Thursday, January 05, 2012

Once again, Wyoming teen suicide in the news

Once again, Wyoming teen suicide is in the news. This time, it's the death of 13-year-old Alex Frye of Cheyenne. His death on New Year's Day is getting plenty of attention in the local media -- and elsewhere. There is much talk about the alleged cause -- bullying at school. The school district seems to be doing its part of bringing up the topic and providing counselors for students and teachers at Alex's school, Carey Junior High. According to last night's Channel 5 newscast, the Cheyenne Police Department is adding a position to address suicide prevention. There's a fine local organization, Grace for 2 Brothers which offers “suicide prevention through awareness and education.”

Still, the beat goes on. Wyoming has among the highest teen suicide stats in the nation. Some of that is due to isolation and rough weather and lack of opportunity. Some of that is due to bullying, although it's unclear how much. It is clear that bullies beget bullies, and until this is addressed, bullying will continue to lead to both the mental and physical scarring of vulnerable youth.

Some of Wyoming’s cluelessness about suicide can be blamed on Wyoming's "cowboy up" mentality, which can be summed up this way: "Cowboy up!" Be tough. Shake it off. Get back on that horse. None of which helps much when it comes to assisting someone in pain.

I refer you to Tom Morton's excellent Casper Star-Tribune column from Oct. 26. He focused on the lethal nature of suicide by gun. Guns are very popular in Wyoming, and a popular (and very final) way to commit suicide. He noted that U.S. suicide stats -- 39th in the world -- are not particularly alarming. But, "if Wyoming's rate of 20.0 suicides per 100,000 population was compared to the worldwide rates, Wyoming would rank about 10th." Read more here

This comes from a 2010 article in the WTE:
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Wyoming youth, said Keith Hotle, a suicide prevention team leader with the Wyoming Department of Health. Only car crashes kill more teens. 
If a new disease was the second-leading cause of death for youth, that would be front page news all over the state," he said. 
But it isn't. Those headlines arrive only with each new suicide by a Wyoming youth. And they appear with great regularity, much to our shame.

Rest in peace, Alex Frye. We will remember you.


Jacqueline Mackey-Dailey said...

This is the most real and direct article I have read concerning the death of dear Alex. We must address the issue of bullying and suicide among our youths Too much pain for a child to handle. Adults knew he was being bullied and yet did nothing. No child should have to endure such demeaning and hurtful abuse. So many articles and news casts have addressed this issue and yet when we are faced to take action to rescue a child , we don't. My heart aches for Alex and the last few minutes of his young life and the thoughts he must have thought. I know his parents and extended family loved him, but don't say, "you don't know why he killed himself" when he feared going to school. We can blame Wyoming's isolation or the harsh weather or the lack of activities for youth, but there is not one reason for the high suicide rate in Wyoming and there is not one solution to the problem. Parents, please talk to your children. Hug and love them so they will not have the need to bully another child or if he/she is being bullied can come to you and say, "help me" and if your child does not have that comfort, take action on your own. This young man's death has really affected me in a very surprising way. I hope his death make others take action and involvement to prevent another tragic death.

Carol Young said...

This article shows that bullying and teen suicide are very serious issues we all have to face. For those coping with the loss of a loved one, I recommend you visit for very helpful coping techniques.

alicia said...

Suicide is a serious matter that a parent can prevent or lessen the possibility of happening. Causes such as depression and bullying are usually looked upon. If you find your teens depressed or being bullied then you should find a way to help them survive the situation. Helping them out on hard times can be one possible way so that they won’t think suicide is an option. You could even get them in consultation sessions so that they can get help in their mental aspect.