Even Kids Who Seem Happy Commit Suicide, Says a Father Who’s Been There


When 15-year-old Will Trautwein committed suicide, his father, former Boston Red Sox pitcher John Trautwein, was so surprised, at first. He thought his son’s death had to have been murder. He said he never thought in a million years his son would take his own life. 


“He was the happiest, most successful kid, the leader of his group of tons of friends,” Trautwein told CBN News. “He was very big and strong, very popular, very healthy.”


Trautwein says he didn’t realize his son was suffering from depression. In fact, no one knew. 


“We thought he was living the perfect life, and up until the morning of October 15th, 2010, when we found him lifeless, we thought he was a happy, successful, popular young man,” said Trautwein. 


“We have a very close family, a very loving home, and the concept of suicide or mental illness or depression or anything like that was never mentioned… It wasn’t considered an issue, an option, or anything.”


“As found out very quickly that was indeed not the case and I just wish I would’ve known more about that before Will passed,” he added.


In the wake of the tragedy, Trautwein said he never found a “normal” reason Will took his own life, but he did find out what Will had struggled with.


“He had a mental illness. He suffered from depression and depression is very maskable. He had what’s called a functioning depression,” Trautwein told CBN News. “So we had no idea that he was struggling in any way, shape, or form.”


Because of that, Trautwein is trying to raise awareness about teen depression, in order to prevent any other parent from suffering the nightmare he has lived through: the suicide of a teen child. 

He wrote the book, “My Living Will: A Father’s Story of Loss and Hope.” He and his wife, Susie, created The Will To Live Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to increasing education around the stigma of mental health. He told CBN News that it’s something, “Society doesn’t allow us to talk about.”


He says the foundation “was born as a way to raise the awareness” for teen suicide, but “through the voice of teenagers themselves.”


One in six teens suffer from depression which is often untreated. Twelve teenagers commit suicide every day in America.


But in the midst of unfathomable grief, perhaps what Trautwein found most important was holding onto his faith, and even growing in his faith. Trautwein kept his faith in God throughout this tragedy, and instilled his faith into his family as well. Because of this, no matter how down he felt, his faith was always able to lift him up.


He told CBN News that God helped him and his family through their tragedy. 


“If you would have told me that I was going to lose my oldest child to suicide, I think I would have said, ‘well maybe my faith wouldn’t stay with me,'” he said.


“But the exact opposite happened. My faith got stronger… immediately. And it almost had to. Without my faith, Will is nothing but ashes. With my faith, Will is in the arms of God, and he’s talking to Jesus, and he’s an angel, and he’s in paradise, and he’s in a place where he doesn’t feel that pain and suffering of depression,” said Trautwein. 


“The morning that he died… My other three kids and my wife were just devastated, and when the minister came, he gave a prayer. He grabbed us and we got in a circle and he simply said, ‘thank you God for catching him,'” Trautwein said. “At that point, it was like all of us had an answer to where was Will. And that was very big to us.”


“I wouldn’t call us an extremely religious family, but I’ll tell you what – that prayer probably saved us all, and it made my faith that much stronger,” he added.


While grieving, Trautwein and his family were amazed at the outpouring of support from their friends, family and “life teammates,” as Trautwein says. It was through this support he received that Trautwein decided to take this tragedy and make it into something positive.


Trautwein said he felt God speaking through the many people who reached out to him and his family. He said he saw the Holy Spirit directing the various acts of kindness shown to them by people who were offering comfort


“A lot of very strong people of faith I knew were asking the question, ‘where was God?'” he told CBN News. “God was in the hands of every friend that was with me that morning, and with my family that morning, and is still there for us today.”


“Despite the devastating tragedy we went through, there was an incredible amount of inspirational things that happened to us,” Trautwein said.