ronkempmusic

Let's work together against bullying and help bring the teen suicide rate down to zero

Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Tyler Nichols, 13, Suicide at Southgate Middle School

with 18 comments


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.

******************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES!!!******************************

BEFRIENDERS

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

THE TREVOR PROJECT

WORLDWIDE SUICIDE PREVENTION

Advertisements

Hannah Gabriel Myer, 17: Her “Bully” was Depression

with 4 comments


With “bully”, “bullying”, and “bullycide” now a part of our everyday vernacular, it’s easy to lose track of the real fact that bullying isn’t the only driving force behind teen suicide.  Depression, as well as other mental illnesses, also play a large roll in it.  Depression, perhaps, just as much as bullying.  In fact, some say that depression is the leading cause of suicides.

Hannah MyerI received word late last week that 17-year-old Hannah Gabriel Myer ended her life on Wednesday, March 13th after a long battle with depression.  The person with whom I spoke will remain anonymous, but she was a longtime friend of Hannah’s.  The picture she painted of the struggles her friend endured was heartbreaking:

We lived in Colorado Springs Colorado.  She loved to ski and was 6 in our league.  She was a beautiful girl who didn’t like herself.  Her family was very rich, and none of her parents ever paid attention to her.  Her nanny always took care of her. She also had bulimia, but I was the only one who knew.  She used to cut.  She loved her dog so much, and she told me Spencer, the dog, would be the only reason she stayed.  I have Spencer now.

Her parents weren’t around much before she died, so they have asked me a lot. Like, what would she want at her funeral. If she wanted a funeral.  Her favorite song, etc.  She had a 4.0 and was in 3 APs.  She was basically the perfect child but was cracking under pressure and couldn’t tell anyone.  I was the only one who knew, and I’ve told counselors etc.  But, no one did anything.  And, now she’s gone.  She was just so beautiful and should never have died.

This beautiful girl had parents who didn’t know who their daughter was.  I’m sure that, now that she’s gone, they regret having missed out on sharing in on more of her life.  That they can no longer make amends and get to know their lovely daughter is equally as tragic as the suicide, itself.  This beautiful girl had a friend, who was her de facto family, in the true sense of the word, who tried to save her friend but knew in the end that “…whatever I do was never going to be enough.” Hannah Myer2I don’t know which is more frustrating:  the fact that, at least in Hannah’s mind, her parents were too busy with their own lives, or the fact that her friend tried getting her counseling but no one did anything.  Either of the two is bad enough.  Either of the two could be enough, on their own, to lead an already-fragile person over the edge.  Together, they form a lethal combination that proved too much for Hannah Myers to overcome.  Now she’s gone.  Now, her parents are struggling to learn who their daughter was through her friend while coping with the devastation of  losing a child.  This is never easy for anyone.

For as beautiful as Hannah was, I find it haunting to see the level of obvious pain in her eyes.  I wondered if that was just my imagination working after the fact.  I was assured by her friend, however, that the pain I thought I saw was, in fact, very real and very visible to anyone who took the time to notice.  Her response to my question of whether it was my imagination, or was I able to see the pain in her eyes was:  “You can. I saw, but no one else did”.

It’s never easy to write about these teen suicides.  In fact, it gets harder every time.  Like most teen suicides, if not all, this could’ve so easily been avoided.  Hannah Myer didn’t have to die!  Once again, we see an instance where sheer negligence led to the untimely death of a young person. The attempt was made to get her some much-needed therapy and counseling by a trained professional.  Nothing was done.  Again.  And, once again, we’re left wondering what is it going to take to get people – adults!! – to realize that we’ve got a major epidemic on our hands!?  Why are so many young people dying by their own hands with nothing being done about it!?  That is what’s most infuriating!!  It’s almost as if the message that is being sent is that these young lives are expendable.  That’s a tough pill to swallow; however, the redundancy of the situations surrounding far-too-many of these teen suicides makes it easy for one to walk away with that impression.  Certainly, more can be done to prevent them from happening.  Obviously, more needs to be done to prevent them from happening.  As one parent of a recent suicide victim put it:  “…Look at the kids. They’re reaching out to us, and we owe them more than what we’re giving them.”  That, from a parent who lost a teenager to suicide.  We can do more.  We must do much more.

