YATESVILLE — Hundreds of people packed the auditorium at Pittston Area High School Wednesday night for a special meeting on suicide prevention.
The meeting came after four students, aged 13 years old to 16 years old, committed suicide. One student was from the Greater Nanticoke Area School District, another from Hazleton Area School District, and two were from Pittston Area.
“That’s horrible, I just don’t understand it. I don’t understand why they don’t have anyone to turn to,” said Erika Borino of Pittston, who attended the meeting.
During the meeting, some people spoke out and then listened to an expert panel, which included the superintendent of Pittston Area School District, the Luzerne County district attorney, and the head of a Luzerne County drug and alcohol service center.
Pittston Area Senior Meredith Yozwiak told the crowd of her struggle with bullying and coping with suicidal thoughts. She urged people to be kinder.
“It’s not OK to be a bully. It affects a person deeply and you don’t know, you don’t know it until something tragic happens,” said Yozwiak.
Samantha Neaman lost her 13-year-old son five years ago when he committed suicide. She said suicide is a complex issue. Her son, to her knowledge, was not bullied. Neaman said there is never just one reason a person decides to take his or her own life.
“He was handsome, he was funny, unbelievably intelligent, he was a perfect straight-A student at the time of his death,” said Neaman while holding a picture of her son to show people.
Experts on the panel urged parents to talk to their kids, and they urged young people to talk to anyone they trust. In the end, they said preventing suicide is a community job.
“Hopefully the whole community can figure this out and try to help the students,” said Mikala Borino, a student at Pittston Area.
If you, your teen, or anyone you know is feeling desperate, or beyond hope here are some resources available 24 hours a day for free counseling:
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: