Age nineteen isn't such an easy age

Sawyer Sweeten, 19, lost his life to suicide on April 23.
Age 18 through 20 – those were a pretty tough couple years for me.

I had recently graduated from a Catholic school, where needless to say, I was pretty innocent.

Within six months of graduation, I had my first boyfriend, my first kiss, my first heartbreak, my first drink of alcohol, and my first tattoo. Friends were moving away to go to college, and everything felt like it was changing.

It may not seem like much, but, all of that in such a short time felt overwhelming to me.

My best friend says that, out of everyone she knows, I changed the most since high school. After high school, I felt like I had gone from being a child to being an adult almost overnight.

Sawyer (left) with his siblings Sullivan and Madylin in 2004.

And, for me personally, I was terrified.

I started thinking about where I was at that age because of the suicide of a 19-year-old on Thursday morning, weeks away from his 20th birthday. It made me think about how hard that age was for me. Even though I thankfully never took action, with all these new and overwhelming emotions swirling inside me, the thought definitely crossed my mind – “Maybe it would be easier if I wasn’t alive.”

I wonder if that’s what crossed the mind of former “Everybody Loves Raymond” actor Sawyer Sweeten before he took his life.

I admit when I heard of his death, the first thing I thought was, “He was so young. Was his life even that hard?” And I immediately wanted to slap myself when I thought that.

It’s easy to judge and think,” How could he do this! He was at the precipice of his life. What could have been so bad?” But we weren’t inside of his mind. We don’t know what he was feeling. And I can understand how age 19 can be tough.

Sawyer’s family said he showed no suicidal tendencies. Not everyone who is depressed or considers suicide is obvious about it. You probably know someone right now who is going through this – and you don’t even know it.

So parents, hold your children a little bit closer tonight and tell them you love them. For me, when I was 19, that was when my mom suggested I go to counseling for the first time – and it helped. Tell your children to never be afraid to talk to you if they need help. Tell them you will always be there for them and that you will never judge them.

This is what “Everybody Loves Raymond” co-star Doris Roberts said on Facebook, “It is with great sadness that I learned the news that Sawyer Sweeten, who played my grandson Geoffrey Barone on Everybody Loves Raymond, died at his family's home in Texas”

“Make sure your loved ones know how much you care about them, and please check in with them if you haven't touched base with them for a while. It's very important to keep in touch.”

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