Steven died when he was 18, the victim of his own inability to find life worthwhile. He left behind a mother who is still grieving - and very, very angry.

She knew he was in trouble and she tried to get him help. She begged, tears in her eyes, for someone to do something. Each time, she says, experts told her "nothing is wrong.""Who is it that knows when they see changes in their sons or daughters better than a parent or loved one?" she asked.

Steven's mother asked a social worker for help. And at her suggestion, Steven went to an institution that specializes in psychiatric disorders like depression. His parents met with doctors and staff to provide Steven's medical history; they never met again until the young man was discharged.

His parents wanted to hear what was wrong, what they could do to help him want to live. Instead, she said, the doctor looked at the boy and said, "There is nothing mentally or physically wrong with you, Steve." Then, referring to Steven's lifelong wish to be a policeman, his mother says the doctor told the boy: "You would be a rotten policeman, using the uniform to cover your aggression."

In desperation, his mother asked if they could have a brain scan and some tests for a chemical imbalance. She was told no brain scan was needed and there is no test for such an imbalance. She asked for a referral and was told that Steven was too old.

"But he doesn't want to live," she said.

He uses that, the doctor said, as a way to get what he wants.

In the end, they took Steven home.

They visited a private psychiatrist for a second opinion. This doctor wanted to see the first doctor's diagnosis and affirmed it. He gave Steven a lecture: You were 18 when you decided you needed help. So you can make the appointment and pay for it. Not your mother.

On the way home, Steven said, "Mom, I guess I shouldn't have been born."

"Never say that," she cried. "I love you and you have brought me such joys - your soccer games, singing with the madrigals. We have spent a lot of fun times together and there will be more."

"You're right. Everything will be OK," Steven said.

In October, she stayed home from work and they drove around, talking about things he loved, like skiing and his friends.

When they got home, he went out with some friends. And when he came in, later, he stopped at her room and told her he loved her. Then he said goodnight. A few minutes later, he came back in and said it again.

She was worried. So she followed him back to his room. She just wanted to be near him. She wanted him to talk. He told her he'd gone to a movie and a late dinner. When she said he sounded odd, he told her he thought he was getting a cold and was really tired.

In the kitchen, she found empty medicine bottles on the drainboard.

"No, Steven," she screamed.

An ambulance carried him away. He never came home.

She has accepted the death of this young man, once her baby and then her hope for the future. She has gone to grieving sessions. She has learned to live each day, she told me, despite the lingering pain.

What she can't accept is that she tried to get help and never found any. Others have found help for their children, but she couldn't and she doesn't know why. She felt her son's mental pain. But she never found anyone who could relieve it.

He was sick, she said. "Steven didn't sin by taking his life any more than a person who has a broken bone, cancer or any other ailment that affects the body or mind sins when he cannot get help and dies."

We make it sound too easy, she said. Articles, movies, books - they all make it sound like a sharp parent can spot the silent cries for help. Then all this parent has to do is make an appointment and everything will be all right.

And if it fails - if someone you love actually succeeds at suicide - society believes that the people closest to him somehow failed to see the signs. That somehow, they are responsible for this death because they have not done enough. Or they assume that he wasn't thinking clearly because of alcohol or drugs. Steven used neither.

She knows one thing. She did recognize the signs. She heard her son's cry for help and she did her best to respond.

Now she misses him. And she grieves. And she's very, very angry.