Kendallville, Ind. (WANE) — During the month of October, four Fort Wayne-area teens died by suicide.
On Oct. 2, a 13-year-old from Columbia City took his own life. On Oct. 21, a 17-year-old from Lagrange killed himself. The next day, an 18-year-old ended his life. And on Oct. 27, a 16-year-old from Kendallville killed himself.
Several of the victims used firearms, one chose asphyxiation.
Teen suicide is a real and heartbreaking problem in Indiana. Statistics show the state leads the nation in the number of teens who consider suicide as a realistic option.
Now, a father of one of the teens is speaking out. Bob Becker from Kendallville hopes his son Jacob’s death will encourage parents to talk to their children about suicide.
“It’s what any parent would ever hope is that no more young children ever die this way. They don’t have to,” Bob Becker said.
Around 6 p.m. on Oct. 27, 16-year-old Jacob Becker used a handgun to take his own life. He did it in the his upstairs bedroom in the family’s Kendallville home.
His father says he had a wonderful sense of humor and a smile that would light up the room. But he also had a darker side. Jacob was a young man who lived with the effects of depression. His father was aware of the disease and how it affected Jacob, but he said he didn’t ever think it would reach the level of suicide.
In addition to depression and the usual teen troubles at home, Bob Becker says there was also trouble with classmates. Jacob was a sophomore at East Noble High School.
“I don’t know how often. I don’t know how bad it got. But I do know he was being bullied,” Bob Becker said.
Jacob seemed to imply some of those concerns in a suicide note he left in an Instagram post that read:
Hey everyone, I know a lot of people are going to end up finding this really selfish, but to be honest, i can’t live like this anymore. I am tired of everything. I am tired of the way I am treated. I am tired of everything wrong I keep doing. I feel like this is best for everyone. I’m going to miss a lot of people. I am sorry everyone. Good bye. It’s been a great life getting to know you all.”
Jacob posted the statement approximately 15 minutes before he shot himself.
“I don’t know if it was the bullying that pushed him over the edge,” Jacob’s father said when asked what was to blame for his son’s death. “I don’t know if it was the depression that pushed him over the edge. I don’t know. What did I miss?”
Clinton Faupel is the executive director of RemedyLIVE – a 24-hour chat center for those struggling in life, according to its website. It is based in Fort Wayne but has a national footprint. The nonprofit deals with abuse, depression, bullying, suicide and many other issues faced by today’s youth.
“They want to be alone a lot more. They sleep a lot more. They don’t have a lot of answers when you ask them how they’re doing because they’re trying to numb themselves because of the pain they’re feeling internally,” Faupel said.
Faupel said many of us miss the signs because we don’t want to ask the question: “Have you thought about suicide?”
“If you do not have the courage to ask the question, to deal with the question – then I would ask – ‘Are you prepared to deal with the aftermath of losing your son or daughter?’ It’s that severe,” Faupel said.
Through its Get Schooled Tour program, RemedyLIVE has talked to more than 5,000 northeast Indiana students. Of those students, 26 percent said they have thought of suicide.
If you think your child would always turn to you for help, don’t be too confident. When asked who they would go to if they were struggling, 21 percent of students said their parents, 2 percent said a teacher, 57 percent would choose a friend and 20 percent would keep it all to themselves.
“Mom and dad have to ‘parent up,’ and say I’m going to spend time with my kid. I’m going to ask them hard questions as well as the fun questions, because I care too much about them,” Faupel said.
Faupel said to remember a few simple rules when dealing with your teen: Make time for your kids, keep up on social media and ask questions.
“Get ’em help. Get ’em help. They can tell you they don’t need it. I don’t care what they tell you, you’re the parent. Get ’em the help,” Becker pleaded.