Thank you for sharing this. I was deeply touched by your willingness to share. My brother, too, committed suicide when he was 17, me 15. We were both raised by the foster care/group home system in various states. We share the same mother, but have different fathers. Both our fathers are Latino. But for whatever reason, my brother "looked" Hispanic and I didn't. I was always treated as a white girl. He bore the name Garcia with much pride and I was given my mothers name of Thorpe (though my father's last name is Ruiz). In my opinion our difference (mostly in looks and how people chose to identify us) led to differences in placements with me always being more likely to placed in foster homes while my brother went to behavioral and mental health institutions, jail, and group homes. In fact, he committed suicide while jailed in an adult facility at the age of 17. I have never forgiven nor will ever forgive the child welfare system or the criminal justice system that created the circumstances around our childhood upbringing and his death.
I almost never share this story. I once had a counselor tell me that people can't handle what I've been through so I shouldn't talk about it. I never listened well to that. Though I don't give all the details, I tell people that I have 4 brothers (2 foster, 2 biological). I tell people he lives in New Mexico (where he is buried) and would be 32.
I've spent the majority of my adult life trying to encourage and empower youth, especially those of color and/or living in poverty. I agree, there needs to be more attention to this. There need to be clear avenues to get family members help before they become a risk to them themselves or others. My and my brother's mother suffers from an untreated mental illness diagnosed shortly before my brother committed suicide. I pray everyday that she would seek treatment. I hope everyday to have wisdom to know how to help her.
Again, thank you.