Through this blog, you, Hannah, will never be forgotten.  Though most of the people who will read this never knew you, they will never forget you.  Or, your smile.  Or, the pain in your eyes.  I hope you are now at peace.

******************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES!!!!!!******************************

BEFRIENDERS

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

THE TREVOR PROJECT

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page

Brenden Robert Lumley, 16: Depression, “…the worst bully…” Claims his Life

with 5 comments


Every time I learn about another teen suicide, it wrenches my heart.  Sometimes, I even get overwhelmed writing about them.  And, sometimes, I just cry.  That was the case as I read about Brenden Lumley’s suicide, which occurred on December 9th, read over some of the information, and looked at some of the pictures that his loyal and devoted friends and family are posting on the facebook memorial page that has been set up, by them, in his honor.  Nothing, though, moved me more than a letter Brenden’s mother, Sherry, wrote to the assembled group of friends and family.  She spoke openly and honestly about the wonderful 16 years she was able to spend with her son and how incredible of a young person he was; she spoke of the “bully” that claimed his life; and, she passionately reached out to other young people who may be dealing with depression, as well.  And, she made me cry. Brendan

Thank you everyone for joining this group, in support of the most amazing person that I have ever had the pleasure of knowing….my son….my life….Brenden (Boo) Lumley.  What strikes everyone the most when they think about Brenden is his amazing smile, his laugh and what a great loyal, honest and trustworthy friend he was.  I know he will be missed by so many, and I really feel that he would want me to share a few things with all of you…his family…his friends…and anyone who has been affected by this tragedy.  Most important, Brenden never meant to hurt anyone; he just could not deal with the pain and the rage that tormented him inside.  He did have so many loyal friends, and he had his big brother who always tried to protect him and guide him.  And, of course he always knew that he had me, his mommy, and he knew that I loved him more than life!!  But, where he got stuck was not wanting to bother any of us with his pain, he didn’t want to put that weight on us, even though we tried so many times to encourage him to let us in,  But, he did not want us to hurt the way that he hurt, so he trapped it inside.

Depression robs us all of any peaceful thoughts…it allows u to believe horrible things about yourself and eventually if you allow it to….it will close of any light in your life until we feel so alone that you feel like there is no other choice!!!  That is simply not true at all!!!  It is worse than any other disease because it can only be diagnosed by your heart, and the only cure is for you to be humble enough to accept the help from the ones that love you…which is very hard for some people to do.  Brenden thought it was impossible.  Depression is the worst bully and one that we cannot just lock up in jail and throw away the key!!!

Please know from me personally some of the pain and effects of suicide.  Brenden left behind a brother who feels like he couldn’t protect him, a step brother who feels lost without him.  Two sisters that are scared to walk freely in our home because of the terror that we all still feel from what we witnessed that night!!  A mommy and dad that feels so much guilt, so much loss, broken hearts and the most unimaginable pain every moment of every day!!  We are frozen in time, and our world will NEVER be the same!!  It will take years for us to rebuild this home again and to fill it with peace, happiness and love again!  Please honour Brenden’s name and stand up against depression, please talk to the people who love you…believe me…you are not alone even…but depression will tell you otherwise!  I promise right now that if anyone ever feels alone, I WILL be your friend.  I CAN help you.  I WANT to help you.  I WILL find someone to help you!  Brenden would not want any other family to go through this pain and what we have been through.  Don’t be scared…don’t be too proud…seek out the ones that love you, they want to help you….and if you really don’t think you can find anyone…I AM HERE.  I was here for my Boo, but he could not take my hand.  Please don’t make that same mistake.

Thank you all again for your love and support.

Sherry Ayres….mommy of Brenden (Boo) Lumley and siblings…..suicide survivor…friendBrendan-Lumley-213x300

With bullying and the terrible effects it’s having in school and online today, there’s a tendency to overlook the fact that not all teen suicides are a result of bullying.  Although there are no “official” statistics, due in part to the fact that bully-related suicides are enormously downplayed, depression plays a major role in many, if not the majority, of teen suicides.  It was depression that claimed Jamie Hubley’s life.  It was depression that claimed EricJames Borges’ life.  It was depression that claimed Brenden Lumley’s life.  There are more…many, many more.

