Suicide is preventable: father's message after loss works to change sobering statistic

- Suicide is the second leading cause of death is among Michigan teens and young adults. A father wants to share his tragic story of loss in hopes of changing that sobering statistic.

The chapel at the University of Detroit Jesuit High School is a place of healing. Jim Adams faces a lifetime of healing after his son took his own life, which Jim sees at not as one tragedy but three. 

"I've gone through three tragedies: the loss of a child, suicide and a violent death," he says. 

It happened in November of 2012, just months after Morgan Adams graduated from U of D Jesuit. In high school, he was the friendly outgoing kid who loved music, and was a proud member of the social justice group Just Peace.

"Morgan was one of the most outspoken, compassionate, highly creative students I've taught," says Kim Redigan. 

Turns out, there was one person Morgan couldn't speak up for. Himself.

"As we look back now, yes, there were a lot of red flags. The problem was that we weren't educated on what the red flags were," Jim Adams says. "As we found out, he had been suffering from depression all through high school and perhaps even longer, we don't even know, but just through some of his journals and writings we found later that he was severely depressed, but he hid it. It hid it very, very well."

Now a group of boys from Morgan's alma mater is working to take the shame away from mental illness, including Rhasean Scales, a senior who found himself dealing with serious depression. 

"It just all built up, it was just this emotion I couldn't let go of," he says. He admitted to us that suicide crossed his mind.  

While there's no single cause of suicide, depression is the main risk factor. So, how do you recognize depression in teens? 

Symptoms include: feeling more irritable; gaining or losing weight; trouble sleeping; no energy; feeling worthless; wanting to end your life. 

"The point is if you have these symptoms for more than a two week period, as we know now, these are red flags. There was even points where he was buying expensive gifts for his brother; we thought he was just growing up, being a really nice kid. In fact, he was actually giving away his possessions, which is a huge red flag," Jim says. 

Since Morgan's suicide, Jim and his family have found support at the Out of the Darkness Walk, where the message is clear. 

"Suicide is a symptom, it was a symptom that wasn't being treated," Jim says. "Had it been treated, things would be different today. Suicide is preventable."

Jim is now Communications Manager at U of D Jesuit, wanting to impact young lives. But actually, it's these young men making a difference in his life. They'll be at the Out of the Darkness Walk, too, in Morgan's memory. 

"The fact that this group of boys from Just Peace is walking in his memory is inspiring for me," Jim says.  

The Out of the Darkness Walk is happening Saturday at Hart Plaza

If you or a loved one is feeling distressed, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. The crisis center provides free and confidential emotional support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text 741-741. 

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