A son’s suicide, a mother’s grief, and her message of hope for others

My manner of doing issues and abusing issues has not precisely labored. It has led me to the place I am right this moment, scared, alone and preventing for my life.

So reads an excerpt of a searingly sincere letter from Tyler Pittman, giving voice to his internal turmoil whereas at the Humberwood Remedy Centre in Nook Brook, an inpatient program for individuals coping with addictions.

The letter is, at occasions, onerous to learn — because the St. John’s man dissects his addictions’ grip over him and the wrestle to acknowledge his personal value in a manner few can articulate. It is equal components doubt and hope, and laced with an ominous high quality, as if the letter was drenched in gasoline and a matchbook was inside arm’s attain. 

If Tyler would not love Tyler there can be no cheap relationship sooner or later, loneliness and discontent will prevail… I one way or the other have to like myself for who I am and cease working.

5 years later, a totally different description of Tyler appeared in print. This time, it was a part of his obituary, after his suicide on Might 18:

Ceaselessly let’s keep in mind how his smile lightened our hearts, how good it felt to be round him, and the way simple it was to like him. 


Helen Pittman remembers her son’s early years as cheerful ones.

He favored math, and cherished baseball, hanging round St. Pat’s Ball Park a lot groups took him on as a batboy and invited him on the street for tournaments.

“He was all people’s little brother,” she recalled.

Tyler and his dad Randy Pittman shared a love of hockey — particularly the Montreal Canadiens — in addition to different sports activities. (Submitted by Colleen Pittman)

However even then, Helen noticed nervousness beginning to creep in. When her son was denied a chance to attempt pitching across the age of 11, she noticed his detrimental response and felt a seed had been planted, “and it began to sprout.”

From there, she mentioned, his nervousness and wish for perfection grew, and by Grade 9 she and her husband realized one thing was improper.

Then, got here ingesting and medicines, she mentioned. And what she known as, at first, “episodes.”

“First, it could be like screaming, and that sort of frustration. After which it could come and go. However as he obtained older, they turned very common,” she advised CBC Radio’s On The Go. He turned bodily, hitting objects and himself as if “attempting to beat out all this torment that was inside,” she mentioned.

The Pittmans sought assist, tried to observe household physician strategies and bounced round by means of the health-care system. However having to repeat his points appeared to frustrate him, mentioned Helen, as a result of “it simply appeared like he was repeating his story time and again and over, and no person was listening.”

Helen Pittman remembers her son as mental and well-spoken. (Submitted by Colleen Pittman)

‘A endless cycle’

One occasion within the string of these makes an attempt stands out to her, when her son went to the Well being Sciences Centre saying he was having suicidal ideas.

He was transported to the Waterford Hospital, with Helen driving behind. She wasn’t allowed to accompany him throughout his session, however within the car parking zone afterwards, Helen mentioned, her son advised her he’d been given a referral and advised to give up smoking a lot weed.

There, at her automotive, Helen mentioned she watched her son lose hope and management, beating his arms on the automotive to the purpose that his knuckles have been bleeding and his arms have been swollen.

“And he mentioned to me, ‘Mother,’ he mentioned, ‘why do they suppose I am doing medicine and I am ingesting? It isn’t as a result of I wakened one morning and determined this was what I wished to do. Do they not understand I’ve points? I need assist.'”

“I believe at that time, he gave up,” she mentioned.

Helen believes her son’s means to articulate and purpose — so evident in his Humberwood letter — additionally impeded getting assist. She mentioned his emotional tailspins would usually peter out by the point he managed to see a medical skilled, forsaking a person who, from the skin, appeared calm, or a minimum of spent. 

“He was well-spoken. He was very mild-mannered, and that was simply a part of who Tyler was,” she mentioned.