Brenden was surrounded by an overwhelming amount of love and support.  The depression lied to him an convinced him otherwise.  That’s a common trait with that disease.  I was told by one of Jamie Hubley’s family members that he, too, was completely surrounded by lots of love and support.  I know that to be true.  Like Brenden, he couldn’t see it.  The depression wouldn’t allow him to.

It’s time that we, as a people, remove the stigmatism of mental illnesses, depression in particular.  As we’re seeing over and over, depression can be deadly.  If we’re truly concerned about changing this climate of young people feeling so alone and hopeless that they fell ending their lives is the only way out, it’s imperative that we begin to put into place mechanisms for them to better deal with their depression.  Whatever it takes.  Whatever will spare another family from having to go through what Brenden’s is going through right now.

Rest in peace, Brenden.  You were loved, and are missed, by many.faces of Brendan

***IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW ARE STRUGGLING WITH DEPRESSION, TALK TO SOMEONE!!!***

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

BEFRIENDERS

FIND OUT IF YOU SUFFER FROM DEPRESSION(then seek help!)

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH: the blog page

For World AIDS Day, A Troubling Report

leave a comment »


I heard this report yesterday on the all-news radio station in my area, and it caught my attention.  With World AIDS Day coming up on December 1st, some sobering statistics were announced that I think we need to take heed to.  The first thing that grabbed my attention was this:

“More than half of young people infected with HIV/AIDS in the U.S. DON’T know they’re infected.”

Young people, between 13-24, account for more than 1/4 of all new infections.  If there are 50,000 new infections per year, which is what they’re reporting, that means that roughly 12,500 of those new cases are young males between the ages of 13-24.  That’s not a good statistic.  That means that we’re failing in educating young people on HIV/AIDS prevention.  How can that even be possible with a disease that has been around since the early 1980s?

According to Julie Steenhuysen, Health and Science Correspondent for Reuters, that figure of 1/4 being young males stems from high infection rates amongst LGBT young people, African-American, and, Latino males.  What makes this problematic is that a lot of these young people report that they “Haven’t really learned much about how to protect [themselves] against infection.”  And, again, the question, “how is this even possible?”, comes into play.

And, of course, there are some who report being subjected to a lot of shame because of their sexuality and the stigma attached to being LGBT.  Now, the picture becomes a bit clearer.  Shame and stigma.  That goes back to a huge cultural problem we’re facing in today’s society as it pertains to the LGBT community.  This is the year 2012.  There is no way we should still be dealing with prejudices and bigotry when it comes to something as intrinsic to our being as our sexuality.  Worse, here’s more evidence of the life-threatening harm that it’s causing.

When asked what she thought needed to be done to reverse this trend, Julie Steenhuysen added this:

Communicating to the community how important it is to support young people, no matter where they are [with their sexuality] so that they can at least stay safe. That could mean…to train leaders who are not LGBT, perhaps in the faith community and entertainers to be more sensitive to stigma, and help establish a healthy environment for these young men in which to grow and to learn about their own sexuality.

I was a young, gay man when the HIV/AIDS epidemic exploded on the scene back in the early 1980s.  Worse, I lived in San Francisco during that time.  “Worse” because a.) I literally watched a least one friend die from this epidemic on a daily basis; and, b.) it was easily the most frightening time of my life.  Being a young, virile gay man, myself, at the time, of course I was sexually active as I searched for my Mr. Right.  And, at one point, I even resigned myself to the “reality” of “well, if all of my friends are infected, I must obviously be infected as well.”  By the grace of God, that was not the case.  And, once I got myself tested and learned that I’d been spared of this devastating disease, I changed everything about how I lived my life.  I educated myself.  Educating oneself was very easy then, pre-Internet days; it’s much easier today because of the Internet.  And, education is 100% effective.

Gone are the days when we can feel invincible and just do everything, sexually, we want to do.  That half of these young people didn’t even know they were infected is all the proof you need.  The only foolproof way of avoiding infection is protection.  Yes, I know that there will be fundamentalists who will argue that abstinence is the only true foolproof way of avoiding infection.  But, perhaps, being more in tune with the reality that these young people are going to have sex, protection is key.  Education has to be a key component in protecting oneself from contracting HIV/AIDS.  It’s that simple.  It’s 2012.  There’s no way there should be anyone, anyone!, who doesn’t have access to all of the education necessary to prevent numbers like this report reveals from happening.

