Suicide vigil by high-schoolers |

Suicide vigil by high-schoolers

At dusk, in a biting east wind, a handful of George Whittell High School students huddled in a circle at Regan Beach on Wednesday to discuss a subject that they see as a real threat to teen-agers in Tahoe – suicide.

“We need to let people know it’s happening,” 15-year-old Ashley Colvin said. “It could happen right here in this community and it just did.”

What Colvin is talking about is the suicide of a Stateline teen-ager in March.

The students, none of whom knew the teen-ager personally, said teens in Tahoe face the usual pressures of adolescent life.

“Peer pressure, relationships, drugs, alcohol, parents, grades and trying to get into colleges,” Colvin said.

But then there are the additional problems they say are more specific to teen life in Tahoe.

“Many of the kids come from upper-class families and they are expected to be perfect,” said Kindra Boni, the 16-year-old who organized the vigil. “Plus, it is such a small community, rumors and things get around.”

The students said the purpose of the vigil was to bring awareness that suicide is possible even in a small community such as Tahoe. They also wanted to get the message out that suicide is not the answer to problems.

“We just want to tell people who may be thinking about suicide not to do it,” Boni said. “Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

“If you’re thinking about suicide you should talk to a counselor, teacher, parent or friend,” she said.

According to Tahoe Youth and Family Services, about 1 million people attempt suicide each year and the number of suicides between the ages of 10 and 19 has tripled in the last 15 years.

Some of the warning signs include: talk of suicide, giving away possessions, change in behavior, previous attempts and withdrawal from normal activities.

El Dorado County Mental Health Department has a 24-hour crisis hot line at 544-2219. Tahoe Youth and Family Services also has a 24-hour hot line at 541-8500.

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