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Tyler Nichols, 13, Suicide at Southgate Middle School

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This is horrific news out of Detroit today:  13-year-old Tyler Nichols brought a gun to school this morning and shot himself in a school bathroom.  He died later in the day at a nearby hospital.Tyler NicholsObviously, it’s still much too early to know any of the details, or the “whys”, of why he ended his young life.  At this moment, bullying does not appear to be the factor.  What is known at this time is that Tyler secured a legally registered gun from an unidentified relative and brought it into the school today.  Somewhere around 8:00 this morning, he reportedly went to a bathroom on another floor and shot himself.  One of his schoolmates found him lying on the floor and notified school officials.  Soon after, the school was placed on lockdown as police investigated.Davidson-Middle-School-scene-aerials1-jpgAt the hospital, a suicide note was reportedly found somewhere on Tyler’s person.  Few details have been given, at this point, as to the contents of the note.  However, one thing that is being reported is that he did say that he was “…sick of all the drama…” in his life.  Again, only those closest to him will understand what that means, and we won’t speculate.  What’s important is that, for whatever reason, a 13-year-old felt so overwhelmed with whatever “drama” he had going on his life that he saw no way out but to simply end his life.  The enormity of this tragedy hasn’t even set in, yet.  As he was reportedly a very popular and intelligent students, his classmates…and teachers will be forever affected by what happened Thursday morning at Davidson Middle School.  But, it’s his family who will live the rest of their lives with the relentless grief of knowing that Tyler is gone for good.  It’s a pain no parent should ever, ever!, have to go through.

As the gun control debate continues to gather momentum across the country, one question that I’m sure will be raised is why was it so easy for him to get ahold of a loaded gun?  That’s not to point fingers at the relative who owns the gun.  I’m sure they’re beside themselves with grief right now.  Rather, it’s to ask the question:  “when do we start paying attention to gun safety and gun control in this country?”  Just how many lives must be lost to gun violence before we, as a people, finally say “Enough!!!  Something must be done!!!”?Southgate-vigil-1-jpgRallying swiftly to pay their respects to Tyler, the community gathered Thursday evening for a candlelight vigil in his memory.  Hundreds attended.  Undoubtedly, many of them are still trying to come to terms with what happened in their school, in their community, and in their lives today.  It will be a long time before they’re able to sort it all out.  However, unfortunately, right now, as I type this, the speculation machine is already in full-gear on one social media site with the standard cries about bullying.  Bullying is a horrible epidemic that we face today, but not every teen suicide is a result of bullying.  And, from the looks of things, at least here in the early stages, bullying was not a factor in Tyler Nichol’s suicide.

What we cannot lose track of is that Tyler left behind a family that, at this very moment, is stunned by today’s actions, absolutely overwhelmed by indescribable grief and sorrow.  Our focus needs to be on them, as we offer them all of the support, and condolences, we can possibly muster.  They’re going to need it.

What is also very apparent is that we, as a society, need to do a much, much better job at reaching out to these young people.  We’re failing miserably.  Every time I see another name attached to the word “suicide”, I’m reminded that we’re not doing enough to reach them.  We’re failing at making them understand that whatever pain they’re experiencing right now is temporary!  We’re failing at making them realize that their lives are worth living, that things will (honestly!) get better!  We’re failing at keeping them alive long enough to understand that they’re strong enough to make it through whatever it is they’re facing.  And, sadly, as we continue to fail, the number of teen suicides continues to rise.  Enough!

To the family of Tyler Nichols, I send my deepest sympathy.  I can’t even fathom what you’re going through right now.  Rest in peace, Tyler.

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17 Responses

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  1. I did not know Tyler but some of my family attended Davidson Middle School and I have friends who’s children are students there now. I was in attendance at the vigil tonight, there must have been about 400 people there. Reports are that bullying was not a factor in this case. It has been reported that Tyler did mention another student in his letter (not a note, a letter). If he took the time to single out a specific student leads me to believe that some form of bullying must have been in the mix of causes. It makes me sick how many people in this area are blaming the gun for his death. When a child or even an adult decides he/she doesn’t want to live anymore and they don’t have access to a gun they WILL find another way. Instead of placing blame on the method used people need to be concerned with the reason(s) why he felt his life wasn’t worth living anymore. I have no respect for anyone, especially politicians, that try to use the tragedy of a young life/lives lost to further their personal political beliefs. His parents have said that he was suffering from depression so I am certain his doctor had him on some form of anti-depressant. All of which have a side effect of suicidal thoughts. As you said this is not the time for placing blame. We need to extend our thoughts and prayers to Tyler’s family, friends, fellow students, and the staff at Davidson Middle School. We can not imagine the pain they are going through now. I am sure Tyler was looking down from heaven at tonight’s vigil thinking if I had known that many people cared about me i wouldn’t have done it. We must reach out to these children at risk and do whatever it takes to get them to understand it does get better..

