go sit in the streets and get high and often just crying, because I just couldn’t make sense of it. But I was so ashamed of it that it wasn’t something that I went around and made clear to people that, boy he’s suicidal or he’s depressed.

Frank: How do you know when something is wrong with you? And I use the term “wrong” loosely. But how do you know when you are in the midst? What is it that you would say to me? Say, “Frank, if you are thinking this, something’s wrong. Get help.”

Michael: Well certainly, if you get to the point where you think you just want to die, absolutely, you’ve got to get help right away, but if you find that your depression or your anxiety or your other mental health issues are preventing you from achieving, what you know you would be capable of achieving. For example, if you wake up in the morning and you can barely get out of bed and you can barley get yourself to move, there’s a good chance that there’s a measure of depression there that you need to address.

You need to get some help doing it or you need to figure out what behaviors you have that are causing it and there are all sorts of simple things that you can do to help. One is, sleep. It’s very difficult to fight depression if you’re not sleeping well enough, because you’re not giving your brain time to heal overnight.

Frank: But what about too much sleep. You just don’t get out of the bed?

Michael: If you’re not getting out of bed, that is a real signal that you’re depressed and you’re start-now, you may also have another medical condition that’s causing you to not physically be able to. But if it’s something that’s not another physical condition and it’s really tied to your brain chemistry or just how you feel, that can be a real signal.

You mentioned, La Tonia, your experience with feeling abandoned by adults and I think that’s an important piece to draw on. I was serving as an alumni coach at a student leadership program at the University of Illinois last weekend and I talked about Suicide Escape with the group and one of the young men in the group came up to me afterwards to thank me, because he’s been fighting a real sense of depression.

He had gone and he’s been getting help and he understands that he needs to get out of it, but he was struggling with having any hope that he was going to have a place in the world and I would explain to him some of the things I went through and we talked a little bit more and part of what really made it tough for him was the 14 foster homes he had gone through.

Frank: Wow.

Michael: That he really never felt a sense of place. He’s in school one day, the police come and take him away and he doesn’t see his mother for years and only finally he gets to go back with her late as he is heading towards high school and he just never really felt like he had that support or the network of people who always believed in him no matter what and that can be a real trouble sign as well.

It makes life much more difficult when you don’t believe you have that supportive adult network. It doesn’t mean that if you have supportive adults that you won’t be depressed, it’s just another way of triggering depression.

La Tonia: Really? So, it doesn’t mean if you have supportive adults, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t enter into a depression–

Michael: Absolutely, not.

La Tonia: Especially as a teenager?

Michael: No. In fact, I was fortunate. I had two loving parents. I had five brothers and sisters. Intellectually I knew they loved me, but I thought they were wrong and foolish for doing that, because I felt so worthless, I couldn’t believe that I had a purpose in life. You can have loving people all around you and still head into depression.

Frank: I’m inviting my male listeners to an upcoming men’s healing and relationship workshop hosted by Nana Kwabena Brown in Silver Spring, Maryland on March 22nd. It’s from 10 A.M. to 6 P.M. This is a unique opportunity for men to come together to heal, awaken spiritually and prove their relationships with themselves and others.

Discussions will include how we can best be prepared or successfully negotiate our inception, unfolding and evolving child warrior, householder and elder. Nana Kwabena hopes to help participants look at how to happy healthy and healing relationships while living out our roles and purpose. For more information, visit nyamahealingservices.eventbright.com.

You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Michael Bushman, author of three novels including his newest book, Suicide Escape, which addresses deeply personal stories of teenage depression. Mike, again how can I get in touch with you and find your book?

Michael: The book is available on Amazon as in Kindle format, but you can also use the Kindle Cloud Reader to read on your computer. I have a blog at mbushman.com. I’m on Facebook at facebook.com/authorMikeBushman and on Twitter at m_bushman.

Frank: Did your siblings–did any of them have any similar thoughts? Did you later find out or know at the time?

Mike: No. In fact, they didn’t even recognize where I was and where my depression was. Now, part of that was at the time I was going through that I would leave school, go to work and get home usually around bedtime and on weekends I would work until one or two in the morning, so I wasn’t around the house all that much. But no, I was so ashamed of it, I didn’t want them to understand or see how I felt and they really didn’t have those same issues.

