At only 15 years old, one Fenton freshman has already lost two of her close friends to suicide.
Fenway Jones doesn’t know exactly why her friends, age 16 and 15, decided to take their own lives, but she wants to help prevent it from happening to other people.
“I am planning a Dungeons and Dragons charity event where all of the proceeds are going to a suicide prevention charity,” she said. “I lost two friends in the past year to suicide.”
She’s trying to do some good so other people don’t have to feel the grief of losing someone close to them to suicide. The event, called Jasper’s Game Day, named after one of Jones’ friends who died from suicide, will take place April 21 at Ziege Games in Howell. All the proceeds go to the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network. See sidebar for more information.
Suicide, which claims 4,600 young lives every year in the U.S., is the third leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That amounts to more than 12 suicides a day from young people.
“More kids have died from suicide than school shootings in the past year,” Jones said.
Youth suicide is on the rise.
Suicide among teens and young adults has nearly tripled since the 1940s, according to the CDC.
The number of children and adolescents admitted to children’s hospitals for thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than doubled in the past decade, according to
cbsnews.com. The U.S. saw a 5.7-percent increase in emergency room visits for self-inflicted, non-fatal injuries among children and young adults between 2008 to 2015. The most common patients were female tweens (ages 10-12) and young teens, yet boys are more likely to die from suicide than girls.
Jennifer Tews, Lake Fenton Middle School counselor, said the increased use of technology and social media is a factor.
“I think the lack of personal communication and disconnect people have with one another can make them feel alone and isolated. It has also become easier for people to be cyber bullied making them feel powerless,” she said.
Teens who spend more time on their phone are 70 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts or actions compared to those who used their phone one hour per day, according to a report published in Clinical Psychological Science.
Tews said middle school students are more stressed compared to middle school students decades ago.
“I think the level of anxiety has soared among middle school students. The use of social media, acceptance, how many likes their posts get, and constant comparing their life with what others are posting. It is not the healthiest environment for our students,” she said.
Tews recommends that parents talk more with their children.
“Parents/guardians need to keep lines of communication open with their kids as much as possible. Putting personal devices aside and spending quality time with one another may help,” she said.
Dungeons and Dragons charity event
At Jasper’s Game Day, on April 21, people can buy in to play the games. A 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dungeon Master Seminar costs $40. From 3 to 7 p.m., people can attend a writing seminar for $40, and from 8 to 11 p.m., there will be 12 tables at play, which is $15 per person. Participants can also win door prizes, giveaways and silent auctions. More information can be found at ziegegames.com.