Ep 499 – Sabrina


Posted June 10th, 2018

Tom sits down with Jordan and Katie to talk about losing their teenage daughter Sabrina to suicide.


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255


Trevor Project (LGBTQ) 1-866-488-7386

Text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200

Utah County Crisis Line: 1-801-691-5433 (LIFE)

University Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) 1-801-583-2500

Unequally yoked podcast: https://www.stitcher.com/podcast/jordan-needles/unequally-yoked


  • gem2477

    If you are depressed and wanting to die, the feeling isn’t going to just last 20 minutes and be helped by a kit.

    • Tom Perry

      Fair enough, but I don’t think Katie was suggesting that having a happiness kit was any sort of a permanent fix to the bigger problem. I believe she was saying that having objects like a happiness kit can help cope through really difficult and unexpected times. Curious, what would you suggest as a better solution?

      • gem2477

        I didn’t think she was saying it was a permanent fix. I think different people will be helped by different things, so I will retract my statement. It may help someone else, even though I think it probably wouldn’t be effective for me personally.

        A solution is pretty tough to come to especially if you literally don’t believe anyone loves you. I think I just needed time to pass so the thing that was upsetting me could be over with. I also think not isolating yourself and spending time with people who treat you right helps, too.

  • Peter Johnston

    First, some caveats (I can’t get Bruce R.’s mispronunciation of that word out of my head): 1. I am sure I’m going to come across as a raging asshole, due to the sensitive topic and my judgmental/projecting take on it, and I’m sorry for that. 2. I have no personal knowledge of the family in question; never met them or anyone near them, and never listened to their podcast. 3. Mental health is complicated, and there’s never a single one-cause/one-effect chain. 4. However offensive my theorizing is, I think it’s important to get it out there, to advance discussion, and mostly to get it off my chest for my own benefit.
    That said: it seems possible that Sabrina killed herself because her parents didn’t want her to grow up. The first thing they tell us about her is her childlike and age-inappropriate enthusiasm for life. The mom reveals that she used Sabrina for entertainment on command. Both mention what seems to be her above-average fixation on sex. Her dad’s happiest memory of her involves her making a fool of herself in public and everyone ridiculing her for it. Her parents loved the childish version of her, and she may have seen that as their unwillingness to see her move on.
    This adds up to an unbearable tension between parental pressure (of which the parents don’t seem to be aware) to stay a child, and internal pressure to grow up. John Dehlin recently said that the worst mental-health cases he sees are the people who feel pressured to be something they aren’t or don’t want to be, so it wouldn’t surprise me if Sabrina’s mental-health issues sprang largely from this tension.

    • Jordan Needles

      Peter, this is Jordan (Sabrina’s dad). What in the actual fuck are you implying? That we somehow stifled our child’s development, which resulted in her suicide? Give me a fucking break. You have NO IDEA what we experienced and your assumptions are audacious at best and completely insulting at worst. You obviously have no idea what it’s like to have a child who fixates on suicide. And you have no idea what the causes are. Your assumptions are similar to people who make assumptions about why someone has left the church.

      I had a family member who left the church and, like you, I made assumptions. I assumed that he wanted to sin and therefore left the church. I assumed there were sins in his past he hadn’t repented of that caused his wanting to leave the church. But the more I talked with him, the more I understood that his reasoning for leaving was based on logic and facts.

      A similar thing can be said for Sabrina. She was in a bad place. We did nothing but nurture her and encourage her to live up to her potential. I’m not going to say more than that because your crass comment deserves no respect. It is insulting and somehow implies that we, Sabrina’s parents who knew her best, did our best to cause her to commit suicide. Before you make such disgusting comments, maybe take a minute to understand the family your are so ignorantly judging.

      • Peter Johnston

        Hi, Jordan. I’m very sorry for your loss, and I’m sorry for the additional pain I’ve caused you. I don’t intend to accuse you of any intentional wrongdoing or anything. I don’t claim to know anything about Sabrina beyond what you said on the podcast. Maybe I shouldn’t have said anything.

  • anonymous

    I will begin this post with a few caveats of my own: In the space of my lifetime I have been directly touched by suicide three times. Two were successful. The third, my own child, was not.

    In the case of my child, I was in the same place Jordan and Katie found themselves. The medical staff at the hospital informed me that my child would either live, or would die. It was simply up to how the overdose affected his body. That was it. No magic potion or remedy. No begging or pleading some unseen entity was going to make a difference. He slipped into a fitful, convulsing coma. And then three days later, he recovered.

    With all respect due an internet commentor, I find the audacity of your armchair assessment of this family personally offensive. To read your comments pinning the reason for this young woman’s suicide is like a knife to the heart of any parent whose children have struggled with issues. Here’s the thing: We, none of us, are perfect parents. We love our kids, we try. And goddammit, sometimes bad things happen anyway.

    Mental health issues are bigger than we are, bigger than our mistakes as parents, and sometimes bigger than the love we have for our precious, beautiful children. And in the case of one of my immediate family members whose suicide was successful, all the love in the world cannot silence the pain inside. Suicide was less about wanting to die and more about needing peace.

    So the next time you choose to leave a comment about the tragic death of a most precious, most loved child, put yourself in the place of the parents. And then thank whatever force of nature you wish that no one has had the opportunity to pronounce such judgments on you.

    Jordan, Katie, and Tom, all the love and respect in the world.

    • Peter Johnston

      This was the kind of response I feared I deserved.
      My first instinct was to take the perspective of the suicidal child, because that’s the only side of the story I have any firsthand experience with.