This week, a family member sent Tim this link to a Boston Globe article about an ex-Red Sox player who is a "member of the saddest club on earth." John Trautwein's son Will, age 15, took his life last October. He sounds a lot like Josh,...he "had so many friends and he was big and strong and good-looking and popular." And then the haunting words from the dad, "We really don't know." What is left unsaid - the loudest word to parents like us: WHY?
They have started a foundation in his name called the Will To Live Foundation. It is focused on getting "kids, teenagers and young adults involved in the fight against suicide." The family's vision statement ends with this: "Quite simple, this community, your community cannot stand any more empty rooms! Help us help out kids find the Will to Live and prevent teen suicide together!"
I agree with this approach. In fact, my daughter and I have been talking about how best to use the money that has been raised in Josh's fund. We have about $12,000 and while I feel guilty that it has not been deployed as yet, to find the right place has not been easy. For we want Josh's fund to support local, school-based programs that provide awareness, education and prevention of teen suicide and it does not seem like Fairfax County Public Schools has programs of this nature. As I wrote about in a previous post, many kids do not or will not talk to anyone about their problems. This means, they are their own last line of defense. In order to successfully fight the rising trend of teen suicide, we must get in front of the kids.
Because of another tragic suicide in our area, it may be that the Superintendent of Schools, Jack Dale is ready to acknowledge the issue and stand behind programs that would raise awareness of teen depression/suicide. While he attempts to deny that FCPS has a Zero Tolerance Policy in this recent Statement to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, and calls the linking of Josh's and Nick's death to the county's disciplinary processes "unconscionable" (I can't even go there right now), at least he seems ready to tackle what we would like to see - programs that address the mental well-being of our youth. (Update: article about this statement in today's Washington Post.)I am inspired by what Will's parents are doing and agree with their words, "If we save just one life, then Will's (or Josh's) legacy is forever."