Suicide is NOT Painless
Story by Kymberly Breckenridge
Illustrated by Tatyana Starikova
In the fall of 2016, three teenage suicides stunned the hallways of Roosevelt High School and put the community through a time of anguish and introspection. These deaths were particularly troubling to many because the students did not seem to fit the image of what society typically deems “suicidal.” As parents, we assure ourselves the terrible things that happen to other children are preventable, and we can take steps to avoid those things. We have memorized a list of what to watch out for in our adolescents that may be early warning signs of trouble: a loss of interest or appetite, feelings of hopelessness or a drop in grades. But what if there are no warning signs? What if our child does not present as the Hollywood picture of a suicidal teen? Could we still offer them the help they need before it’s too late?
A group of teachers going through the grieving process at Roosevelt High School asked the question, “Why are good and happy students killing themselves?” This resulted in Sources of Strength, a fledgling student group of peers ready to offer support at crucial moments. Students were carefully selected for the program and received training for the skills necessary to become peer counselors. Kayla LaMonica, a junior, was one of the lucky few to be selected to participate in this groundbreaking approach of early detection and prevention of adolescent suicide.