Suicide prevention expert Jeff Edwards will speak to the community about teen suicide causes and myths during a free presentation Tuesday evening at Berkley High School.
Edwards, who is chairman of the Detroit/Ann Arbor chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, has spoken on the issue throughout the state since his 12-year-old son Chase took his own life in 2003 after suffering from undiagnosed depression. In 2006, Michigan passed the Chase Edwards law (see attached PDF) that encourages public schools to conduct suicide prevention programs.
[Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) for free, confidential counseling 24/7 if you or someone you know is in need of help!]
Edwards told Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch in 2011 that he advises kids: "Never, never, never give up. You are more loved than you could ever imagine, and you are more valuable than you could ever imagine."
He also encourages them to look beyond the stereotypes and stigmas of suicide and mental illness, by showing them pictures of a happy, smiling, carefree young boy – his son.
"He doesn't look like a kid who would take his own life," Edwards said. "When you look at me, I'm a dad with a broken heart. I'm a dad with a Chase-sized hole inside of me ... Do I look like the parent of a suicide victim?"
The BHS community also is reeling after a student took his own life in October, prompting concerned youngsters to launch social media campaigns to help take care of each other including a memorial page on Facebook and an account where students can give each other anonymous compliments on Twitter.
There were 38,364 suicide deaths reported in the United States in 2010 according to the latest data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.
Risk factors for teen suicide include the following, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
- Psychiatric disorders
- Past history of attempted suicide
- Genetic predisposition
- Low concentrations of key neurotransmitters
- Male gender
Jeff Edwards' presentation Tuesday will be held at 6:30 p.m. in the BHS auditorium; Edwards will speak with BHS staff earlier in the day.
Farmington-Farmington Hills Patch editor Joni Hubred-Golden contributed to this article.