The death last week of Nick Freeman, a popular, well-liked, teenager in my community has hit me pretty hard. There are questions swirling in my head, along with a picture of him — as my son and I saw him earlier on that horrible day. I just can’t get him out of my head. Why was he in so much pain? What were his final thoughts? Why did he feel so hopeless and helpless? The pain must have been unbearable, and I have pain in my heart for him, his loved ones, and his friends.

My letter to Nick
Dear Nick –

You were well-liked, loved by many, and obviously made a positive difference for many of your friends and classmates. From what I can tell, you always made people feel included, you made them laugh – and they all looked up to you. What a great legacy for such a young person, surely it’s one to be proud of. I did not know you, but I can feel the pain of your leaving us along with everyone else in our community. I hope that you have found peace and happiness – and I know that you are looking out for all of your friends as you did when you were here. It seems that heaven has gained an angel. I hope that you have found happiness – may you be at peace.

To our community, his friends and family – now what do we do?
The question that really needs to be asked is, “what can we do about this?” Well, for Nick we can honor him and the wonderful legacy he has left behind (just read his guest book and you will see). But for others, we can can help to prevent such tragedies by getting involved and taking action.

According to the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention:

Suicide is the third leading cause of death of young people aged 15-24 in the United States. Four thousand suicides occur each year in this age group alone, exacting an enormous toll on our Nation’s families and communities. More youth die by suicide than from malignancies, congenital abnormalities and infectious diseases combined — and these suicides are largely preventable.

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I have decided to participate in the upcoming AFSP Out of the Darkness walk in honor of Nick, my mom, my childhood friends – and for others who left us way too soon in a state of hopelessness. I plan to show that there is hope, and help – anyone care to join me?