    Dave

    March 22, 2013 at 4:54 am

    • ” When a child or even an adult decides he/she doesn’t want to live anymore and they don’t have access to a gun they WILL find another way. ” How do you know this. Is this a fact or your fevered opinion?

      Let’s poll people whose suicides _failed_ because they could not find a gun and took aspirin (all they did was puke) or slit their wrists (they got 1/4/” cut on their arm and the sight of the blood showed the the enormity of their decision. So they stopped. Or what about all the people who go out onto a bridge determined to end it all but seeing how far they will fall and knowing they will be conscious all that way down… Or took sleeping pills and someone found them passed out and called 911? THE POINT IS that easy access to guns makes the chances of a successful suicide attempt much greater than all the other methods mentioned here. Guns are fast. Quick. Efficient. Seems like whatever pain there might be, it’s over in a split second. Pulling a trigger is vastly easier than jumping off a tall building. There are many more steps to other methods that take time, time for the despondent person to realize that suicide is not the answer. You are a victim of gun lobby group think.

      Steve K

      March 22, 2013 at 8:26 am

      • I don’t recall saying that all of the other methods were successful. What i was trying to say is that a person determined to end their life is going to attempt it with whatever means they have. Instead of trying to place blame on the gun, pills, bridge, whatever the method used/attempted we should instead be concerned with the reason(s) why they felt they needed to end their life and try to fix that. After all the important thing is trying to stop a person from ending their life.

        Dave

        March 23, 2013 at 3:43 am

      • Taking a hand full or bottle of aspirin is just as easy. It isn’t a gun’s fault..Quit pushing your agendas.

        Lucy

        March 23, 2013 at 9:32 pm

      • REALLY??? what about the vast numbers who took the pills and were NOT found. Who told you pulling a trigger is EASY? Have you ever held a gun to your head and tried to pull the trigger? My husband did and succeeded… the gun had nothing to do with it. It takes someone who is so lost, in pain and left with no hope to be able to pull a trigger. The gun my husband used had a 9lb. trigger. do you honestly think it would be EASY to pull that trigger against the side of your head????? BTW, I was standing next to him and I COULD NOT SAVE HIM… how dare you!!!

        Dee

        April 21, 2013 at 10:57 pm

    • ” I have no respect for anyone, especially politicians, that try to use the tragedy of a young life/lives lost to further their personal political beliefs.”

      I have personal political beliefs regarding suicide and suicide prevention and part of those ideas are seeing guns themselves as a problem. But you would prefer that I not expound on them, but you can expound on your beliefs when you say a gun was not at fault? Why can’t you respect my right to my opinions? So all politicians (leaders in our country, who have been elected by the voters) who speak out and mention a specific teen suicide only do it to further their personal political beliefs? I don’t know about ALL political leaders, but what is wrong with promoting one’s own political beliefs? It’s called free speech.

      When Obama says that Sandy Hook was his worst day as president, you have some way to know for a fact that he said that [only?] to “further his own personal political beliefs”. Well if his belief is that we need to stop teen suicides, good on him. So all politicians who favor any gun violence prevention or gun control are suspect in your book if they think guns play a factor in gun violence? What about Sandy Hook parents who lost children in that massacre and later testified at the recent Senate hearings and stated the belief that we need to limit easy and/or almost unregulated access to guns? Do you have any respect for them? What about the Congresswoman from New York state who ran for office because her husband was gunned down by a crazy person? Any respect for her or her opinions or her freedom of speech.

      Maybe you can clarify your thought processes in these matters. Guns all by themselves do not kill people. We do agree on that. But, someone has to pick the gun up with his/her hand. Do you see any problem when people, sane or insane, can buy or somehow get a gun more easily than obtaining a drivers license or passport? And the gun show loophole. Maybe we can “follow the money” and see who is defending absolute 2nd amendment rights, no exceptions. That is close to NRA official policy. Why do about 75% of NRA members themselves support universal background checks? Who is getting rich because of guns? Why can AFT agents BY LAW only visit a gun dealer once a year? Why have we not had a director of AFT for something like two years? Dude, follow the money.

