Tyler Nichols, 13, Suicide at Southgate Middle School
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.Obviously, 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.At 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!!!”?Rallying 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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