“What’s going on with my e-mail account?” – Braden’s Dad

“It could be that I have something people need to hear.” – Braden Speed

“Daddy, today I helped a boy at school. I let him know I cared.” – Braden’s sister

The response to our first blog was astounding. Sharing from our hearts in transparency apparently struck some kind of common chord.

I’m an organizer of things. Maybe a bit OCD, although I don’t go so far as to label my socks “L” and “R”. On the other hand, don’t open our bedroom closet door because it isn’t pretty.

When it comes to managing email, I take pride in never having more than ten in my intray. After the initial blog, “Dream Nightmare” posted, I went to the gym. We got some groceries and I ran by the post office. A few hours later we got home and I pulled out my phone to check the calendar. The email app showed 66 notifications. What?? “Dang it. Setting up that WordPress blog account must have sold my email address to scammers and robot junk e-mailers.

But when I checked the emails to delete them and to set up a new address, I found hundreds of notes from individuals whom we have never met who were touched by our story. How amazing the internet can be.

We have mixed feelings about this anomaly. Such a heightened level of interest confirms there is, in fact a clear message in what Braden had to say. His message resonates because it is truth; it is heartfelt, and yet it is so elementary in its simplicity. It’s also consoling to our souls to find others walking a similar path.

However, it’s ironic and concerning that a story about teen depression and suicide is no longer a depressing blog no one wants to read, but just the opposite. People are thirsting for transparency because they have a private story of their own and they want to know how to navigate their way.


There isn’t a checklist to ensure you won’t experience our nightmare. If there were, we could eradicate the suicide epidemic immediately.  After all, we’re checklist people, right?  Wouldn’t that be efficient. I can’t truthfully say we have the answers. However, we have identified a couple of big pieces in this thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle of teen culture.

All I have to offer here is what our sweet and very special son, Braden would tell me if he were here, that would have kept him alive one more minute, a day, a week, or a year… a lifetime?

That was:  “True Purpose and just one real and loyal caring friend at school would have sustained me” 

Parents: What can We Do!?

In our home, we now pack a lunch and have breakfast at our counter bar.  We say a really simple and quick prayer, most times on the run. The prayer is fast and often a little humorous. Nothing wordy or fancy. It just comes from the soul. And each day we have begun charging Caitlin to find one person that day in school to reach through the thin invisible “Comfort Zone” and to touch another kid’s life. I then ask at day’s end who she found and their name. That’s important. It’s a fun but purposeful way to teach about being Christ-like. She then goes out the door with a “mission”.

Yesterday, I asked and she said a little boy was in his wheelchair and couldn’t get the switch to operate so he was embarrassed. She asked if she could help and he nodded. She was able to jiggle it and get it to work. Then she said, “Hope ya have a great day”.


I asked how Caitlin felt that made him feel?  She replied, “Good”.

I then asked, how did YOU feel by doing that?:   “I felt really good”.

Last question: “Why?”

Her response “I helped someone to know they had a person in the world who cared”.

Reader:  Know that I am one who wants to respond to every personal note because we are intimately virtual friends sharing a similar experience. Please know that’s just who I am.

However, please also understand I’m a husband to Cathy and a daddy to Caitlin. I read each and every note and often read them aloud to my family. We are all being comforted by your prayers and personal stories. If I don’t respond I trust you understand.

With the complete trust and reliance on the Holy Sprit, Braden’s Voice is being heard.

Bless you and please remember to bless those who need you.

15 thoughts on “Encouraged

  1. When I found your blog it brought me to tears. Our beautiful daughter went down this path and by the grace of our beloved savior did not succeed in her attempt to end her pain. Not only is taking one’s life at an epidemic level but so is bullying. We have spent hours at each of our kids’ schools over the years and nothing is ever done. We finally removed them from public school and went to online school. I know this is not an option for everyone and to those I say stay vigilant in your efforts to stand up for your child, make the staff afraid when they see you walk through there doors. IT IS SO HARD, but be that parent. I send you all my love, hugs and prayers.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am so very sorry for your loss. My husband’s only child, my beloved stepson, Mac, took his life in July. None of us know why, including his best friends. He was 26 and had just graduated college in May. My sister forwarded your blog to me and I am grateful that you are sharing Braden’s story with us. He must be looking down from heaven with a grateful heart that you are helping others in his name. Peace to you and your family.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Judy,

      Thank you for your sweet note. Every story is slightly different but all said, we all need to go deeper with others in care and “real”-ness. You may have just written a future blog!🙏🏻


  3. Good morning. I loved this message. I just wanted to tell you that your and your family’s hearts are wonderful and I am here for the inspiration and love. My 20 year old son has struggled with anxiety and depression since 16, and has taken to self medicating in very dangerous ways. He’s a typical addict at this point – either using or clawing his way through recovery. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

    I’m a typical mom of an adolescent addict – trying to find my way through the very large space between tough love and enabling. It’s lonely and terrifying and filled with hopeless nights.

    While our stories are very different I feel your heartache and want you to know that you all are in my heart.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My son was in a math class with your Braden this year. When he heard what had happened he was so sad but he also said he wasn’t surprised. He said so many kids are walking around without a close group of friends, people they can rely on. He said he had spoken to Braden several times and thought he was a cool kid but he didn’t know how to break through that barrier of casual acquaintance to friend. I think one of our problems right now I we are so concerned with teaching our kids academics that we aren’t taking the time to teach them how to be a good friend, how to relate face to face, showing authentic compassion and care for one another. I’m praying for your family and praying that my son won’t stop learning how to reach others with genuine love.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Shannon, your nite means the world to us because your son knew ours! Also, that your son wants to change things. Know help in training as you mentioned is on its way. That’s all I can share here but in the near future, tell your boy he won’t be alone.


  5. Thank you for sharing your son’s voice. His cry for inclusion is so powerful, and one that many of us have felt. As an educator, it will be my goal to make the shift from teaching kindness to teaching inclusion. Starting today. I will also be including these conversations around my dinner table at home. Braden’s voice resonates. Prayers for your family ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is so moving to hear! MAKE a real difference. Hoping some practical ways to do this will continue to spring forth. Please share with us what you find helpful as a teacher. God will bless you. Trust me.


  6. We too lost our 19 year old son 13 months ago. We have become activists on his behalf through both social media and direct participation through the AFSP and the LGBTQ (Jack was gay) community. I have been amazed at the number of people who have privately reached out to us. Jack is changing lives and attitudes through us. We will never stop this work until we are called to join him. Godspeed on your own journey.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Kim. I’m so sorry. We are in a club together we never wanted to join. However, being transparent and hopeful for impact now is our purpose. Let us know if we might do something together in that mission. God bless your family.


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