We must confront the sad reality of teen suicide

ACHTUNG: This is not a “fair and balanced” article. It is an editorial by the editor.

I was keenly and painfully aware this morning that my decision to post news about a teen suicide would generate a lot of angry responses. I decided to do it anyway.

I have had enough of the long-standing well-meaning but wrong-headed attempts not to do stories about suicides. I maintain that brushing aside reports of this sad epidemic has done nothing to deal effectively with the problem. We collectively as a society have seemed to act as if we don’t talk about this, somehow the problem will be less severe or it will go away.

Not bringing the problem into the public arena has been an abject failure. Teen suicides have been rising in recent years. We must start a conversation among all of us to find ways to reduce the number of horrific reports about this trend.

By Friday morning, reports about the incident were rampant in the community and I’m sure throughout the high school. Turning a blind eye deliberately serves no useful purpose.

It is my deep personal belief that this epidemic of young people taking their own lives is somehow connected to bullying, and it is my firm belief that too many athletes are involved. Take a hard look at New Mexico State University canceling the rest of its basketball season.

I have no clue as to whether this tragedy of last Thursday night was the result of bullying. But I am suspicious.

I cannot seriously think of anything worse than losing a child. But instead of lashing out at someone reporting it, we should expend a great deal of energy in publicly discussing it and coming up with better strategies in recognizing those in trouble and better strategies in combatting bullies.

My condolences to the family of the deceased. Let’s see what we can do as a community to stop this scourge in our midst.


  • I don’t think anyone is saying to “turn a blind eye” but you could at least give the family a little time to
    contact family and give them a chance to grieve. Any decent person can see the humanity in that.

    • There are so many other ways you could have written an article about this tragic event. Your attempt to justify your word vomit is equally as repulsive. Your “suspicion” may or may not be true, maybe nobody will ever know, maybe it’s none of your business. There is a time and place for everything, today wasn’t your time or place Dave. Hang it up. My condolences to everyone.

  • There are other ways to report things other than giving nitty gritty details. I didn’t need to know how it happened or where he was found. Did I need to know the how and where? Absolutely not, it’s not my business at all. When I read an obit from someone I know, of course I am curious, but unless it’s spelled out (he fought valiantly against cancer), I can respect that the family does not want the details public for whatever reason.

    Since this was a CHILD, I believe even more discretion should be given.

    • Of the now more than 55 comments on the two articles about this beloved young man, I think your comment was the best. It’s not the fact that the article was written; it was how it was written. A better headline might have been, “Community Grieves Death of Student” or “WUHS Comes Together to Grieve Loss.”

      The family and friends may always wonder WHY? but the HOW? does not need to be shared. The fact that it happened at all is heartbreaking enough. That said, I don’t think the author meant to sound cold and clinical but factual. I hope everyone can cut him some slack and accept his condolences. “There but for the grace of God go I.”

      Yes, suicide needs to be addressed, and I have no problem with the explanation that we need to do this, even though it’s a tough subject. An article saying something like, “Let’s Talk about the Tragedy of Suicide and How We Can Help” would be well received, though preferably after a week or two has passed. Then this young man wouldn’t be singled out or speculation about bullying applied to him.

      Bullying does play a role, and we all have to do more to stop it, but parents and the school can only do so much. They can’t stop what goes on in social media 24/7. They can’t stop it when they don’t know about it. The same goes for depression, substance abuse, and peer pressure. Parents, teachers, and friends blame themselves for not seeing it, but sometimes there is nothing to see. NO ONE is to blame, and I hope that those who love Ayden know that. May God bless all of those who knew and loved him with many happy memories, and may you all find peace.

      Looking forward to a conversation of what we ALL can do! In the meantime, anyone struggling, please talk to someone, even an anonymous hotline. YOU MATTER.

  • I understand we should talk about teen suicide and mental health but can’t you give the family time to process all this? Wayland High School was AMAZING today on how they handled everything with the students all day!!! They were on top of every need for the students. They showed compassion and patience as the kids processed their emotions. Where’s your compassion? Or you just needed to be the first one to drop the story?

    • As the editor stated, with it being a child it was news. We should, as parents of students at WUS, be informed in a timely manner to better help our own kids cope and provide support. The school was amazing, but what do you think they were discussing with students? Providing support through appropriate counsel but obviously discussing the passing of a friend/classmate. And to personally attack someone by saying they lack “compassion” isn’t very well thought out. Suicide is tragic. But the stigma needs to go away! I lost my nephew on Jan 24, 2022, at the age of 24. We as a community need to address suicide and bullying!

    • You talk about how good the school handled this situation. I can only hope that Band Mom did the same with her child/children to reinforce her love and support. This is a subject that should not be pushed aside and hidden

  • Perhaps it shouldn’t be your decision whether to write such a detailed article about a child before his family is even notified. You think he should just be your pawn because you have a blog and found out some details? This is even worse than the people blasting accident photos on facebook.

