October 2014, 17-Year old high school senior, Billy Watts, Jr.’s documented his life and death on social media. After months of battling depression, Billy’s vibrant life ended as he shared many photos via Instagram leading up to his death.
I didn’t know Billy personally, but when I was alerted to view his social media timeline before his death, I felt immediately connected to him. I felt as if he were my child, I felt a pain that was unbearable which lead me to write a blog post about Billy’s death. After the blog was posted, Billy’s family reached out to ask me to speak at his funeral, and I was honored to do so. Many of Billy’s friends felt a sense of guilt as they “liked” the photos preceding his death, without understanding that he was crying out for help and many adults felt helpless as they attempted to navigate the world of social media so passionately used by teens. The intent of my message at his home going was to connect with the students and adults in the church to foster a spirit of self-forgiveness, unconditional love, uplift the village, and ultimately celebrate Billy’s life.
Please take a moment to read my blog post from 2014 as my offering to Billy, his family, and all of our babies. I offer this blog in honor of Billy and share some tips with parents and teens on things you can do to save the next life. The post can be viewed at http://bit.ly/1FZDw78.
To further honor Billy and his love for music, The Billy Watts Jr. Memorial Scholarship will be awarded to a high school senior attending Detroit Renaissance High School. If you know of a senior at the school, please feel free to pass along the information and have them apply at the school’s counseling office. We are also having scholarship afterwork fundraiser on May 19th in Downtown Detroit. Please see https://billywattsjrscholarship.eventbrite.com for more information.
I think about Billy often…..He will never be forgotten. His story must be shared as it could be the catalyst for saving a life. So, today I celebrate his life and will strive to make a difference.