Families urge prevention of youth suicide
Vigil at Capitol honors those who have died
By Jessi De La Cruz, Lansing State Journal, September
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About 300 people gathered at the Capitol on Sunday to honor
loved ones and to talk about how to stop the growing trend of
The Michigan chapter of the Yellow Ribbon Program hosted a
candlelight vigil with songs, prayers and testimonies to kick
off Youth Suicide Prevention Week.
The fourth annual event is designed to give parents of
children who have committed suicide a chance to get together
to share their experiences and prevent more youth suicides
"(The event) is saying we made it another year and it's not as
bad as last year," said Glenda Everett, director of the state
chapter. "There is no one too young or too old that need not
know this information."
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people 15 to
24 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention. And suicide among adolescents and young adults has
nearly tripled since the early 1950s.
The Yellow Ribbon Program concentrates on telling people how
to recognize and deal with the signs that a young person might
be suicidal, Everett said.
"Ninety-nine percent of people who come to us say they had no
idea (their child was suicidal)," she said. "After the death,
people see the signs."
Marcy Carter of Lansing felt immense guilt after her
12-year-old son committed suicide last year.
"It's hard to imagine as a parent that your child could feel
totally unloved," said Carter, who attended the vigil with her
daughter. "As parents we try to teach our kids that there is
always something to live for."
Finding other parents who have lost a child to suicide helped
Carter begin to heal.
"I didn't feel alone anymore," she said.
Many parents and family members at the vigil wore pins with
pictures of their child or relative who died.
A quilt was presented to the Yellow Ribbon Program filled with
names of people who committed suicide. It will hang in the
Capitol this week.
For many people, the reading of the names of victims at the
candlelight vigil is an important part of the day.
"We all want our kids to be remembered," said Everett, whose
14-year-old son committed suicide in 1996.
Members of several regional chapters of the Yellow Ribbon
Program, such as those in Gaylord and Detroit, attended the
The vigil was a healing experience for Goldeen Wiltfong of
"It fills a void that my son used to," she said. "Yellow
Ribbon is about leaning on others."
Contact Jessi De La Cruz at 377-1063 or
Abrupt changes in personality
Giving away possessions
Neglect of school work and/or personal appearance
Family disruptions: divorce, trauma, losing a loved one
Withdrawal from people/activities they love
Changes in eating/sleeping patterns
Running away from home or skipping school