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It only takes so many times to tell a person how worthless they are until they believe it and suicide seems no longer a choice, but a necessity to end their pain. Not only were one of these teenagers told to hang himself daily by classmates, but then they go home to parents that also rail against these issues that set them apart. They see it on the news: politicians arguing over whether they should have the right to marry, to serve in the military. They see outrageous indifference to children’s deaths in the comments of news websites. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to ponder if we should be celebrating the fact that there have been so few deaths. Those that manage to make it through unscathed in hostile circumstances truly seem superhuman. I can attest to this, because although I had a difficult time in my teens, my research during the planning of this vigil turned up tales so incredibly wrenching and inhumane I felt downright lucky to have had it so easy.

Our event that evening was not in-your-face or even overly political. It was merely a peaceful gathering of concerned citizens who would prefer to confront these factors rather than lose a young life in our own community. Information on support resources and organizations was offered. Courageous speakers of all ages shared their experiences with adversity. The candles to honor those who felt there was no empathy in the world lit up the banks of the Chippewa River for two hours. Those who attended, while heartbroken for people they knew only from photographs, left optimistic. I can only hope that the news of our gathering reached the ears of any child in the area that may feel as hopeless.

If you do need support, call the Trevor Lifeline suicide hotline at 866-4-U-TREVOR.