La Tonia: Did you secretly want them to throw you a life raft?

Michael: Yeah, there’s no question that I needed somebody to throw me a life raft. In some cases, the life raft was as simple as when my mom found my pot stash in my guitar case. I thought I had successfully convinced her it was an herb collection when my brother and sister pointed out that that was not what was in my guitar case.

Frank: Where are you in the age range of your siblings?

Michael: Second oldest. We were 14 years youngest to oldest. The youngest were a baby and then just a two and three year old; three of us all within a couple of years of each other though at the older end.

Frank: And this being Frank Relationships, let’s turn the conversation a little bit and I want to find out how does this dynamic of teenage depression and suicide, how does it affect relationships? You may talk about your parents, how they were affected or even what you brought into your teenage relationships or your 20’s even?

Michael: Certainly as a teenager I really couldn’t have a healthy relationship, because I didn’t believe anybody could possibly love me. In fact, I noted in the book that there was a girl or two who had asked me on dates, but I thought they were doing it as a joke–

Frank: Yep.

Michael: Because they couldn’t possibly want to be with me. I would turn down the opportunities for happiness, because I just couldn’t believe anybody could see anything worthwhile in me and I figured they’d be ridiculing me or making fun of me or using me as part of some sort of joke. It made it difficult. You can’t have a healthy relationship, a loving relationship when you don’t love yourself and I think that was something important I had to work through and learn before I could have loving relationships.

Now, depression can also be a real struggle on a teenage relationship. I mentioned I spoke to a local high school yesterday and I got an email from one of the girls who attended it who is really struggling, because the guy she had been dating threatened to kill himself if he broke up with her. So, suicide sometimes is used as a weapon to control and manipulate others, and she was struggling with how to deal with that.

Frank: Okay.

Michael: I had had a similar circumstance in college where I’d broken up with somebody who said she was going to go kill herself. And really, in those circumstances you have to care for the person, you have to let them know that there’s a lot of good and value in them, but it’s just not the right fit between the two of you. I said, “The only thing you can do is, say it’s not the right fit. It doesn’t mean that’s there’s anything wrong with you. There are plenty of people who are going to love you, it’s just not me.” It does add some complications to the relationships.

Frank: Do you run for the hills after you say that or do you stay close?

Michael: With what I did in college was actually was the first time was give into it and go back with her for awhile and then realized it just wasn’t healthy for either of us. We weren’t going to be happy together and it could be that part of that was given my depression history the last thing that I felt that I could deal with was helping somebody else through that same thing while I was still struggling with it.

La Tonia: I have a question about that. A great segue about your depression history. How have you turned this on a dime in your life and created success in relationships and in your life?

Michael: I think the biggest thing for me was to set a goal for myself, to do things. I had to stop with drugs, because I knew that was going to take me down a path that I couldn’t recover from. I also had to get realistic about what I could achieve in life and wanted to achieve in life.

I grow up wanting to be this traveling country folk rock singer, traveling around the country with my guitar, but in sixth grade I had choir teacher come up to me and say, “You know, when we have this concert tonight, can you please not sing out loud, because people are coming here to enjoy it.”

La Tonia: Oh, wow.

Frank: That went a long way to you feeling better about yourself.

Michael: Oh yeah, but the one thing that I realized is that I really did have no musical talent. Sometimes when people criticize you they’re wrong. I’ve been told I’m a bad writer and those people I’ve ignored, because I knew they had their prospective, but it wasn’t a fit with how I see the world, but when it came to musical talent, it was pretty clear I was tone deaf and it would be a bad career path.

Then, figuring out where do I want to go, what talent do I have that I can be happy using, was part of the struggle. You don’t always find it as a teen. Sometimes you don’t even find it for many years into adulthood. In fact, many of us go through life–

La Tonia: Purpose aside though, when did you start having fun? When did you–

Michael: You know–

La Tonia: Do you remember?