So long as you bought one other day, and also you open your eyes, and you may breathe, there’s all the time hope.– Helen Pittman

However his melancholy and addictions continued, and grew extra complicated. Helen mentioned she felt as if he was sporting a masks, the place individuals round him noticed a lovable good friend or relative, whereas his personal self-perception was extra akin to a funhouse mirror.

His father’s demise in 2010 hit him notably onerous, what Helen Pittman and his sisters known as “the tip of the iceberg.” 

Tyler’s addictions and psychological well being points continued, as did his household’s makes an attempt to assist him. Helen Pittman would drive him to jobs doing electrical work every morning, even when he had outbursts within the automotive on the way in which there. For some time he moved to British Columbia and lived together with his sister Jillian Pittman, ending up in hospital after a suicide try.

“It went on, and on and on, it was only a endless cycle,” she mentioned.

Tyler lived together with his sister Jillian Pittman whereas he was in British Columbia. (Submitted by Colleen Pittman)

The lengthy weekend

When the pandemic hit, Tyler was again in St. John’s. He’d thrown himself into dwelling renovations, engaged on the home his father died in.

Helen Pittman watched, tinged with hope: Tyler was outlining concrete plans, and placing in bathe curtains, taking steps into the longer term. However like anybody who has a cherished one affected by psychological sickness, Helen Pittman was fearful as effectively, that any little setback might spark greater issues.

That spark got here on the Victoria Day weekend, as Tyler’s frustrations with placing a brand new ground down bubbled over.

Helen mentioned he started placing himself down, ingesting, and regardless of household presents to assist vanished for a time period — leaving his family members on excessive alert.

However he returned on the Sunday night, and Helen tried to purpose together with her son in his depressed and drunk state, and maintain her go to non-confrontational. Tyler had taken a hammer and punched holes within the partitions, she mentioned, and he apologized to her for it.

Helen could not shake the sense that issues weren’t going to get higher. “I knew what was coming,” she mentioned.

On Monday afternoon she checked in once more.

“He picked me up and gave me the most important hug. He lifted me off the ground and throwed me round. He’d by no means carried out that,” she mentioned, including it set her comfortable. He promised he was going to sleep.

The day after that, when Helen popped in once more, “it was too late.”

Tyler was useless.

Tyler, far left, shares amusing together with his three uncles Ken, Chris and Dave Pittman, and cousin Justin Pittman. (Submitted by Colleen Pittman)

‘There’s all the time hope’

Within the wake of his demise, as Helen tries to make sense of occasions that may’t all the time be made sense of, she needs to make one factor clear.

“My worry is that individuals will say he took the straightforward manner out,” she mentioned, including nothing may very well be farther from the reality.

“His life wasn’t simple. He suffered each single day … it was courageous of him to stand up each day.”

Up till the top, she mentioned, Tyler was attempting to cope with his points. He had been doing phone counselling after in-person periods have been cancelled resulting from pandemic considerations. Amid all of the household’s frustrations with the health-care system, and feeling like facets of it failed him, Helen mentioned he was nonetheless searching for assist.

“The message that I wish to get out to individuals is that, do not hand over. I might say this to Tyler: so long as you bought one other day, and also you open your eyes, and you may breathe, there’s all the time hope.”

Struggling each day together with his illness and his addictions, Tyler Pittman fought to maintain that hope alive inside him throughout his lifetime.

So what is that this letter actually about? It is about my incapability to really feel and cope with my very own emotions. It is about my steady work that I have to full in an try to like myself and to proceed rebuilding myself…

Learn Tyler Pittman’s full letter beneath.


The place to get assist:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service: 1-833-456-4566 (cellphone) | 45645 (textual content) | http://www.crisisservicescanada.ca/ (chat)

In Quebec (French): Association québécoise de prévention du suicide: 1-866-APPELLE (1-866-277-3553)

Youngsters Assist Cellphone: 1-800-668-6868 (cellphone), Dwell Chat counselling at www.kidshelpphone.ca

Canadian Affiliation for Suicide Prevention: Find a 24-hour crisis centre


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