December 1st, as we remember those who have already died from this epidemic, we must also re-energize our efforts to prevent it from continuing to spread.  That’s going to take acceptance.  That’s going to take communication.  That’s going to take education.

Listen to the interview

Join us on facebook

 

The Mallory Owens Story: Surprising Developments

with 17 comments


One of the major stories around the social media globe over the past 24 hours has been the savage beating of Mallory Owens on Thanksgiving Day at the hands of her girlfriend’s 18-year-old brother, Travis Hawkins, Jr.  As the world called for his head on a silver platter, subplots began to emerge:Mallory is now out of the hospital and recuperating, as seen here, with her girlfriend and other members of her family, sans Travis, of course.  There’s more to it than just that, though.  Naturally.  Mallory, herself, has stated publicly that she doesn’t believe that Travis’ actions on Thanksgiving, the assault that left her hospitalized and bleeding from the brain, was a hate crime.  That, despite an earlier comment that Travis never liked either Mallory or, his own sister, Ally.

As more light is shed on this unfortunate situation, one thing that is emerging is that Travis Hawkins, Jr. is a very troubled young man.  His troubled didn’t just start on Thanksgiving Day.  A read through the comment thread of the above picture of Mallory’s return from the hospital will reveal an angry public grilling Travis Hawkins, Sr., the father of the attacker, with questions about the incident and why more wasn’t done to prevent it.  In truth, the senior Travis Hawkins did an admirable job of fielding the questions presented to him.  In fact, some would say that he went “above and beyond” in his effort to dispel some of the rumors and/or misinformation that has been circulating surrounding the attack.  Indeed, his response shines a whole different light on the situation.

In an amazing show of concern and compassion, it appears that donors from around the globe rose to the occasion and sent in excess of $100,000 to Mallory for what amounts to a “hate crime” defense fund.  With the hate crime element seemingly moot, according to Mallory, herself, that will possibly raise another question:  “what to do with the monies that were sent specifically to defend a “hate crime”.  However, that’s for Mallory and the donors to figure out and shouldn’t be open to discussion or speculation here.

What is crystal clear is that Travis Jr. is a very troubled young man.  On his now deleted facebook page, he showed off a tattoo on his arm that simply said “Condemned Man”.  The comment thread, now deleted, revealed a mother’s desperate attempt to convince her troubled son that he was not a “condemned man”.  That was before Thanksgiving Day’s attack on Mallory Owens.  Now, he will be, indeed, a condemned man.  Even with a second-degree assault charge, for which he is currently out on bail, he’s looking at substantial incarceration time.  Travis will certainly be punished for his actions, but is that where it ends?  This is obviously a young man, still a teenager, who is clearly in need of help.  Sadly, without intense psychological help while incarcerated, an already angry young man will someday be released, after years of being incarcerated, even more angry and, possibly, volatile.  A ticking time bomb.  Is that what we want?  Is that in anyone’s best interest?  What he did Thanksgiving Day was horrendous, no doubt about it.  And, there has to be payment for his actions, of course.  However, he’s only 18.  He will be released at some point in his life.  And, without help while he’s away, the man who returns to society could very well return as more of a danger than he is right now.  That will serve no one.

As for Mallory, the road to recovery has begun.  In the above photo, she appears to be happy and in good spirits.  However, it is said that she will require plastic surgery in the aftermath of the beating she absorbed at the hands of Travis Hawkins, Jr.  It goes without saying that there is still much to be revealed about this unfortunate event.  In the coming days, weeks, and months, I’m sure we’ll learn more about why Travis viciously attacked Mallory.  In the meantime, let’s just be happy with the fact that the recovery process has begun.  If Travis Sr. hadn’t intervened when he did, one shudders to think of what the outcome would’ve been.

 

More of Jordan Halmich: A Word from a Parent

with 3 comments


We all know by now that bullying has played a role, big and small, in many teen suicides.  You’ve read about some of them here.  If you’ve been a regular follower of this blog, or if you’re a member of the facebook blog page, you’ve also read many times where I’ve said that “…not all teens who commit suicide are LGBT teens, and not all teen suicides are in response to being bullied”.  Over the past year, I’ve watched, both on some of my own blog posts and on other articles, as well, as people would a.) read about another teen suicide and instantly respond “Bullying has to end!!” and/or b.) make a statement that goes like this:  “it’s a shame that these teens are killing themselves for being bullied just because they’re gay.”

