March 22, 2019
David was our middle child of 5. He was a happy boy with a ready smile and a zest for life. He was raised in a Christian home with a family that loved him. He attended church weekly and memorized Scripture for the Awanas program as well as for the private Christian school he attended. He believed in Jesus and was baptized by his great uncle at age 6. At around age 13, his smile disappeared and he changed from an honest God loving boy to what appeared to be a rebellious troubled teen. Simultaneously, his mom was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and the family became involved in the fight for her survival. We weren’t sure what was happening with David for some time and attributed his changes to puberty.
He researched the internet about marijuana and was convinced it was safe and was his answer. He felt it was all good. He said it helped his “social anxiety”. He felt he could finally talk easily to his peers and felt accepted. In 9th grade he was kicked out of the private school for buying a joint from an older student on the football team. He was kicked out and placed in a large public school in the middle of the Spring semester.
It was a tough transition. David felt like a loser. The boys he’d grown up with were no longer there for his support. They attended our church, and David got to where he didn’t want to go. He spent more time with a friend that introduced him to pot and picked up an interest in heavy metal music with a demonic leaning. He was in complete rebellion. We got him into weekly counseling, but made no progress turning him back around. High school was a challenge. Marijuana combined with a diagnosis of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and his low self- esteem was a toxic combination. David lost any desire to succeed at school or anything else. He
became apathetic with no motivation for life. There were times when he’d get into alcohol and become angry and combative. Several times we called the police to our home. He ran away for short periods numerous times. On a family trip to Vail the summer before 11th grade, he tried to sell us on the “merits” of weed. He’d found a website that supported cannabis use from a
religious perspective. God made it and gave us receptors for it he argued.
In spite of the turmoil, David graduated from high school, but on graduation day, he stayed in his dark room with no intention of attending the ceremony. A few months after graduation, a local plumber gave him a job as a plumbers assistant. He liked the job and did well at the start.
Unfortunately, a paycheck enabled him to buy and smoke more pot.
He was becoming more and more disrespectful to his Mom and me. We set some house rules. No substances and he must respect us and keep a job to be allowed to stay at our house. Labor Day weekend 2018, he smoked weed anyway and drank cough syrup with dextromethorphan. We discovered it wasn’t his first time using other substances along with marijuana. He had developed a fascination with “psychedelics’ and wished to escape reality.
We packed him a suitcase and put him out. He stayed with a coworker, sleeping on his sofa for 7 weeks before he returned home. He promised he would not do substances and would respect us, so we welcomed him back in. Before long, however, we noticed him acting strangely. We noticed inappropriate smiling and squinting of his eyes. We drug tested him and found his urine positive for THC, so we took his truck keys. We told him once his urine was negative for THC, he could have his keys back. He never got them back.
By Thanksgiving, we noticed a big change in his behavior. He would isolate himself and appear catatonic. We caught him several times sitting or standing in his blacked out room. The day after Thanksgiving, he slept most of the day. He got up in the afternoon and stabbed himself in the right palm with two deep cuts. After stitching him up, we admitted him to a mental health facility. He was there 6 days when he was discharged. The diagnosis from the hospitalization was Major Depressive Disorder with psychosis. We protested his discharge, but David got in my face and said, “Dad, don’t leave me here! This place is not what it appears! They do not care about you!” I assured him we would not leave him. There had been no discharge
recommendation for what to do afterwards but we arranged for him to enter an outpatient program.
On the 4th day of the outpatient program, David was let out at 1:30. He went home, smoked weed in the woods on the back of our property, came inside, got a handgun from the safe and shot himself in the head. I found him still alive, but unconscious. It was a fatal wound.
Tragically, my son was a victim of marijuana induced mental health impacts that led him to take his life. The relationship of depression, anxiety, panic and psychosis with cannabis use is well established. Heavy users have 7 times increased risk of suicide. Pot caused my beautiful son to take his life during a psychotic break. What he thought helped his social anxiety and depression, actually did just the opposite. I am thankful that David knew the Lord at an early age. I know where he is and I know I will see him again, but dear God how we miss him! Please do not start down the road that took my son’s life.
Story submitted by Dr. James, a Texas father.