Tara Martin never saw it coming.
Neither she nor her husband Scott saw any signs that anything was wrong in the life of their 14-year-old son, Tyler, before March 17 — when the Rainbow Middle School eighth-grader ended his own life.
“He’d gotten in trouble at school,” Tara said, but it was nothing serious. “I don’t think that had anything to do with it,” she said.
While their son was not a troublemaker, he’d been in trouble before; if he was punished, she said, he just said he was sorry and that was it.
She had brought him home from school about 9 a.m., she said. He spent most of the day unsupervised while Scott, who works nights, slept.
“If we’d thought he was that upset, we would have never left him alone,” Tara said.
Within days of losing Tyler so unexpectedly, Martin told friend and co-worker Jessica Ponder she wanted to do something to raise awareness about suicide.
In the months since, they have formed Behind the Smile Inc., a nonprofit with the goal of educating young people and their parents about the risk of suicide — even among kids who don’t seem to be troubled, who don’t seem to be at risk.
“One thing people always mentioned about Tyler was what a beautiful smile he had,” Jessica said, “and that he was always happy.”
Tara believes now that despite that smile, there had to have been something troubling him — something they didn’t see and can’t pinpoint now.
“I’ll have that question for the rest of my life,” Tara said.
Their plan is to provide literature to Etowah County schools about suicide and, eventually, to bring speakers in to talk about mental health…
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