Parents share somber message as metro community deals with spike in teen suicide
A north metro community is dealing with a sudden spike in teens dying by suicide.
Now, school leaders, police and parents in Blaine are trying to find solutions.
Suicides are a very private matter, but on Friday 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with the parents of one of the teens hoping their message can prevent another tragedy.
"This final decision of hers, it's like, why did this happen?" said Shannon Lee.
Shannon's daughter, Ashlyn, took her own life last week. She is now the fifth teen in the Blaine community to die by suicide this school year.
Ashlyn's boyfriend, Sam Casperson, also died by suicide last month.
The Blaine Police Department told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS this is the most teen suicides they've ever seen in one school year at schools across the area, including Spring Lake Park, Blaine and Centennial.
"It is a big problem right now," said Nita Kumar, a mental health consultant at Anoka-Hennepin Schools.
Kumar said the district is going to host a community meeting to talk about the mental health needs of students. They originally planned the forum for later this school year but decided to move the event up to this coming Monday.
"Mental health crisis, in general, seems higher than usual," Kumar said. "There's so many questions right now on what people can do to take part in the solution and we want to give that to them."
"Somehow, there has to be more available for the kids," Lee added. "We have to recognize this is happening and figure out how we can help them to know that it's not the answer."
The Lees hope their daughter's death and their grief can send an important message to local kids to be kinder to one another.
"Everybody just needs to be better," said Ashlyn's father, Brian Lee. "That's where it starts. Before anything else, everybody needs to be better."
Instead of flowers, the Lees are asking people to do a random act of kindness and to get involved in the greater conversation about teen mental health.
"That light, that goodness that Ashlyn did for people all the time, we just hope that moves forward," Shannon Lee added.
If you or someone you know is in need of help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline to speak with a certified listener: 1-800-273-8255. Crisis Text Line is a texting service for emotional crisis support. To speak with a trained listener, text HELLO to 741741. It is free, available 24/7, and confidential.