'Talk but also listen': How to help prevent another life lost

BOISE, Idaho — Suicides among children and teenagers are on the rise throughout the Treasure Valley. Families and friends are grieving their loved ones, including 14-year-old Kade Parrish. 

Parrish, a Boise School District student, died by suicide last week. Boise Schools is one local school district seeing what they call an "alarming" number of suicides recently. 

"I know that there's been a pretty awful rash of suicide, especially young around here," Parrish's dad Jacob Stockton said. "I had seen it; I had read about it, talked to Kade about it, and it still happened."

Local suicide prevention organization The Speedy Foundation is well aware of the growing problem. Prevention specialist Grace Shimatsu said suicide is complex, and there are many reasons why someone may take their life. 

Shimatsu said the foundation met with the City of Boise, school district staff, and other community partners involved in the conversation surrounding suicide postvention, the response after a suicide or suicide attempt, on Monday afternoon. 

Their main topic of discussion — figuring out the next steps following the recent tragedies, she said. 

"Each of these suicide deaths are individuals who have a family and friends and a life of their own," Shimatsu said, "and one death is too many."

When a community experiences a suicide cluster, Shimatsu said people should be extra mindful about what they are posting on social media. 

Shimatsu also hopes people check in with their loved ones, especially children and teens, about their mental health. 

"I would encourage everyone to reach out to people outside of your immediate family," she said, "to keep in contact with your friends and to really do everything you can to keep that close connection and support as we enter the holiday season."

Beyond just talking to their kids, Parrish's dad — Jacob Stockton — says parents should also listen and be a safe place for their kids. 

"I did a lot of talking," he said. "I don't mind talking; I can be very longwinded ... I wish I would have listened more. So, talk but also listen." 

People should call 9-8-8, the National Suicide and Crisis Hotline, if they need help or know of someone needing help. 

Shimatsu recommends filling out the Speedy Foundation's Personal Safety Plan, which helps people identify personal triggers, who they should talk to, and safe places they can go to get assistance. 

The Boise School District had counselors on site Monday from 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. to provide check-ins with affected students, according to a press release. If students need further support throughout the break, there are other options available

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