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We Can & Must Do More On The Suicide Front

April 15th, 2014 by jake · 4 Comments

This is personal. If you don’t like it, that’s on you. That’s your bullshit to process. Getting nasty, as some weirdly jealous (?) folks in the Louisville media circle often do, only serves to make things worse. So really — if you don’t like to discuss matters like this in a personal way, it’s time to screw off.

Jefferson County Public Schools can and MUST do more to curb youth suicide. Hiding from reality and denial only exacerbates the problem.

From Toni Konz:

JCPS suspends Twitter, YouTube after suicide

Officials with Jefferson County Public Schools have suspended district network access to Twitter and YouTube after a Louisville Male High School student posted a suicide note on YouTube and then killed herself Monday.

-SNIP-

“Currently, we have taken down access to YouTube and Twitter, as we felt it was best for our students given the situation so the students who are not emotionally attached are not distracted by the video and the students who are grieving can get the help that they need,” Simpson said. “We are trying to support our students in any way that we can.”

-SNIP-

Simpson said the district is also working with law enforcement officials to have the video taken down.

Really — hiding this from students only makes matters worse. Removing it? That’s some serious denial.

As someone who dealt with suicide as a young person and who sees rampant youth suicide in his community, I believe enough is enough.

Instead of blocking discussion on social media, let students focus on this openly.

Instead of hiding the video, SHOW IT TO EVERY STUDENT!

Removing it from YouTube?! What?! WHY hide this reality? Why hide this girl’s very real pain? Scrubbing the record of what she went through is as bad as the suicide itself. Rewriting history is, just like suicide, a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

This has to be discussed. It has to be relatable. It has to be honest and transparent.

Beyond JCPS, people like Toni Konz also have a duty to really dig into youth suicide for their readership. Any time youth suicide is mentioned? It should be a no-brainer that helpful resources are included. When people like Konz tweet their stories about youth suicide to their huge youth audience, they should include those same resources. Every time. (No, that’s not an attack. Just an example. Because she’s actually tweeted resources AND updated her story.)

When television stations like WHAS11 put people like Claudia Coffey on-air to hype up a potential suicide attempt as a young man is preparing to jump from a downtown parking garage, it is imperative that they don’t turn it into a disgusting spectacle. (That’s an attack, WHAS11 was reckless) It is just plain common sense that resources, help numbers, charities, organizations, web addresses be shared with viewership.

This is sickening. From trying to hide from what happens to hyping it up as media loves to do.

Do you have kids? Talk to them openly about suicide. Lend an ear. Don’t judge them. Help them.

Are you a teacher? Make sure your students know you can and will help them in any way possible. If you can offer resources in your classroom and don’t already do so? Remedy that this week.

Are you Donna Hargens? Then get your priorities in check. Make this a bigger deal than it’s been with your staff. Don’t you dare try to run from this. It’s not your fault but you damn well better treat it like it is. You have to set the right example and I KNOW you are capable and want to set that example. You have people just 20 feet from your office ready and waiting to help you. So do it. And the next time you have your staff yell at a journalist for trying to do the right thing? Or for running a story? Get ready for the public onslaught.

Are you the girl’s (name removed not by request but out of our own concern) parents? Leave the video on YouTube in order to help other kids. Use it as a tool to speak out. Use her life to help everyone else. There are kids who need her and who need you to introduce her and her plight.

Louisville is better than this.

— DO YOU NEED HELP? —

Contact the Kentucky Suicide Prevention Group (800) 273-TALK (8255)

Seven Counties Services, as the C-J suggests, offers help: (502) 589-4313 or 1-800-221-0446 Deaf and Hard of Hearing Call via KY Relay @ 711

Know a gay kid who is struggling? The Trevor Project is a great resource.

UPDATE: JCPS says it has restored access to Twitter and YouTube. Toni Konz says that’s not the case at all schools.

UPDATE 2: Why on earth would a JCPS official pressure us to remove this story? Do these people have no sense? Unbelievable.

Tags: Bad Behavior · JCPS · Media · Youth

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Cavemouse // Apr 15, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    People get so scared of suicide and treat it like it is contagious. I am the child of a parent that committed suicide when I was 4 years old. I was never told what happened and found out by accident at age 16. Amazingly enough, my family STILL refused to talk about it, leaving me with unanswered questions and emotions that colored all my relationships. I actually considered suicide myself several times, but did not go through with it. Only after counseling and years of looking for my purpose did I find peace. Please DO NOT stop shining a light on this, it only keeps others in the dark. The darkness is what allows those in despair to feel alone.

  • 2 LyNette // Apr 15, 2014 at 3:18 pm

    What is the name of the video. I want to show my daughter. I dont want my children blind about this. Her video WILL save some lives so I AGREE to leave it online.

  • 3 Lynn // Apr 18, 2014 at 1:29 am

    Leave the video other kids need to see this is NOT
    THE ANSWER! Parents should watch it with their
    Teen cry together, talk together at the senselessness of a beautiful girl who struggled
    And thought there was no other way. My heart felt
    Sympathies to her family. My daughters friend committed suicide nearly 3 years ago it terrifies me
    That children think this is an easy option. Parents for gods sake lock medications away safely. Watch for signs of any suicidal behavior. If you don’t know what they are turn off the TV Google it and find out today!

  • 4 jake // Apr 18, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Dear Amy Harned: You should probably stop trying to post hateful comments from your work computer. And probably shouldn’t send ridiculous emails to me. Because I’ll call your ignorant ass out.

    When anyone thinks they have the right to tell me how I have no place discussing suicide? Uh… I’ll shove it right back down your throat.

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