How do we stop the dying?

Randy Riley - Contributing columnist

Fables, proverbs and stories … we can sometimes learn difficult lessons from sad tales. Here is such a tale.

“Two men were enjoying a calm, clear day at their favorite fishing stream. They knew each other well and had spent many peaceful days together fly-fishing the cold mountain waters of this stream. Their hip waders usually kept them dry as they waded up and down the rocky bottom of the wide stream. It was too wide to cast across, so they would wade into the middle of the stream where they could stand and talk while they cast their fly-fishing lines to either side or the middle.

“One of the fisherman, Jim, faced upstream. The other, John, faced the far riverbank. They had bagged a few excellent rainbow trout, but the fish they had stored in their old wicker creels was less important to the two men than the peace and joy they shared in the cold, remote stream.

Suddenly, the peace of the moment was broken when Jim asked, “What in the world is that?” He pointed upstream toward what looked like a bundle of clothing that was floating their way.

“John quickly reeled in his line and started wading toward the bundle. The closer he got, the more concerned he became. He shouted, “Jim! It looks like a child.” Together, they grabbed the youngster and made their way toward the shore. As they pulled the lifeless body from the water, they considered starting CPR but realized that the child was extremely cold; obviously dead.

They were preparing to carry the little body to their truck, when John cried out, “Oh, good lord! Look.” Two more bodies were floating from upstream.

“Jim and John ran back into the water and grabbed the loose clothing that drifted with the two bodies. Quickly they pulled the two young people from the stream. One was a boy of about eighteen; the other a girl, possibly in her 20s. Stunned, they starred at each other. John said, “We need to call the police.”

“As they stood, Jim glanced toward the stream. He barely whispered. “I can’t believe it.” John turned and saw five more bodies slowly drifting downstream.

“Jim jumped into the water and started wading toward the bodies. John started running upstream along the riverbank. Jim couldn’t believe that his friend was leaving him alone. He stopped in knee-deep water and yelled, “John, where are you going. You can’t leave me now.”

As he ran through the grass and mud of the riverbank, John shouted back, “You go ahead and pull out all the bodies you can, but someone has to find out what is causing all these deaths and bring it to a stop!”’

Thus ends this horrible, depressing, difficult-to-write tale of death.

We can probably agree that both men were doing the right thing. Like Jim, we always need to respect and care for those who have died. But, of the two men, John was really on the right track. Someone had to find out what was causing the deaths of those young people and do everything possible to stop it.

Nearly every day, we hear about someone overdosing on drugs. Sometimes they are revived using CPR and naloxone. Too often, they die. Last year, just in Ohio, over 3,000 people died of drug overdose.

Nearly every day, we hear of someone committing suicide. Throughout Ohio, on average, someone dies of suicide every six hours. Suicide is most common in teenagers and young adults.

Although the reasons for suicide vary from person-to-person, depression, and a feeling of hopelessness, nearly always plays a huge role in the person’s decision to take their own life.

We often hear about teenagers committing suicide because they have been bullied. Bullying can be the direct, in-your-face, aggressive bullying behavior or it might be the online bullying that can happen on any type of social media. Regardless, their feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness and depression are real and can result in suicide.

That is unacceptable. It needs to be stopped.

If your child is being bullied, do whatever is necessary to stop it. Report it to authorities. Let your child know that you love them and will support them and stand with them in any circumstance.

Never allow your child to be a bully. Respect for others is something that every child should be taught. This respect for others must be reinforced throughout their growth and development. If, at any age, your child, shows signs of aggressive behavior, get them counseling and the help they deserve.

It will never be enough to merely keep statistics on death, to drag in the bodies, count them and study them. As much as possible, we must focus on why our young people are dying.

Then, with early identification, coupled with early intervention and treatment, the young people who exhibit signs and symptoms of illegal drug use and the signs and symptoms of depression, that can lead to suicide, can be saved.

Randy Riley is President of Council of Wilmington.

Randy Riley

Contributing columnist