      Steve K

      March 22, 2013 at 9:03 am

      • What I was saying is someone that focuses on the way not the reason. I am a firm supporter of the second amendment. Many years ago I canceled my NRA membership because though i agree with some of what they say and/or do I don’t agree with everything. I do not believe it is easier to get a firearm than a drivers license or passport, at least not where I live. In Michigan no matter where you purchase a gun whether it be a store, a gun show, or a private person you must first go to your local police station and obtain a purchase permit that comes in three parts. The purchaser must fill out the remainder of their portion, the seller must fill out their portion before you can take possession of the firearm. You also must go through a background check no matter where/who you get the firearm from. If it is purchased brand new or used from a stor/dealer they perform the background check. if you are purchasing it from a gun show or a private person the police do the background check. Once you have possession of the firearm you have 5 days to present yourself and the firearm at the police station you obtained the purchase permit from. They inspect the firearm and fill out the third portion of the purchase permit containing the serial number and other info about the firearm. They retain the permit for their records of who sold, who bought and the info for the firearm. The firearm is then registered to your name. If you do not present yourself and the firearm to the police station then the police will come to your house to find out if you did or did not purchase the firearm and if so why you didn’t present yourself and the firearm in the time allowed. I do not believe that ATF agents are limited to one visit per year. ATF stands for Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms. They are not limited to one visit per year at a place that sells alcohol and/or tobacco why would they be limited to one per year for firearms. That just doesn’t make any sense. I believe you are a victim of the anti-gun lobby groups. I am also a firm supporter of the first amendment. I have to ask you though what about my first amendment rights? I was not intending to make this a political debate. Again I was saying it should be about the life lost and how to prevent more lives lost.. .

        Dave

        March 23, 2013 at 4:29 am

      • cry baby, everytime, you voice your opinion and someone else voices theirs, they are denying you your opinion. Sounds like the White House all over again.

        Lucy

        March 23, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    • Thank you Dave for leaving such a heart-felt, mature, and appropriate response. <3 This is the time for unity, not for division…. this is a precious young life we had on this earth, that is now gone… nothing can bring him back, and we must focus on the family, the healing, and the love now…. I appreciate your humanity in this post. Thank you. Rest peacefully sweet sweet boy.

      Sheila

      March 22, 2013 at 2:25 pm

      • Yes, thank you Dave! As someone who has attempted suicide, I agree with you completely. I was going to use a knife. I am very grateful that I was stopped. It does get better, if you are considering suicide, GET HELP! Talk to someone! Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You are not alone and SOMEONE DOES CARE! (I may not know you, but I care. The people at the Suicide Prevention Hot-line care or they would not be there to call. GOD cares!) I am being treated for Anxiety and Depression, if you are suffering from depression and your meds do not seem to be working, tell someone, they can be changed. There are better ways to stop the pain than suicide! I pray that GOD comforts and loves on everyone affected by the loss of this or any young person.

        Margaret Mantooth

        March 26, 2013 at 6:27 am

    • ^well said.

      Shawn

      March 22, 2013 at 4:00 pm

  2. Tyler is my cousin’s son. THANK YOU for your kind words. THANK YOU for not speculating or blaming. THANK YOU for compassion. That is what his family needs.

    Melissa Wihowski

    March 22, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    • I can’t put into words how bad our entire family feels about this tragedy. We have grandchildren in the Southgate school system, so we were on pins and needles waiting for a name to be released and cried for the family once it was announced. We do not know Tyler or his family, but sincerely understand your pain, knowing how awful it is to lose someone you love. No parent, no family, should ever have to experience such a loss. Have arrangements been made yet. I will drop off a card at the funeral home when I find out where to send/drop it off. I know it’s an expense that most of us cannot afford without help and hopefully the community will come together to assist his family.

      J. Nicol

      March 22, 2013 at 11:33 pm

    • I am so, so sorry Ms/Mrs. (?) Wihowski, for his family and therefore yours. I hope they find out his reasoning for his passing in due time, and seek appropriate action should it be necessary. He was only 4 years younger then me…May he rest in Peace, and may you and all the family find some somehow in time.

      Beni

      March 23, 2013 at 2:27 am

    • Keeping you in my heart dear Melissa, and all your family…. I have not been able to stop thinking of Tyler, and your family. I work with and walk in a suicide prevention program (AFSP), and through TWLOHA (to write love on her arms); this year, in the memory of his sweet, but short life, I will carry his precious face and name with me on our annual walk, along with others I have known. Absolutely no blame or shame whatsoever should be placed on this dear boy or his family, only love and compassion and understanding. He was an innocent child, pure and loved. I am a mother of six… I can only pray others would understand such a tragedy and only leave things in here filled with love and hope and peace. Please know you are not alone and are very loved. Please try and ignore any negativity or ugliness on here, that is certainly not what your family needs, now or ever….this is a memorial of love for a very cherished life. My strength and peace being sent your way. Holding you all tightly in my arms and prayers. <3

      Sheila

      March 23, 2013 at 4:21 pm

  3. A poignant video tribute created by ninth-grade schoolmate Jake Lobb, 14, has 8,700 views as of Sunday, March 24.

    Though he didn’t know Tyler, he says he put it together “out of respect.” It’s embedded here: http://bit.ly/10BTznt

    Alan

    March 24, 2013 at 8:59 pm

  4. GOD bless you and comfort you! I am so sorry for your loss! We recently lost a sweet 13 year old friend to suicide as well. HUG

    Margaret Mantooth

    March 26, 2013 at 6:14 am


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