HYRUM, Utah (AP) — It was raining last Saturday when Linda Bodily stopped at the Hyrum Cemetery to see her son. She straightened the Christmas stocking hung beside the headstone bearing his name and rearranged the stars strung over the slab of granite.
"It is hard to see the seasons change as I get older — and he does not," she said. "It just makes me mad."
Trenton Bodily would have been 18 by now. Instead, just a few weeks before his birthday in April, the young man ended his life.
He is one of more than two dozen people in Cache Valley who have died of suicide since the beginning of January.
While there is a long-standing myth that suicide rates increase during the holidays, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Health Statistics reports that December rates are generally the lowest in the year.
However in Cache Valley this month, local law enforcement agencies have responded to almost daily calls on suicidal individuals, suicide attempts, and suicide fatalities.
Logan Police Chief Gary Jensen said there was one instance where the officers on a single shift responded to one fatality and four or five suicidal individuals in just one night.
"This is a real issue" Bodily said. "People are dying. We have got to have hard conversations about things that suck. We can't leave it to an Internet search."
Bodily understands firsthand how painful it is to talk about suicide and why many people choose not to do so. But, in an effort to help others, she is fighting her own personal wishes and sharing her son's story in hopes of helping other people contemplating death or the families of those who have died.
"There is nothing about this I want to share," Bodily said. "But, it is something I need to share — it is too important."
Trenton was amazing she said — a loving, gentle soul, very sensitive, and so empathetic toward others that it pained him when he couldn't help them. He was an artist, he loved music, he was funny and kind of shy.
"My son wasn't one to share or to be front and center," Bodily said. "In fact, this would tick him off, but I hope he understands."
At 17, he had found his voice; he had his own groove.
"He was very unique; he didn't fit in the 'patterns,' but he was not unique in his pain," Bodily said.
"During the last three months of his life, I just had this horrible feeling, just this mom feeling," she said.
Trenton suffered from depression and anxiety, and Feb. 27, 2014, the date of his death, was not his first attempt at suicide. His most recent attempt was just 10 days prior to his death when he tried to overdose on medication.
Three days before he died, he was released from Logan Regional Hospital's Behavioral Health Unit. He was on medication and had seen both his psychiatrist and his primary care physician.
"The last time I saw him, he was happy, he was feeling motivated," she said. "I was always checking up on him. And he would tell me 'If I am going to do this (commit suicide), there is nothing you can do.'"
On Feb. 27, she tried to call him at his dad's home, but she was unable to reach him. She said it was not unusual for him to sleep a lot.
Later that day, the Hyrum family's tragedy unfolded inside Bryan Bodily's residence, when a younger sibling got home from school and found Trenton's body inside.
"I got a call from Trenton's dad at work; he told me to get to the house right away," Linda said. She left her job at Logan Regional Hospital, but as she maneuvered through traffic on Main Street, she knew she needed help. She called 911 and agreed to drive to the Logan Police Department.
A Logan police detective drove her to mother's residence in Hyrum to be with her younger son, and he made arrangements for other law enforcement officers to transport an older son from Ephraim to Hyrum.
She never got the detective's name, but she has never forgotten his voice and his manner that day.
After making sure her younger son was OK, Bodily said she wanted nothing more than to see Trenton and be with him. She started running in the rain, frantic to get to her son, two to three miles away.
She described the ordeal as being like living in the worst horror movie.
"There is no worse thing than not being able to keep him safe. The thought that I could not protect him was just hell," Bodily said. "It's not a place anyone ever wants to be. It's not something you can explain, it is just a real physical loss."
Months after his death, Bodily said she still struggles with his loss.
"I am not the same person," she said. "In my brain, I will always be counting four children. After 10 months, I still hear him giggle, or I see him on his longboard. Some people tell me that is a blessing, but it is a torment, to not be able to touch him or hold him.
Christmas is not the same this year — the family's long-standing traditions have fallen by the wayside and instead, Bodily said she put up a tacky white Christmas tree that had once belonged to her brother.
"I put a star on it, and that's Christmas," she said.
And while there is still anger, she said there is also still joy.
In her own journey, Bodily said she has learned there are few resources available to either the people who struggle or their families, and that is something she wants to see change, but even her desire to help is a challenge.
"I wasn't able to do it for my own son, why could I do it for someone else? But, I am going to try," she said. "I never gave up on my son, and I won't give up on anyone else."
Information from: The Herald Journal, http://www.hjnews.com