Michael: My sophomore years were more of my really tough years and really as I started to fill a sense of purpose and worth and started to achieve some of the things that I wanted to in high school, like I was doing while at work, I was given a chance to be a weekend manager and with the school newspaper I was made editor and chief of the newspaper, so some of those achievements that reached helped validate that I had a purpose in life. I think that really came along and it was about that time that I met a couple of guys who are still my best friends, that having those friendship relationships also was an important part of helping me get out of it.
I’ve actually, as I told the students yesterday, I’ve lived a good life. I’ve had great careers. I’ve worked in Congress for six years. I had some great experiences there. I spent 20 years in the corporate world, getting to travel around the world, do things that I never thought I might be able to do. I’ve been married for over 25 years. I’ve got 19, 22 year kids, I’m very proud of, so I’ve had a great life. I’ve had a lot of good that’s come to me in my life. I’ve worked very hard for it.

You can get past that point and really my message to the kids in high school particular is, you’re not stuck with how you feel today, but you can work your way towards the happiness and the joy that you deserve and along the way find your purpose and the true value that you bring to life.

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You are listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Mr. Michael Bushman, author of Suicide Escape. One more time–actually we’re going to do this a couple more times. Could you tell me how we can find you and your book?

Michael: Yes, Suicide Escape is available on Amazon and it’s available on Kindle format, but you can also read it through the Kindle download reader on your computer. My blog is mbushman.com. I’m on facebook at facebook.com/authorMikeBushman and on Twitter @m_bushman.

Frank: You mentioned your marriage. How does a suicide contemplating teenager end up in a marriage that lasts 20 years?

La Tonia: Twenty five years.

Michael: It’s an interesting story. I was editor and chief of the college newspaper at the University of Illinois and my wife ran to be student government president the next year. She came in. We met when she came in asking for an endorsement and then she, right before the election, got her opponent to drop out by changing her views on an issue. So, I wrote a column about how it was clear she was a political whore ready for Chicago *(inaudible) 44:26 and somehow that was endearing. And really our first date was the day before my graduation.

She was staying another year. We did the long distance relationship while I lived in D.C. for the next year and really, I think I had just learned enough about myself, enough about loving myself and others through the battle with depression that I think in some ways you’re better prepared to have a good relationship.

Frank: And your children–tell us how many children do you have and give us a nugget about how that experience has led to you being the parent that you are today and what you talk to them about?

Michael: The two children, the 22 year old, the 19 year old are both in college now. Certainly, it affected how I parented, because I realized I needed to be nurturing. I also realized that I had created some of my own worst problems with some of my behavior, so I watched out for those warning signals.

The truth is that you can’t stop your kids from doing things. You can just try and help them learn from it quickly and maybe not repeat mistakes. You do your best to help them, but they’re both doing really well and I’m proud of both of them. We kept them active, because one of the things that can cause trouble is having too much time on your hand. They were both basketball players and spent a lot of time with some traveling basketball teams. I think it helped me not just with my kids, but it’s really helped me understand people through the years.

In fact, I’ve had people who worked for me over the years who were dealing with real serious depression issues and I think the fact that I had that experience as a teenager helped me be able to coach and counsel them to still be successful at work as they dealt with the personal issues that they were struggling with.

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You’re listening to Frank Relationships and we’re talking with Michael Bushman, author of three novels including his newest, Suicide Escape, which addresses deeply personal stories of teenage depression. One more time Mike, how can our listeners and how can I find you and your book?

Michael: The book is available on Amazon and Kindle format, but you can also download it and read on your computer at Kindle Cloud Reader. I have a blog at mbushman.com. I’m on Facebook at facebook.com/authorMikeBushman and on Twitter @m_bushman.

Frank: Along today’s journey, we’ve discussed a feeling of hopelessness, manning up and the whole concept around it and why it can be problematic and relationships after feeling suicidal. I hope you’ve has as much fun and I hope you’ve learned as much as I have about teenage suicide and suicide prevention.

As always, it’s my wish for you to walk away from this conversation with a heaping helping of useful information that’ll help you create a relationship that’s as loving and accepting as possible. Let us know what you thought of today’s show at facebook.com/relationshipflove, on Twitter @mrfranklove or franklove.com,

On behalf of my producer, Phileta Legette, and my engineer, Jeff Newman, keep rising. This is Frank Love.

END OF TRANSCRIPT

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How to Gracefully Exit a Relationship

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