    • I keep seeing the accusation that this post was made before the family even knew. How can you possibly believe the family wasn’t the first to be notified. Unless, by family you mean aunts, uncles, in-laws and cousins. I’m sure that in this age of social media the news was far and wide in a matter of minutes

  • The vocabulary you use in “reporting” this tragedy is archaic. You need to read the article a reader posted – it is wise advice. You need to handle this sensitively. Not only for the family and friends of this precious child, but also as an act of prevention of copycat. It has happened in nearby communities – you need to be responsible with your terminology and ensure you are not responsible for that which you are trying to prevent.

    Old ideas of what suicide is and the terminology associated with it are a large part of the problem- not just bullying. Do your part to address that part of the problem, not just bullying. Be responsible with your vocabulary as it has great influence, especially in those whose prefrontal cortex is undeveloped. Be careful. Err on the side of caution, at least for a few days.

    Giving details of the event is also not appropriate at this time. Even if the details are available from other avenues, you don’t have to stoop that low. Be better than that.

  • David,
    You are nothing but an ignorant piece of shit, not only did you post something originally but you then decided to post Some bull shit way of covering your ass. How about you delete both posts or better yet this embarrassing excuse for a small town news service. I hope your more than proud of yourself that you have put more of a burden on a family who doesn’t deserve this. Posting pictures of there child, spreading information that doesn’t need to be public your a shitty excuse for a reporter. Hope someone does a report on you some day

    • Judging from your comments and language it sounds like you are the type of person who may be part of the problem. Are you always trying to belittle and degrade anyone who doesn’t meet your standards?

  • More than what the editor has written was all over the scanners last night. This situation is very sad. Suicide has increased by large numbers post Covid. Wake up people. Look at our world right now. Beating up on the article’s content and name calling. Shame on you guys. Grow up. Our kids need support not division. We can all do better. Let’s go Wayland.

    • Scanners are really just people being nosy into emergency operations. Those radio transmissions are not meant to inform the public; they are relaying important information to the first responders who are responding to an emergency. I’m not saying people can’t or shouldn’t listen in, but don’t confuse that with the local blog blasting every personal detail he can get his hands onto about the tragic death of a child.

      This wasn’t a criminal who got caught breaking a law. It was a child, and it is a family begging for privacy as they are going through hell, even just long enough to allow them to notify family.

      I doubt a teen suicide will be prevented based on this blog writer’s graphic spilling of details over the tragic death of a child. If his aim truly is to prevent more tragedy, perhaps he should reach out to someone who is specifically trained to communicate in these events. Or perhaps his aim is to just inform.

      • This post was not aimed at children. I doubt many under the age of 18 even look at this website. I feel it was aimed directly at the adults who still are “mortified” and shocked by another incident of a young life being ended by suicide. The only way this posting can possibly help prevent another child suicide is if we adults stop trying cover up the fact that these acts are happening. Suicide is not something that is shameful. It is a sign of a problem in our society. Please note that I said CHILD suicide. Remember that the problem of suicide is not limited to teenagers

    • Perhaps he should have written about it before a tragedy if he was this concerned. It is distasteful and poor timing. Wait a week or two. Make sure the author is educated with current language and understandings of the tragic increase before spouting his opinions and doing damage. If you want to be part of the solution, get educated first. If you want to be part of the problem, then support gossip, misuse of social media and electronic communication, and stay in past terminology and understandings, which is what he has chosen. He can’t defend what was wrong in the first place, which was thinking it is his place to be the town crier about personal events. That’s called gossip. Gossip creates division, and if you don’t want division, call out the author.

  • I can understand and agree with the repulsion at the details and desire that there could have been a delay of a day or so at least in reporting this tragedy.

    However, I commend David Young on his intention and premise as explained in this article. This is certainly an intentionally ignored and rampant problem, has been for decades and has regrettably increased in our service members as well for over a decade.

    We definitely have a systemic problem in the way that we treat each other, this is especially present in but not exclusive to men. We learn improperly by example, that to be a “strong” guy you need to be able to rip another to shreds verbally(or more so in written form lately), even if best friends. This is of course under the premise of good fun and humor, the thing is that there is some truth in every joke.

    These “well intended” attacks erode the psyche unconsciously, causing damage to the victim and any bystanders who may relate to, or share traits with the victim. It is also damaging to the individual that is attempting to build themselves up at the expense of the victim(s), including any others who “enjoyed” in the “fun”. They may not realize or understand it at the time, but putting others down(and enjoying in the perpetration) is a habit that destroys an individuals character and is detrimental to the soul. When they “get off” on it, it essentially becomes analogous to a drug addiction.

    We have digressed to a point where a large part of adult society “gets off” at the expense of others. It is no secret that this has been propagated by and is unreasonably present on various social media formats. All one has to do is read any number of comments in this very publication, even the articles related to this horrible tragedy. Anger towards the Publisher/Editor/Author is understandable, if it makes you feel better in the moment to “release the pain” in this way I’d wager Mr Young doesn’t mind sacrificing some “skin” to ease the pain. However long term “holding” of anger towards anyone for an extended time is most definitely detrimental to ones own health. Look to the quote/proverb regarding anger and acid.

