Perhaps the only thing more devastating than having to bury your own
child, is knowing that child took his own life. On October 15th of
last year, John and Susan Trautwein of Johns Creek, Georgia had their
lives changed forever when they found their 15-year old son, Will,
dead from suicide in their home.
"It was devastating to us," said Trautwein. who pitched in the major
leagues with the Boston Red Sox in 1988. "We had no idea that Will
was suffering on the inside. Up until the day he died he was talking about
the fun stuff on his plate. He was going to get his driving permit literally
the next day and his braces off next week. His band (Will was a guitar player)
was playing their first gig in two weeks. He was very excited about all
three of those."
The emotions for Trautwein and his family are still very raw. The pain
of losing their son will never go away. Will was a good-looking kid who
was popular in school, and excelled as an athlete and musician. He appeared
to have it all. But he was depressed, something the Trautwein's didn't
know about until it was too late. John admits there is some guilt and often
wonders if he could've saved Will.
"But we truly are not sure what we could've done," said Trautwein. "He
lived in a happy home. He was so loved and he was told and shown how much
he was loved every single day. We now know, after being a bit more educated
on depression and suicide that we could have done more. Yet, he's now gone.
If it can happen to a young man like Will, it truly can happen to anyone."
Trautwein wants to help make sure the tragedy he and his family suffered,
doesn't happen to anyone else. With teenage suicide in the country on the rise,
that may seem like an impossible task, but Trautwein, who played baseball
at Northwestern, is going to do his best to help teenagers in Georgia, as much
as he possibly can. He and his wife recently established "The Will to Live
Foundation", in their son's honor.
"We feel that Will's hand along with God's hand is on our back saying, 'do this
mom, do this dad, this is good.' If we can get kids and families and the
communities to understand that depression is everywhere, even in the most
popular kids like my son, and to understand that these kids are dealing with
the pressures that are more intense than what we went through, then it's a great
In this day and age of Facebook, Twitter, and everything else that comes
with the Internet, the social pressure that teens endure has intensified. Trautwein
knows it can have a dramatic effect on them.
"Absolutely. If they have a bad day or make a mistake or take a bad picture,
within seconds it's 'Nationwide'-unlike anything we ever had. So it truly adds
to the pressures they face and put on themselves."
Trautwein realizes that he'll never be able to bring Will back or have the tough
questions on why he committed suicide answered. But he is certain that
establishing the foundation was the right thing to do.
"We know Will would've been in the front row of a foundation like this
had the circumstances been different," Trautwein said. "We are making
something positive out of a tragic story. Something positive out of our
son's legacy. This foundation is promoting all the things Will stood for
and it gives up so much comfort and strength."
For more on Will and the foundation and the ways you can help out,
please view www.will-to-live.org.