This is the second death of a person associated with Kelvyn Park High School in less than a month. The first death, a murder, took place at the intersection of Damen and Milwaukee.
A cursory check of many Kelvyn Park High School student Facebook pages with security settings set to public shows students are eerily quiet about this news. Is this a sign of respect for Maurice and his family, or is the student body staying mum on what they know? As school let out on September 27th, the students were unusually calmer than most days. According to the letter sent home by school officials, crisis personnel had been at the school to address this sad and sudden news regarding Maurice's death.
The letter did not contain any details about the method used, or any other specific death - related information other than to simply say that information about services would be available when that information was known. The suicide did not take place at the school.
Student suicides are becoming all too common today, and affect the entire community when they occur. Right now, many people are asking questions about what Maurice Fields was dealing with and what signs there were, what lessons can be taken from his life and death, and how best to interpret behavioral clues that would otherwise be taken for granted as everyday teenage quirkiness or teenage drama. In today's world, we have started to learn that some of the old, common sense symptoms of impending suicide aren't always present.
One important thing to say at this time is that this was not anyone's fault. Suicide is a sudden, impulsive, human reaction to indescribable pain and suffering. Many more times than not, people who take their lives do not talk about it ahead of time. In this instance, it is possible that Maurice did not want anyone close to him that would have disarmed him from the mental or emotional perspective because that would mean trusting someone who would chip away the protective wall he built in his focus on a final and permanent ending. The point being made in saying this is: A suicidal person in such horrible amounts of suffering fears living more than they fear dying.
Does this mean that the person making a suicide threat, or talking about suicide should not be taken seriously? NO! There are still some people who will threaten or talk about it before they attempt taking their own lives. There is no information about whether or not Maurice had a psychiatric or psychological history, and no information about if his death was related to bullying or private and personal matters. Parent involvement is key in preventing suicides. Parents, if you see your teenager struggling in ANY way, if you notice ANY mood changes or suspicious behavior, if you notice even a "gut" feeling that you can't put your finger on and it says something isn't right, please err on the side of caution and talk to your child. Seek out a clinical professional who can evaluate the situation objectively. DO NOT DELAY!
This modern day has brought a focus on criminalizing student behavior, and that is a concern because it automatically negates the possibility that the behavior could be a communication of psychological or psychiatric distress. Waiting for the system to force a psych evaluation takes too long, and they often misdiagnose or fail to diagnose anyway. Parents, YOU are your child's best advocate! Don't ever give up on your child!
Students, if you know another student in distress, by all means...tell a school official right away! Even if you don't think they are a threat to themselves or others, you may be that one person who makes a difference. A student in distress can go from being anxious or depressed, manic and delusional to being suicidal faster than anyone can realize! Some students may even look and sound as if they have it all together and are handing their difficulties just fine, and then they can suddenly be dead. That is how serious this is! If you see something, say something! Yes, that sounds cliche' and stupid to you, but, it really is the only way.
Student and Parent Resources
Lifeline Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-8255
Trevor Lifeline (866-488-7386)