SPRINGFIELD, Mo — “Gage was an artist. He was a very helpful kid. He was growing his hair out because he wanted to give it to Locks of Love. He was a very giving and caring person.”
Dave Coble and his son Gage shared a love for music — They began playing together after the realization that most popular songs could be played with just 3 chords.
I asked Mr. Coble if Gage was a better guitarist than him.
He paused and responded, “He was a better person than me.”
A better person, a teen, gone too soon.
Gage was just a sophomore at Nixa High School when he took his life in February 2017.”We knew that we were dealing with a darkness, but we didn’t know to what level and we didn’t know he was having these thoughts or this idea that this was a possible solution,” said Coble.
“We didn’t realize that this was a possible solution.”
Where to Get Help
“Being a teenager is really hard. There is a lot of pressure and there is a lot of change in a teens life. That can often be really hard to navigate.”
Dr Kristen Thompson at Burrell Behavioral Health in Springfield encourages parents not only talk with their teens, but also to be direct.
Instead of asking how their day was, the better question might be “Tell me why you’re feeling sad” or “are you thinking of harming yourself?”.
“The #1 most important thing after risk has been identified is ‘means restriction’. Means restriction is huge,” said Dr. Thompson.
“All that means is that if you know how somebody has been thinking of hurting themselves, how do you prevent them from having access to that thing?”.
Research shows that females have more suicide attempts than males, but that males are more successful; possibly because they use more lethal means.
Dr. Thompson says that gun owners should keep their weapons out of reach, unloaded, and locked away.
Also, the trunk of your car might be a good place to keep things medications or knives. When you leave the house, they go with you.
“It’s really about how do you make it harder? Studies show that it makes a huge impact on risk reduction for teens.”
Dave Coble also has advice of his own as a grieving father.
“There are a lot of things in our life that are not our fault, but we are given these things and it’s our job to figure out if we can use it for a positive, or am I going to let it get me down?”
It’s a message he shares publicly, and is relevant to much more than just depression, and a challenge for all of us.
“If you’re hurting, you need to talk to somebody. You may not think you need to, but you do. There are people in your life that can help you, but you need to talk. You don’t need to keep it in.”
“If you’re healthy, you need to look for those people that are hurting. You need to look them in the eye, give them a kind word, and you need to see the kind of reaction you get. These hurting people are at your work, they’re at your school, they’re in your classes, they’re in your office space.”
“A kind work or a nice gesture may just make a big enough impact on them to allow them to open up and to talk to somebody.”
If you or someone you know needs to begin that conversation, there are numerous organizations in the Ozarks willing to help.
To start, you can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.