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Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Teen Suicide Prevention

Last Saturday morning, our next door neighbor committed suicide. As a neighborhood, we are grieving. The young man was 15 years old. 15 years old. So much of life ahead of him and yet he ends it all. A good kid. Into a some trouble, but a very fine young man, polite and always friendly. We watched him grow up.

Three kids, all about the same age, have taken their own lives in our Lakeview School district since February.

I am concerned and to be candid with you burdened to do something about this.

I am going to ask our youth pastor to do some research on teen suicide prevention in our community and if we in Calhoun County have any such work. I am also going to ask him to check into other high schools around the country and see what they are doing.

In a couple of weeks, after we have gathered all the information we can, so that we might give some suggestions as to how we can help solve the problem, I would like to schedule a meeting with Cindy Ruble, our Lakeview district superintendent.

Do you have any information that could help us in our quest to be a part of the solution?

Let me know.....let me know you care....


Jon said...

George, i grieve with you and am so sorry that this issue hit so close to your home. The issue is wide spread across America and it is often said that the kids were "good kids", that no one could see it coming, etc. What some folks would consider the normal platitudes that get spread about during times of tragedy. While it is true that no one can see behind the eyes of these kids and know what they are thinking, it is rare that some warning signs are not our feeble human-ness, we often miss them until looking backward. Working in law enforcement for over two decades has brought the tragedy of teen suicide to me more than I care to recount and each time, it is such a waste of a life. I had a number of resources while we lived in Colorado but haven't developed any since we moved back to Michigan as my population base is all adult veterans...I would be more than glad to look for these resources or to be included in any project that you have in mind.

Let's just remember to keep this family, and the extended Lakeview family, in our thoughts and prayers. May the Lord provide them the comfort and understanding to put all of this in the right perspective; may He also use this as a starting point for healing this issue with our youth.

Words are deadly said...

Unfortunately, I too, am close to this whole situation. No, I didn't know this young man and No I don't attend Lakeview high. However, the way I relate to this whole situation hits a whole lot deeper than anyone cares to think.

I had a very close friend of mine, my best friend infact, once had this probablem. She had some very tough situations going on at her home and some bad things that had happened to her. She told me that she had wanted to end it all. I told her NO! Because even if no one at her home loved her or if no one treated her right. I still am always here for her and that she could always talk to me- no matter what time it was, even at 2am. She now is 17, will be 18 this year and she is still alive. I don't know if thats because I was there for her and talked with her or if it was simply the grace of god that kept her alive. But anyway you put it- My best bud is still here.

I know that for some others that situation may have really touched you and made you think- what would I do if my best friend told me that they wanted to end it all? Well I am here on this Blog as living proof that teens really do need guidence from friends sometimes.

What is it that I am saying? Well, hate to kinda put this bluntly but- I too have had this problem before.

Even AFTER I had helped my best friend get over a huge part of her depression. I have spiraled into the same thing. A few months ago I made this fact known to a couple of friends- who I thought could help. They did, at first I was mad, but in the end I realized why they had done what they did. They cared. Just like I had cared for my friend- only they took it to the next level. I'm still here.

Everybody goes through depression at times- but it's when it goes completely dark and your lost and cant find your way out that really puts the "thought" of suicide in your mind. I still have trouble ever so often with different things that are happening that i dont like and are deppresing. But at least, thanks to the two friends whom I confided in, I DON'T think about ending it anymore.

Sometimes it's hard- I know- and sometimes I still have that big gaping hole that screams "why am i here- what good am I?" But my point here is that with friends surronding you it's hard to even think of actually ending it.

So I Don't.

***Thank you to my two friends- you know who you are."***

Alex Kahn said...

I share in your grief. Nothing weighs on my heart like the suffering or loss of a child. Unfortunatly these types of stories are seemingly common to us all.
Three suicides since February in a single school district the size of Lakeview is clearly, as George indicates, a reason to be alarmed. At the moment I just want to throw out a few observations from my personal expierence and personal readings in hopes they may be helpful to continue the discussion. Please understand these comments are NOT in any way intended to point fingers or place blame but ONLY to generate thoughtful discussion and contemplation that God willing may help to prevent another tragedy:

1. A normal mind will inevitably contemplate suicide at some point as it explores the limits of thought and existance. The difference is made in the decision that is made. Sometimes this contemplation is revisited from time to time. This contemplation in and of itself is not tragic, it is just fact.

2. The decision to commit suicide is made typically when the person feels overwhelmed by surrounding circumstances (mental, physical, or social) to the point of hopelessness.

3. Hopelessnes arrives in these developing minds mostly through the following precursors:

a. Lack of knowledge of God, and lack of familiarity of God. The person then attempts to shoulder the burdens of the universe by themselves spiritually.

b. Lack of strong, consistant, and available family support. I strongly believe that after a wholesome relationship with God, a strong family is the next line of defense. Children need open, honest, frequent, loving, and engaged communication on how to interpert each day's events. Leadership by example is especially critical. The family to which I refer is not only biological family but I believe a strong congregation can provide much of this type of support.

c. Tragic events occurring in the child's life previoulsy. Abuse, neglect (mental or physical), illness, scorn etc.

d. The information age is burrying children in mounds information, most of it garbage, much of it not age appropriate, through music, TV, internet content, games, etc. For this assault to be counteracted, we must be just as intense and dilligent as the negative forces at work that are teaching children paths that lead to hopelessnes.

e. One message that is very pervasive in the overwhelming volume of available "media" and is pertinent to this discussion is the lack of value placed on life. Through excessvily violent games, excessivly violent moives, and our current national stance on abortion, as a society, we are regularly and tragically communicating to our children that life is of little value. Some naturally conclude, their life is worthless too.

I have recently relearned that to be truly effective in business you manage people not groups. Each individual has unique needs, hopes, desires, be a truly effective leader, you must manage individuals first.
In our shared desire to help, I offer this immediate relief. As individuals we are feeble yet strong. Sadly we cannot as individuals save every child for which our hearts bleed, but we can make a difference to the ones that God has placed directly in our paths. Work with the children that are in your life right now. If you believe the points that I have made earlier in this entry, I encourage you to take that negative energy you are likly feeling (grief, shame, anger, remorse) and channel it for the individual children that are directly in your life that need it so badly today.

God bless.

Teresa O. said...

It is so disturbing to hear. This is not another city, another school, it is in "our" own backyard. Lakeview High School has had three suicides this year alone. Have any other local high schools experienced this?

I have heard Lakeview High School says they are prepared to help counsel the kids after these situations occur. However, perhaps you can stress to the superintendent that it is more important to put into place prevention BEFORE this occurs. They have been asked how many times to take part in community rally's that engage and give guidance to youth on the struggles they are going through, i.e., drugs, alcohol, sex, and suicide. It's time these students are given tools to learn how to cope before these strategies occur. Yes, it is important to have counseling in place before and after, but we go to the doctor for our annual physicals as a preventive measure. Do the same for our youth! Thank you for taking up the cause. If I see any research to help, I will pass along.