NOT EVERY TEEN WHO COMMITS SUICIDE IS LGBT; NOT EVERY TEEN WHO COMMITS SUICIDE WAS BULLIED; EVERY SINGLE TEEN SUICIDE IS TRAGIC!  

The mother of Jordan Halmich, one of the three teens who committed suicide in a seven-week period, left a comment on the blog that prompted me to respond to her via email as opposed to simply replying to the comment:

I am the mother of Jordan Halmich, and just to make this all clear, Jordan was not bullied  He didn’t take his own life because of being bullied.  He had been depressed.  He came to me. and I took him the assistant principal and called in the alt ED counselor and had them evaluate him.  At that point, he was given a therapist, which he was seeing as well as had the assistant principal and alt ED teacher whom he trusted.  He talked with Jordan, and I talked as well.  His problem was not being ignored.  I was so upset to see all this published and people just jumping on the bandwagon of what people were saying, that the three suicides were caused from bullying.  Well, I am here to tell you get off that bandwagon and get the story straight:  Jordan Halmich, 16, of St. Clair, took his own life on Sept. 28 due to severe depression that his family and many others were trying to help him with and that we don’t know and never will know the true state of where his mind was that dreadful day that he saw no other way to end his depression that day than to take his own life.   As a parent, to face life everyday without him here, and for his father, his brothers, his other family, and many friends, is the most empty, hurtful feeling to go through in life, so seeing all this online reporting of non-truth about Jordan is hurtful and all the pictures, comments that they dug up and found just goes to show that social media is out of control.  Nothing is private anymore, and that is where the problem truly lies this day and age.

I don’t agree with bullying, and I am not saying it isn’t a problem and that, if it is happening, that it doesn’t need to be addressed or dealt with.  It does.  I always taught my kids that “no one is better than you”, not to ever let anyone make you feel that way and, by all means, you stand up for yourself and don’t let anyone treat you as if you don’t matter.  My kids didn’t let that happen and still don’t.  Jordan was only 5ft 3in and would stand up to someone 6ft tall without fear.  So, believe me, he was not bullied.  I, as a parent, would not let someone bully my children for more than 1 day without me taking care of it, anyway I could, to make it stop.  If we don’t fight for our children, then who will?  It’s our job to love and protect our children, and I take that very seriously.In the blog post, itself, I specified that “It is alleged that he’d been bullied.”  Now, we know for sure that he wasn’t

Last year’s suicide death of Jamie Hubley was similar in that people were, and still are, beating the “bully drum” when, in fact, it wasn’t bullying at all.  The role that bullying played in Jamie’s suicide was miniscule in comparison to the level of depression he was locked in to.  Had he been bullied?  There were a couple of instances.  But, it wasn’t why he ended his life.  Same is true with Jordan Halmich.  Was he bullied?  His mother says a definitive and emphatic “no”.  Jordan suffered from a deep depression that, much like Jamie, no one could save him from despite the efforts of his loved ones.

Following Jamie Hubley’s suicide, I had the honor of meeting several of members of his family.  As was the case with Jordan’s family, they were keenly aware that Jamie wasn’t dealing with severe depression, and they were doing everything humanly possible to help him see his way through it.  What Jordan’s mother said to me was almost identical, nearly verbatim!, to what one of Jamie’s family members told me about his suicide last year:

I just want people to know he was not bullied and I did not turn a blind eye to him or his depression. I was on top of it and got him help from staff, therapists, doctors, his family and friends.  He was not alone.  We were all here and trying to help.  He was an energetic, fun, had a huge heart and was loved by many.  His smile and outgoing attitude made him several friends, and that is way I want him remembered. I don’t want anyone thinking I am, or anyone else is, trying to point fingers and place blame for what he did, and I definitely don’t want it being believed that he was bullied when he wasn’t.

