Warning signs: Victim’s family looks back at his final days
Days before he hanged himself in the garage of his sister’s (now mother’s) Clifton apartment, 14-year-old Christian Godina walked the halls of The Opportunity Center, where he attended school, announcing to friends he was a “dead man walking.”
He posted on MySpace that he was crushed by the end of a six-month relationship with his girlfriend and he wanted to die. He made two videos on his phone sharing similar sentiments.
His mother, brother and four sisters learned all of this after his death, the day before Thanksgiving 2010. They knew he was upset about the break-up and that he was getting into trouble in school. He also started group counseling at Colorado West Regional Mental Health a month before he died. But his family members say they didn’t realize how close Christian was to killing himself because he hid his feelings well.
Christian’s sister, Talia Anderson, 28, said she and her brother laughed through an episode of “Tosh.O” before she went to sleep, around five hours before she found him dead. She said she knew he was unhappy, but never saw any hints that she would never see him alive again.
“He knew if we knew” his family would stop him, Anderson said. “Probably the thought of us would have prevented him (from completing suicide) so we were blocked out at that point.”
The family wishes now his friends would have told them what Christian was saying and doing, but they don’t blame anyone for his death. Instead, they’ve focused their energy on keeping other families from going through the tragedy of suicide.
“Call us, we can talk to you. You don’t want to do this to your family,” said Anderson, who went through a psychotic episode after finding her brother and, like most of the family, sought counseling.
Sister Katie Anderson, 30, said some people are afraid to talk to people who may be suicidal because they don’t know what to say or who to tell if they learn the person is planning to kill themselves.
“It’s not so much about you even speaking, just be there to listen to what they have to say,” she said.
Nothing has cured the pain of losing Christian, but they have found ways to keep him alive in their lives. They plan to edit family photos to include his face, refusing to leave him out. He will have a seat reserved when Anderson gets married. The family had T-shirts and bracelets made to commemorate their funny, loving brother and son, who loved to draw, write, listen to music and play video games.
Christian’s mother, 53-year-old Tori Godina, said she hopes people learn from Christian’s death to take all threats of suicide seriously. Three years later, she still can’t believe her baby boy is gone.
“I’m still waiting for him to come home,” she said.