Help Bring Suicide Out of the Darkness in Farmington, Hills
A public meeting at Farmington High School tonight offers teen-specific information about depression and suicide.
On the day before Farmington Public Schools parents and students will gather to talk about teen suicide prevention, Farmington Hills Police investigated the community's second murder-suicide, and the seventh completed suicide, of this year.
Police reported that just after midnight on Sunday, a 34-year-old man took his own life, and that of his 22-month-old child, with a shotgun.
This is not a time to say "There's too much to do, I don't have time for another meeting." This is not a time to say, "But he was an adult. That's different."
It's not different. It's suicide. And we all need to come together and bring it out of the darkness, because it's happening at an alarming rate in our community.
“Youth Depression & Suicide: What Every Parent and Teen Should Know” starts at 7 p.m. today in the auditorium at Farmington High School.
In Sunday's tragedy, and in the August deaths of Robert and Lisa Mazzola, authorities said the couples were going through a divorce. But strip away the specifics, and you have people under tremendous stress, perhaps isolated, likely depressed, who see no other alternative.
It can happen to anyone, at any age.
During a Sept. 22 community forum on suicide prevention, Brighton resident Jeff Edwards talked about how it happened to his 12-year-old son. Maybe it's easier to understand how an adult could become so fatally depressed, especially with times as tough as they are for so many people. But a 12-year-old?
“What in the world does a 12-year-old have to be depressed about?” Jeff Edwards asked. “Well, what does a 12-year-old have to be diabetic about?”
Look at Sunday's tragedy through the same lens: Depression is a disease that causes death by suicide. The circumstances surrounding an adult suicide sometimes seem more obvious: alcohol and drug abuse, marital discord, financial difficulties. Even after nearly 11 years, I clearly remember the case of a Farmington Hills father drowning in gambling debt who took his own life and that of his wife and three children.
On Sept. 20, The Oakland Press detailed six murder-suicides completed or attempted in Oakland County during the past 18 months, tied to broken relationships and financial difficulties. Suicide can also seem to come out of the blue, as in the story we brought you on Sept. 7 about Graham Smith. Smith killed himself in Texas in May of this year, just hours after a phone call he made to wish his mother, Katherine Massey, a happy Mother's Day.
All these people were in different circumstances, but all had something in common: They couldn't see light at the end of the tunnel.
Farmington Hills police chief Chuck Nebus said at the Sept. 22 suicide prevention forum that there had been five suicides this year among adults in the community. That was 32 days ago. Now, two more people are gone, and an innocent child's life has been taken.
Certainly, there could have been more of these tragedies. As of the September forum, FHPD had contact with some 36 adults who threatened suicide, 35 who attempted suicide. Ten teens had threatened suicide, and six attempted. I can tell you after looking at police reports every week, there have been more.
Even one is one too many.
Here's what you can do:
- If you or someone you know needs immediate help with suicidal thoughts, go to an emergency room or call 911. Medical professionals and police officers are there to help, don't be afraid or embarrassed to ask them.
- Reach out to Common Ground Mental Health and Crisis Intervention at 800-231-1127 and Samaritan Counseling Center at 248-474-4701 if you're coping with stress, depression, family crises, drug or narcotics abuse and other issues.
- Get involved with the Farmington Area Suicide Awareness Task Force. You can learn more about them on Facebook, and at their meetings, which are listed on our calendar.
- Attend tonight's meeting, “Youth Depression & Suicide: What Every Parent and Teen Should Know”, to learn about the symptoms of depression and how to get – and give – help. Sponsored by the Farmington PTA Council and Farmington Public Schools and hosted by Farmington High School PTSA, the event starts at 7 p.m. in the Farmington High auditorium.
- Learn the the signs and symptoms of depression, at chaseedwardsmemorial.com.