BOSTON (CBS) – Suicide. It’s the third leading cause of death among teenagers in this country and cuts across the social and economic fabric of every single community.

In Part 1 of her series “Cries for Help,” WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Mary Blake looks at the impact teen suicide has had on one Massachusetts community:

Templeton, Massachusetts is a quaint rural community of 8,000 residents, situated roughly 60 miles from Boston. It’s currently celebrating its 250th anniversary.

A gazebo sits on the Templeton Town Common and there is a General Store a stone’s throw away. Charles Carroll is the store owner.

“This was my first job, said Carroll. “I started working here when I was 15 years old and eventually I ended up buying it from the two previous owners. It’s been a great place to work and grow up and so I’ve had a lot of fun.”

On the flip side, there have been several tragic events that have left the town reeling. Several deaths have occurred among the student body at Narragansett Regional High School. Just a few weeks ago, it was a non-fatal suicide attempt.

In the wake of that incident, dozens of parents gathered at the school for a presentation run by Riverside Trauma Center based in Needham. Director Larry Berkowitz led the meeting.

“We want people to know that there is no risk or harm in talking about this,” said Berkowitz. “There is sort of a myth out there that people worry if we talk about suicide, we’re going to plant an idea, plant a seed. There is actually research that shows there is really no danger in talking about it. There’s actually good research that shows when we introduce suicide prevention programs in schools, it doesn’t increase risk, it reduces risk.”

Berkowitz argues that suicide prevention should be dealt with at the same level as substance abuse prevention and safe driving issues. Parents attending the May 9th meeting found that difficult to do.

As he emerged from the meeting, former Templeton Fire Chief Richard Kirby shook his head.

“The last suicide attempt was my neighbor’s daughter. It’s scary, it’s scary, ” said Kirby.

Foreclosure counselor Laurel Miller echoed Kirby. Her daughter is 16 and attends ‘Gansett High.

“She has seen close to five people and one person who is not doing so well right now… ..seen them, ya know, seen this happen,” said Miller. “It’s scary. It’s scary. I think there needs to be some more dialogue on how we as parents and we as the school work together to handle this and make it easier for our kids to cope with these things.”

Dr. Rosalie Weiss is outgoing Superintendent of Schools for the Narragansett Regional School District. She says there is a crisis intervention team in place.

“We’ve chosen to try to address mental health issues, bullying issues and drug issues and these are our three focus points right now,” said Weiss.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free number is 1-800-273-TALK.


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