The message said, “A kid at my school died.” It was a text message from my granddaughter, who attends middle school. I automatically assumed it was a child who died after a long (or short) battle with cancer. Or perhaps, it was an automobile accident that stole this young person’s life at such a young age. After school, I spoke with my granddaughter. I was wrong about how the child died. It wasn’t an accident and it wasn’t cancer. It was suicide.

When I heard the child, and 8th grade girl, committed suicide, I again made assumptions. It had to be because her boyfriend broke up with her. Maybe she was extremely overweight and was being teased relentlessly. Maybe it was becasue she was constantly being bullied at school. Again, I was wrong.

This young girl, a mere 8th grader, a child who had just entered her teens, who should have been looking forward to high school, the summer ahead of her, of just the simple pleasure of heanging out with her friends. This young girl couldn’t find joy in any of that. She couldn’t let go of the pain she felt. She couldn’t let go of the sorrow she felt. Life was so intolerable for her that she felt she had to end it. So she did. She hung herself and her life ended.

So what, you ask, was so terrible that this young girl counldn’t bear to live any longer? She was in the middle of the battle of her life, the battle between her parents. You see, her parents were divorcing and were in a bitter custody dispute. She could no longer take the tug of war, the constant arguing, each parent’s righteous indignation that he/she was the best parent. This couple, whom I can only assume loved their daughter and wanted what was best for her, were so caught up in their own emotions and the custody battle over her, that they lost sight of her all together. They missed the signs. They didn’t see what they were doing to her. They didn’t realize what they were putting her through. These parents missed what was right in front of them, a little girl, their little girl, who believed her only way out of this situation was to kill herself.

So I ask, are you in the middle of a custody battle, or do you know someone who is? Is the power struggle worth losing your child over? Now, this obviously isn’t the way most custody battles end. But, it isn’t unheard of either. Whatever you do, if you are in the middle of a custody dispute, don’t involve the children. Don’t use them as messengers. Don’t speak unkindly about the other parent, no matter what you think of them. Don’t interrogate your child at the end of the custodial time period with the other parent. Don’t argue in front of the child. Don’t let them know when you are visiting your lawyer, or when you are in court. Do everything you can to make life for your child easy and pleasant. Whatever you do, don’t let the facts in this article become your reality.