That’s a simple and reasonable request.  Teen suicide is tragic, regardless of the reasoning behind it.  Sure, the pain and even anger are both magnified when bullying is involved; however, the fact of the matter is not every teen suicide is the result of bullying.  In our hard-fought efforts to get both the bullying epidemic and explosion of teen suicides under control, it’s important to the families of those lost to suicide to understand that simple fact.

******************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES******************************

UNDERSTANDING TEEN DEPRESSION

SUICIDE PREVENTION TOOLKIT (pdf)

SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE

BEFRIENDERS

 

Jordan E. Shaffer, 15, Death by Suicide

with 7 comments


His best friend contacted me, via a comment on the blog post about the teen suicide cluster last month on the other side of Pennsylvania:

October 15, my best friend, I had just heard he had [committed suicide] [because of] one of the kids at my school bullying him.  I have known him for eleven years, and now he is gone.Jordan Shaffer, 15, of Meadville, PA, ended his life Sunday, October 14th.  It was a case that seems to have involved some bullying; however, bullying does not seem to be what led to break point.  In fact, in a post on one of the memorial pages already set up in Jordan’s name on facebook, his mother clearly stated that it wasn’t because of bullying.

I realize there are many rumors floating around there about various things concerning Jordan’s death.  To my knowledge, he was NOT a victim of bullying.  PLEASE STOP SPREADING RUMORS!!!  What Jordan did was DUMB.  I do NOT blame anyone for what happened.

How do we go about making these young people understand that, regardless of what they’re going through at the moment, no matter how bleak things seem to be or how overwhelmed they may feel at the moment, nothing is worth ending their lives? What is it that we’re missing in our quest to convey to them that, given time, their lives will get better?  Like everyone before him, Jordan’s friends characterized him as someone they’d never expect to end their life.  Outwardly happy.  Obviously, though, inwardly, there had to be a lot of inner turmoil.

There has to be a way to keep these young people alive long enough to realize that they haven’t even reached the prime of their lives, yet!  There has to be something we can do and/or say to make them understand that no matter what they’re going through at the moment, it isn’t so severe that they should end their lives.  Before we can get to that point, however, we must come to the point where we can see life through their eyes as opposed to life through our own “teenaged” eyes.  They’re two completely separate worlds.

For many, teen years are some of the most difficult in life. Our bodies go through changes; relationships become complex; we begin to learn social roles; and more than ever we’re expected to grow up earlier. These changes and demands may leave a teenager feeling helpless, confused and pessimistic about the future.
Sometimes problematic circumstances, such as divorce, substance abuse, domestic violence or sexual abuse, complicate and worsen these “growing pains.” Dealing with adolescence is difficult enough by itself. When other such problems are added into the mix, life can seem unbearable to the teenager, resulting in feelings of depression, destructive behavior or even suicide. (ref: Understanding Teen Suicide)

There are many things we experience as teenagers.  A broad spectrum of emotions.  That holds true today more than ever as today’s youth are exposed to so much more than the generations before them could ever imagine.  The heightened level of teen suicides speaks to that.  Yet, in hindsight, I’m sure it’s not much of a stretch at all to say that there were warning signs of imminent danger.  Unfortunately, most of us aren’t too well-versed in knowing the warning signs:

  • pulling away from friends or family and losing desire to go out
  • trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • major changes in appearance (for example, if a normally neat person looks very sloppy – as if they’re not taking the usual care of themselves )
  • talk about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
  • talk about suicide
  • talk about death
  • talk about “going away”
  • self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or driving too fast, for example)
  • no desire to take part in favorite things or activities
  • the giving away of favorite possessions (like offering to give away a favorite piece of jewelry, for example) suddenly very happy and cheerful moods after being depressed or sad for a long time (this may mean that a person has decided to attempt suicide and feels relieved to have found a “solution”)  (ref: Warning Signs of Teen Suicide – What to Look For)


Jordan Shaffer leaves behind a grieving family and at least one devastated friend who contacted me the day Jordan’s life ended to let me know that his best friend “…for the past 11 years” was now gone for good.  And, that nothing would ever be the same.  No, it won’t.  Hopefully, now you’ve found peace, Jordan.  And, to you, his family and friends, may you, too, find peace.

********************************SUICIDE PREVENTION RESOURCES********************************
Suicide Prevention Lifeline
The Trevor Project
Suicide Prevention
Enough is Enough: the blog page