Teen suicide on the rise - how can you prevent it?

By Tricia Macke – bio | email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - There is a growing trend in the United States that we don't like to talk about, but if we don't talk about it, we can't do anything to stop it.

Jay Triggs had the world at his fingertips. He was 19 years old, and graduated from Turpin High School in 2007. He was a college student, a popular kid, had girlfriends, a stud on the football field and an 'A' student. He was someone everyone wanted to be around.

"He was a good kid, he was easy to talk to, fun to watch, playing, whatever he got involved in playing he put his all into it," said his mother, Elisia Triggs.

Elisia didn't see the warning signs. After searching for a reason why Jay would kill himself, Elisia looked to hindsight as 20/20. He did get upset easily and lost his temper quickly.

But Elisia never thought her son would commit suicide until the morning of Sept. 19, 2009 and a text message she received on her cell phone.

"'This is where it ends I love you.' Probably about an hour after I got that, my husband called me and said, 'you have to come home,'" Elisia recalled. "And he didn't say he was dead, he didn't want to say that. He said he hurt himself, he hurt himself really bad. And I get here and the street is filled with ambulance, police car, fire truck and there's barely room for me to get in and they won't let me in and they just look and me and they shake their heads. And I screamed, I screamed.

"And I was angry because they wouldn't let me come in and I wanted to know how does he look, what means did he use," she said. "I want to touch him, I want to hold him, when I found out he used the method of hanging, I wanted to take him down. My mind is thinking he's still hanging, he's still hanging there. Maybe I thought there was still life in there and getting him down, I could fix it and that was the day that forever changed my life."

Elisia carried the weight of shame and guilt on top of losing her son. She wondered what people would think about her and her parenting.

"Crazy things come into your mind all the way to birth," she said. "If I would have done that or I punished him way to hard, all sorts of things almost every singe day of his life that he was living, I went through because you're trying to find a reason why."

For Luke Beischel, the question wasn't why, but when. Luke was subjected to bullying when he was in grade school - name calling, humiliation, teasing.

His thoughts of feeling better about himself of making the pain go away led to thoughts of suicide.

"I remember one time in the fifth grade, someone hid my shoes," Luke recalled. "We took off our shoes in art class and the next period we had to go to church and I had no shoes for church because they hid them and I didn't wear shoes. Just mean little things."

Those mean little things added up. Kids got older, words got meaner.@

One night, Luke decided enough was enough.

"I got home, cleaned my room, wrote a note and went to the backyard with a shotgun," he said. "I had the shotgun there in my mouth and it was the first time I was able to slow down and really think about things, I think God shook me and said, 'What the hell are you doing.' Look at your family and how much support they have for you, so I dropped the gun there in the backyard and went inside and called my parents."

His best moment, his moment of clarity, arrived when he was at his worst.

Luke, now a student at Xavier University, talks to other kids about suicide.

The same topic is offered up by the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention, or AFSP.

Talking is the key to surviving.

"Warnings signs include feeling hopeless, trouble sleeping, appetite issues, writing or talking about suicide," said Sarah Danks with AFSP. "Some people don't show any of these signs and it's just the problem in our society that we just don't want to talk about these things. It's uncomfortable for family and friends to discuss it."

According to AFSP, every 15 minutes, someone in the U.S. commits suicide, and suicide is quickly becoming the leading cause of death among teenagers.

"I say if you can give someone hope it's an amazing gift," said Luke. "My parents gave me hope every time they walked in and showed me that they were there by asking a simple question like, 'How was school today?' They asked me that and showed me they were present. They showed me every day that they cared and that they were there for me, that I never had to walk alone."

For Elisia, who was always there for her son, hope is more than just the name on a box filled with memories of Jay. It's now a way of life. She will never understand why, but she gained a new understanding of hope, of finding peace.

For more information, call the AFSP hotline at 800-273-TALK.

Copyright 2010 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.