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Suicide rates for teens & young adults at 20-year high

Hamburg grandmother shares family suicide story to break stigma
Posted at 6:36 PM, Jun 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-20 21:01:37-04

HAMBURG, NY (WKBW) — There is alarming news about the number of young people taking their own lives.

A new study by Harvard Medical School shows suicide rates among teenagers and young adults have reached their highest point in nearly twenty years. It is a harsh reality a Hamburg family is dealing with after the loss of a teenage boy.

“It's a horrific time for any family to live,” declared Gale Carlos of Hamburg.

Gale Carlos is the grandmother of 16-year old Logan Smith-Carlos of Hamburg who died by suicide.

Carlos is the grandmother of 16-year old Logan Smith-Carlos of Hamburg. He died by suicide earlier this month.

Mental health experts say suicide has become an "acute crisis" among youth.

“The prevalence of technology – the pressure that technology puts on young people – I think that’s a factor,” reacted Ken Houseknecht, executive director, Mental Health Advocates of Western New York.

Houseknecht also points to the prevalence of trauma that many children are experience.

“So many of our young people have lived through really traumatic events that have consequences that impact their emotional mental health,” noted Houseknecht.

The Mental Health Advocates always has help and support. Youth peer advocates Anthony Donalson and Merceds Busby work directly with teens. Their messages - never feel alone.

"I’ve been there in life and not realizing that there was a whole bunch of people that were supporting me and a whole community of people that struggle with mental health,” replied Busby.

“A lot of the times for the youth – even for myself - when I was growing up – one thing that I always wanted was to have a self-identifying person, that I could let all of my emotion out to - that I could vent to - that I didn’t have to feel I have to go through this journey alone,” responded Donalson.

But Carlos says her grandson Logan was in counseling and seeking help since he began having thoughts of suicide in December. He suffered from depression, OCD and anxiety.

“Anyone who's battling these things – depression, OCD and anxiety - they don't really want to die – they want to stop living the life they are living. They want it to be on a different path and we're hoping by starting the conversation - they'll take a different path,” Carlos explained.

Carlos says they family wants to raise awareness to break stigma surrounding suicide to prevent others from taking their own lives.

On June 2,7 at 7 p.m. the family will be holding a candlelight vigil at Memorial Park in Hamburg in memory of Logan and eventually the family will have a paver put in place at the park to honor him.

Logan as a wolf when he performed in "Into the Woods".

“He was fun loving – he had a quick wit – he was always asking others what he could do for them. The first one to jump up. He loved drama – he was the wolf in "Into the woods" in the high school play – he loved to sing,” Carlos reflected.

Logan was a Hamburg High School student. Hamburg Schools Superintendent Michael Cornell outline a number of initiatives the district has launched to address mental health and mental illness at schools.

"We are continually seeking new, innovative and research based ways to help our students and staff be emotionally healthy and well," wrote Cornell.

The following was issued by Cornell:

"From 2017-2018, we trained every one of our 650 employees, and all of our bus drivers through Fisher Bus (not our employees, but work with our students every day) in Youth Mental Health First Aid. This training is a full day training for everyone, and was primarily funded through a $75,000 grant from the Tower Foundation. This, along with our Culture of Kindness initiative, helps assure that our schools are kind and welcoming for everyone who learns, works and visits the Hamburg Schools.
We also trained every employee in this year in Suicide Prevention. This was a two-hour training. As a part of our overall emphasis on doing all we can to address our students' mental and emotional health needs, we brought in Kevin Hines to speak to our entire staff, our middle and high school students and our community. Kevin is an internationally recognized speaker on mental illness and suicide, and his message help us show everyone how important it is to look out for, and help each other."

The family has established a special Facebook page called Logan Strong and a GoFundMePage.

If you, a loved one or friend need help call theNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255. Locally you cal also call Crisis Services of Erie County 24 Hour Crisis Hotline- 716-834-3131.

The Mayo Clinic posted warning signs of teen suicide:

  • Talking or writing about suicide.
  • Withdrawing from social contact.
  • Experiencing sudden mood swings.
  • Using alcohol or drugs more frequently.
  • Expressing a sense of hopelessness.
  • Taking part in risky or self-destructive behavior.
  • Changing eating or sleeping patterns.
  • Giving away belongings for no apparent reason.