    It is systemic, in that our sports and military systems benefit from this induced subconscious anger and hatred towards others. School/athletic officials overlook the victims because it can create “tougher”, “stronger”, and more competitive “winners”. It seems obvious the way this culture can create a meaner warrior with less care and consideration for other humans. Is some “toughening” and “breaking” of the spirit required in our troops? Possibly, although my understanding is that an advanced war-fighter develops psychological skills that far exceed this basic rationale.

    As for our mental health system in its current form. It is tragically inadequate in capacity, method, and attainability for average Americans, this is especially true in Allegan County, and for those with less than significant means. We tend to over-medicate in an effort at subduing emotions, this can push individuals farther into a “hole”. This likely is a causal factor in a number of the violent expressions in our culture. The extreme, erratic, and violent reactions when attempts at regulating dosages go awry are an unacceptable side effect of our pharmaceutical industry. A primary motive appears to be getting the “human resource” back in the “game” as quick as possible, long term impact on the individual be-dammed.

    There is another systemic aspect to American culture that drives our depression epidemic. We tend to pretend and fool ourselves that we are immortal, not ought-right, but in the way that we deny discussing our mortality publicly or even with family and friends. We recoil away from and fear death because we don’t discuss it enough to understand it. So we desire to ignore it, unable to confront our ultimate reckoning. This unhealthy self denial creates a mentality in those that are able to or begin to question life’s end. As far as the “unacceptable thoughts” they have must be abnormal, we are not allowed to “talk this out” in an open, healthy way. This aversion is also evidenced in the comments on these related articles.

    This cultural difference has been laid wide open with the loss of life from COVID. Many other, much older cultures have learned long ago, that it is not only healthy, but necessary to confront, discuss, and most importantly celebrate and even embrace the concept and reality of death. They are doing much better than us in this regard.

    A lot of folks tend to define Karma as something supernatural coming back to give them what they deserve. This is sort of true, but not exactly. It is more appropriately defined as, You Are What You Do, analogous to “you reap what you sow”.

    Well then, we have spread rotten, unbearable, unsustainable seeds across ground that is over-saturated with manure, creating an un-breathable, unproductive environment for those who are not on the implied higher ground.

    I will end with this, HUGS are underrated. They cost nothing, and usually benefit both parties. This may seem outlandish, but a powerful force is amplified when people are physically comforted and accepted in this intimate resonance. If you think someone may be struggling, it likely cannot hurt, unless it is unwelcome or undesired in the moment of course. If you have ripped someone down for the fun of it, I would argue they are owed at least one hug, even if it is a “bro-hug”.
    I dare Y’all to prove me wrong on this “theory”.

    • I am so glad I took the time to read this post all the way to the end. It was well written and covered all the bases.
      It also proves that there is still hope that progress on this matter. Thank you for your time and effort

      • Howdy Pat,
        Appreciate the gratitude, although that is not my aim. My objective with this is Illuminating my understanding of a serious issue that is inappropriately Shaded. Regardless of what we desire or think, a Reckoning of some Degree is likely unavoidable.
        Good Day!

  • Its tragic the young man felt there was an issue or issues going on in his life that were so insurmountable he chose to end his life.

    My question for the folks unhappy with the publisher is when is the correct time to report on an event like this. Is waiting for 3-4 days acceptable? A week? Maybe a month? If the author waited weeks would he be accused of dragging up old wounds not letting families and friends finish grieving?

    Like it or not, it’s considered news and its common practice for reporters and others who call reporters to monitor events with police scanners. It’s not private information.

    While I don’t have children in Wayland Union HS we know by others commenting the school was prepared for an event like this. I don’t have a FaceBook or Twitter account but I suspect there was a lot more information and speculation on those social media platforms that weren’t seen in this online publication.

    My children are grown and according to them, some of their co-workers who have middle school and high school age students say there are things posted on social media about students by other students that is unconscionable. My point being in the age of internet and smart phones today’s students are facing a lot of social pressures from a lot of directions many of us never had to face when we were in high school.

  • Ironic that Mr. Young would bring attention to bullying being an issue of which we as a Wayland community need to be mindful, and many of the replies here are anonymous posters spewing nasty vitriol. Seems to validate his sentiment.

    • Jake,

      You make a good point, and I think we all can be a better example, but I think the people who replied with outrage are coming from a place of deep hurt. This tragedy has affected the whole community, and anger is part of the grieving process.

      Let’s pray we never have to be in their shoes and give them a little grace today.

  • Nice try but you are missing the point here. You could have posted without disclosing the person’s name or personal information. Please do not try to cover your ass by saying you were raising awareness, you could have done that without invading the family’s privacy. Social workers and non-profits raise awareness all the time reguarding the systematic issues in the world without disclosing who they are happening to. You just wanted a story and to create chaos because nothing ever happens in this town. Get over yourself.

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